Bahaa Barsoum to Receive 2017 McHugh Award

CFAR | August 22, 2017 | by Geralyn Magan

The winner of the 2017 McHugh Award is Bahaa Barsoum, RN, director of nursing at A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab, a LeadingAge member in Atlanta, GA. Barsoum directs more than 120 nursing staff members who provide health care and nursing services to residents at A.G. Rhodes of Atlanta.


Bahaa Barsoum, RN, is the winner of the 12th Annual Joan Anne McHugh Award for Leadership in Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Nursing. The award will be presented at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting and EXPO, which takes place in New Orleans on Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

Barsoum has been director of nursing at A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab, a LeadingAge member in Atlanta, GA, since September 2009. In this role, he directs more than 120 nursing staff members who provide health care and nursing services to residents at A.G. Rhodes of Atlanta.

A U.S. Army Veteran, Barsoum worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for several years before becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in 1996, and a registered nurse (RN) in 1998.

“It was clear from the first day that I met Bahaa that he doesn’t view his work as just a job, rather he is answering a calling,” wrote Albert K. Blackwelder, chief executive officer at A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab in his nomination letter. “Bahaa is an outstanding and highly regarded leader, but perhaps most impressive is his compassion for our residents and staff, and his commitment to their well-being.”


Barsoum is credited with helping A.G. Rhodes introduce a more person-centered model of care over the past few years. He traveled to the Netherlands twice through an exchange program between A.G. Rhodes and Marga Klompé, a non-governmental LTSS organization there. During those trips, he and other A.G. Rhodes staff observed best practices in several care settings, and were enthusiastic about implementing those practices in Atlanta.

“Our organization’s success in transforming our model of care would not be possible without Bahaa’s leadership,” wrote Blackwelder.

Barsoum is also known at A.G. Rhodes for his collaborative leadership style, according to Nursing Supervisor Andy Akobundu, LPN.

“While he makes final decisions, his democratic style of leadership calls for every staff to participate in decision making and problem solving,” wrote Akobundu. “His style of leadership has fostered high quality of work while, at the same time, fostering collaboration and high morale among his staff.”


Barsoum’s respect for his staff is rooted in his Army service, and his firsthand experience as a CNA and an LPN.

“Employees look up to him because he is a leader who will never ask his staff to do something that he hasn’t already done, or wouldn’t do,” wrote Blackwelder. “In times of staff shortages, Barsoum will jump into any position to get the job done.”


Barsoum leads daily meetings with his interdisciplinary team, and believes the entire team must work together to coordinate resident care.

“His attention to detail is unmatched,” wrote Blackwelder. “He is keenly aware of not only the clinical histories of residents, but he pays close attention to their personalities and preferences, and he encourages his team that this information is … important for administering care. Because he is exceptionally knowledgeable about each resident, doctors and others trust his consultation and they proactively collaborate with him when coordinating care.”


Barsoum has implemented a variety of practices to support nursing and frontline staff, and encourage them to continue their education and professional development. Since 2009, he has encouraged 8 LPNs and 4 CNAs at A.G. Rhodes to become RNs, reports Director of Clinical Services Jackie H. Summerlin.

Charelle A. Barber, an admissions assistant at A.G. Rhodes, praised Barsoum for his ability to encourage staff, including herself, to reach for “higher heights.”

“He … never stopped pushing me to strive for better, and he continues to do so,” she wrote. “(He) played a major part in my very own promotion from a CNA to the Admissions Assistant.”


The McHugh Award was established in memory of Joan Anne McHugh. During her career as a registered nurse, nurse manager, and nursing consultant, McHugh earned a well-deserved reputation for compassion, knowledge, and professionalism, and made a lasting impact on the geriatric health care profession. She died in 2003 at the age of 47.

The McHugh Award recognizes aspiring nurse leaders who provide excellent clinical care to their residents while demonstrating leadership in LTSS nursing and a commitment to the profession.

The McHugh Long-Term Care Nursing Academy first presented the McHugh Award in 2006. The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston (formerly the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research) established the academy in 2005 to support quality nurse managers in LTSS settings.