Newswise — The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) will present nurses Alison Moëd, MSN, BSN, RN, and Cliff Morrison, MSM, MSN, RN, ACRN, FAAN, with its AACN Pioneering Spirit Award.

This AACN Visionary Leadership Award recognizes significant contributions that influence acute and critical care nursing and relate to the association’s mission, vision and values. The official presentation is scheduled to take place during the 2021 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI), due to the COVID-related cancellation of NTI 2020.

The recipients are being recognized individually for their efforts to innovate treatment for patients with AIDS. Together, they created the San Francisco Model, a patient-centered approach that highlights patient leadership in the plan of care, multidisciplinary discharge planning and community involvement.

“During a time of great fear and uncertainty, Cliff and Alison took extraordinary action to comfort, protect and care for patients with AIDS,” said AACN board president Megan Brunson. “Their pioneering work improved the care for their patients, as well as countless others around the world.”

In the early 1980s, AIDS was a frightening new illness and transmission methods were not fully understood. Patients diagnosed with AIDS were sometimes neglected because hospital staff members were afraid to go into their rooms. Adding to the challenge, many patients were gay men who had been estranged from their families and friends.

As a clinical nurse specialist, Morrison led a 1983 initiative at San Francisco General Hospital to create a special unit dedicated to holistically treating patients with AIDS. Unit 5B became the first unit in the United States specifically dedicated to patients diagnosed with AIDS. Its unique model emphasized touch, patient autonomy regarding care decisions and a broader perspective of family when it comes to visitation.

Moëd signed up to be one of the all-volunteer nursing staff to open the new unit.  She eventually became head nurse for the innovative Unit 5B and led a professional community of nurses who brought compassion, skill and love to the bedsides of patients who were dying from a frightening new disease.

As the result of their work, 5B became globally recognized and studied, ultimately becoming the adopted standard of care around the world.

The work of the Unit 5B nurses was brought to light in the documentary “5B.” The film premiered at the 2019 Festival de Cannes in France.

Morrison worked with Unit 5B until 1986, and also lectured and helped set up similar care models around the country. He worked for more than three years as an assistant dean at the University of San Francisco and is now regional and program administrator for Telecare Corp., a mental healthcare services company. He continues to be an outspoken advocate for patients with AIDS.

Now retired, Moëd has spoken widely about the patient care lessons learned during that era.


About the AACN Pioneering Spirit Award: The annual AACN Pioneering Spirit Award recognizes significant contributions that influence acute and critical care nursing regionally and nationally, and relate to AACN’s mission, vision and values. Recipients of this Visionary Leadership Award come from business, academia and healthcare, and receive a plaque and $1,000 honorarium at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition. Other Visionary Leadership awards, AACN’s highest honor, include the Lifetime Membership Award and the Marguerite Rodgers Kinney Award for a Distinguished Career.

About the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition: Established in 1974, AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) represents the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. Bedside nurses, nurse educators, nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners attend NTI.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world's largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 120,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; 949-362-2000;;;