POMPTON PLAINS - The nursing award committee at Chilton Memorial Hospital has selected Registered Nurse Paula Edelstein of West Milford, as Outstanding Nurse of the Year. "I want to make a difference in the lives of everyone I meet," says Edelstein, a nurse whose career took her to Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky before she joined the nursing staff at Chilton Memorial in 1981. "Nursing is a stimulating, rewarding, and an evolving profession. Nursing is a career that offers me the opportunity to grow and develop while working with many individuals." For the past 21 years, Edelstein has served as a part-time public-health nurse in West Milford where she resides. Simultaneously, for 15 of those years, she also served on Chilton Memorial's Emergency Department clinical staff and as a relief charge nurse. She currently works in the hospital's Occupational/Employee Health Department. Chilton Memorial Hospital celebrated National Nurses Week by honoring its 420 nurses for their commitment to the profession and their service to patients through a variety of activities, including an awards ceremony on May 5 that was attended by local dignitaries. Each year, the hospital pays tribute to those employees who deliver outstanding patient care and exemplify the best in nursing by asking for nominations from peers to select a nurse who exhibits a commitment to excellence and deserves the title Outstanding Nurse of the Year. A committee then evaluates nominees based upon their leadership, professionalism, ability to work as part of a team, role model/teaching ability, continuing education, committee membership, and overall characteristics of excellence. According to Occupational Health Nurse Manager Doris Dicristina, who nominated Edelstein for the award, Edelstein has made numerous contributions to the practice of nursing at Chilton Memorial. Dicristina said she helped improve emergency department patient assessment procedures, and was a leader in developing a blood pathogens safety protocol at the hospital. Edelstein also helped the hospital develop its Occupational Health Center, which is one of the first hospital-based Occupational Health Centers in New Jersey. At the center, she cares for patients suffering from workplace injuries, conducts corporate wellness programs in the community, and participates in workplace regulatory compliance programs. During her 36-year nursing career, Edelstein has worked in the Intensive Care, Cardiac Care, Open Heart, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Emergency Departments. She has handled case management, infection control, counseling, wellness promotion and safety implementation. Additionally, she is credited with playing an instrumental role on important projects with other nurses, physicians, and members of the hospital's Pastoral Care Department.