Nurses: The Heart of Health Care |

Nurses comfort, care, educate, console, relate, endear and provide direction and assistance. They are at the forefront when we are sick; their work responsibilities immense, their efforts tireless and their commitment endless. They are the heart and soul of medical facilities including residential care, hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, schools, in-home care and much more. And this dedication is only enhanced by the coronavirus pandemic.

To celebrate National Nurses Week, May 6-12, The Times Media Co.; Title Sponsors: Community Healthcare System and Methodist Hospitals; Supporting Sponsors: NorthShore Health Centers, Strack & Van Til and Hospice of the Calumet Area; and Event Sponsor: Center for Otolaryngology & Facial Plastic Surgery are showing our true appreciation for area nurses with nominations and evaluation, profiles and a recognition event May 3 at Avalon Manor in Merrillville.

As a way of saying thanks, we asked the public to nominate nursing professionals who have had an effect on their life, the lives of loved ones and the community. The result was 237 nominations and 2,069 votes.

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From there, our panel of five independent judges — Kerry Erickson, Marie D. Forszt, Julie Kerns, Marsha King and Jennifer Philbin — reviewed the nominations and chose nine winners. The tenth was chosen by our readers. Read about each winner here and online at

Kerry Erickson, interim executive editor, The Times of Northwest Indiana

Kerry Erickson

Kerry Erickson

Kerry Erickson is the interim executive editor of The Times of Northwest Indiana.

Erickson has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and has served as deputy editor for features and night editor at The Times.

She has lived and worked for more than last 20 years in Northwest Indiana, a place she is proud to call home.

Marie D. Forszt, vice president, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, Community Healthcare System

Marie Forszt

Marie Forszt

Marie D. Forszt, MPA, RHIA is vice president of Marketing and Corporate Communications for Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, parent company of Community Healthcare System. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Record Administration from Indiana University School of Medicine and her Master of Public Administration degree from Indiana University.

Forszt began her professional career at Community Hospital, and has 32 years of health-care management experience in areas including health information, service line development, operational management, patient satisfaction, cardiovascular research and marketing and community relations. As vice president of Marketing and Corporate Communications for Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, she oversees marketing, patient experience, health information management and the Center for Visual and Performing Arts.

Forszt is a member of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD). She also is on the Board of Community Cancer Research Foundation. Marie lives in Munster with her husband, Tony, and two sons.

Julie Kerns, BSN, MS-Health Informatics, assistant vice president, Patient Care Services, Methodist Hospitals

Julie Kerns

Julie Kerns

Julie Kerns has worked at Methodist Hospitals for more than 20 years. Her career at Methodist began as a bedside nurse. She has held multiple positions in the organization including supervisor of Employee Health, Clinical Nurse manager, Oncology Nurse navigator, director of Nursing Quality and Regulatory Compliance and, most recently, assistant vice president of Patient Care Services at the Southlake Campus.

Kerns holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Valparaiso University and a Master of Science degree in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Marsha King, dean of the University of St. Francis, Crown Point Campus; associate professor, University of St. Francis

Marsha King

Marsha King

Marsha King, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CNE, received her associate, bachelor and master of science degrees in nursing from Purdue University Northwest and her doctor of nursing practice in systems leadership from Rush University, Chicago. She also has a master’s degree in business administration. Certified as a nurse executive-advanced and a certified nurse educator, King has extensive experience in leadership positions in clinical, administrative and academic environments as well as 21 years experience as a chief nursing officer.

A member of the Indiana State Board of Nursing and president for four years, King has received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, Northwest Indiana Influential Women in Education 2016 and most recently the 2017 Athena Award, for leadership and mentoring of women. She is a member of the executive leadership team for Go Red for Women and a board member of the Lake County American Heart Association. She also sits on the Area Health Education Center Advisory Council. She also lectures on a variety of topics at a local, regional and national level.

Jennifer Philbin, dean of nursing, Ivy Tech Community College

Jennifer Philbin

Jennifer Philbin

Jennifer Philbin, MSN, RN, received her bachelor’s degree from Lewis University in 1996 and her master’s from South University in 2009. She has been in academia for more than 15 years at LPN and RN programs in Illinois and Indiana. In her current role as dean of the School of Nursing at Ivy Tech, Philbin has overseen the LPN, RN and LPN to RN educational tracks for the Ivy Tech’s Lake County campus for four years.

Philbin also has worked in multiple areas in nursing from medical/surgical, hospice, home health and organ procurement. However, her passion remains in the community college to provide quality nursing education to the Region. She also is an ambassador for the National League for Nursing, a nursing education organization.

Nurses: The Heart of Health Care is produced by the Special Sections and Marketing Teams of The Times of Northwest Indiana.


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