Connie Poe-Kochert, RN, CNP, Retires after 41 years

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Pediatric Orthopaedic Update | Winter 2021

By George H. Thompson, MD

Connie Poe-Kochert, RN, CNP retired from the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedics at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in October 2020 after 41 years of outstanding service.

Connie plans to devote more time to her husband Richard “Rick” and is looking forward to grandchildren from her two sons. Interestingly, Connie is also a world class archer. She was the coach of the CWRU Collegiate Archery Club. She has participated in the National Senior Olympics and has five national records.

Connie Poe-Kochert, RN, CNPConnie Poe-Kochert, RN, CNP

During her career, she became the “back bone” of our pediatric spinal deformity program. Her career was two-fold, with the supervision of nursing service for our spine patients and the coordination of our spine research activities.

Connie graduated from Ashland University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Comprehensive Sciences. She then attended the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She immediately joined Rainbow as a staff nurse on the pediatric orthopaedic service. This led to her becoming the coordinator of our Youth Spine Center in 1982. She became an advanced practice nurse in 1990.  At this time, she began coordinating both the pediatric spine program and related research. One of her greatest accomplishments was the development and growth of our Pediatric Orthopaedic Spine Database.  It tracks our operative and non-operative spine patients and is now the largest single center pediatric spine database in the world with approximately 3,000 patients. This has been a major factor in the academic success of our program. Approximately 10- 20 spine publications are produced from this database annually. Her academic success in the areas of postoperative blood loss, pain management, infection management and prevention, early onset scoliosis, intraoperative care path, and other areas are legendary locally, nationally and internationally. She has also been an integral part of the international Pediatric Spine Study Group.

Connie’s relationships with patients and families is another pillar of her success. She has been an outstanding resource for them. She participates in outpatient clinics, pre-operative testing, and care coordination. These relationships have resulted in her being a trusted resource for our patients and families. Her knowledge and experience have been shared with others as demonstrated by her participation in programs sponsored by the state of Ohio as well as national and international organizations. She has been responsible for the development of many educational brochures and she has been invited to give a large number of lectures over the years.

For all her efforts she was the recipient of the Rainbow Trustees Award for Excellence in 2001, the Clinical Excellence Award from University Hospitals in 2001, and the Clinical Excellence Award for Advance Practice Nurses from University Hospitals in 2007. She has co-authored 51 peer-reviewed articles and 3 textbook chapters. The research in which she was involved has been presented on 102 occasions at world-wide pediatric orthopaedic and spine meetings.

Overall, Connie Poe-Kochert, RN, CNP has become one of the most clearly recognized pediatric orthopaedic nurses in the world. Her retirement is more than well-deserved but produces a deficit that will be hard to replace.  Fortunately, she has been working with two of our other pediatric nurses, Michelle Moran, RN, and Michelle Janas, RN to follow in her clinical footsteps, and is mentoring Erin Gill, RN, to carry on her research work. Nevertheless, it will be hard to replace her 41 years of experience. Personally, she will be missed, especially by me, as we paralleled our careers. Years ago, we decided we would retire together.  We have kept our word, but we both remain active academically.

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