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May 25, 2022/Nursing/Nurse Profile

Striving For the Best In Care Delivery

New Lutheran Hospital CNO values quality and evidence

Morocco CNO

Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital’s new chief nursing officer (CNO) became a nurse because of what she calls the trifecta of healthcare.


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Darlene Morocco, MHA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, FACHE, says the humanitarianism, the technology and innovation, and the academia involved in nursing are what drew her.

“I look at those three pieces and think, wow, with one nursing license we are humanitarians, we work with the latest technology and we have access to the latest in nursing research and academia,” Morocco says. “I still love nursing today for those reasons.”

And with more than 20 years of healthcare leadership experience, Morocco says she aims to instill that same passion, pride and excitement across her teams.

Creating a healthy work environment

Morocco believes a nurse leader’s primary responsibility is to create a healthy work environment where employees want to work, patients want to receive care and physicians want to practice.

“Even though you wear 100 hats, that is the most important part of the job,” she says. “You are creating a culture that includes professionalism, training, support, good equipment and an environment where employees feel safe, well respected and appreciated so that patients receive the highest standard of nursing care. These are the environments I want to nurture and lead.”

Among Morocco’s goals as CNO are to grow an even greater workforce at Lutheran Hospital, as well as expand the services the hospital provides.

“I want Lutheran to be a place that draws caregivers in and makes them want to work here,” says Morocco. “Lutheran is a unique specialty hospital that has an incredible mission to serve the underserved. We care for diverse patient populations, and we strive to ensure all patients have easy access to care. This commitment to caring for the community is the foundation of nursing and of medicine.”

The best in care delivery

Throughout her nursing career, which includes positions at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, St. Mary’s Health Care System and Mercy Health St. Elizabeth, Morocco has aimed to deliver evidence-based care that is of the highest quality.

“I have high standards for quality,” Morocco says. “I want the nursing caregivers I lead to take care of every patient as if they were taking care of their own family member. Every patient deserves that. Patients care about how they’ve been treated. Care should be clean and competent, yes, but being treated with compassion and kindness is equally vital.”

Morocco believes that to ensure high quality care, continuous improvement must happen.

“The goal is 100% quality all the time, but there are always opportunities to improve,” she says. “The nursing profession is always in a state of continuous improvement and nurses are responsible to that.”

Nurses are expected to identify improvement opportunities, collect data to validate them and put best practices in place to make things better, she explains. And transparency, she says, is highly important when making improvements. Evidence-based research is also at the top of Morocco’s quality care list.


“Research is very important in healthcare because you have so many disciplines working together,” she says. “The decisions we make must always have solid, reputable resources backing them. Everything we do should be based on evidence.”

Morocco says that evidence-based organizations play a major role in nursing practice.

“Nurses’ certifications and ongoing expertise come from evidence-based organizations,” Morocco says. “Nurses care a lot about certifications and meeting the rigorous requirements that deem them experts at what they are doing. The highest level of nursing competency comes from certification, and certification comes from the best in industry research and resource.”

Morocco also recognizes the importance of all caregivers working together to deliver superior patient care.

“As a nurse leader, you have to appreciate and understand all the different parts of what goes into taking care of patients,” she says. “How care is delivered isn’t through one bedside nurse, it’s through a team of teams. You can’t care for complex patients in silos, and I am mindful of the many essential services and caregiver partners that support nursing. I love how Cleveland Clinic brings the teams of teams together to deliver the best in patient care.”

Developing generations of nurses

One of Morocco’s passions is mentoring.

“As a leader, you are always a mentor,” she says. “You always serve as a role model, and I like that responsibility.”

Morocco says she enjoys helping nurses develop throughout every stage of their careers and she believes the nursing profession is one that benefits from constant mentorship.

“I love working with all generations of nursing,” she says. “Everyone has special talents, from seasoned nurses to new graduate nurses. I enjoy seeing how the experience of each generation helps other generations learn new things. Seeing nurses work together like this is so rewarding.”

To this day, Morocco references her first career mentor, who was her first nurse manager. She considers how she handled things, her consistency, her visibility to other nurses and her cheerful attitude. Morocco says there were many times throughout her career when she would ask herself, “What would she do?”

As far as bringing her 20 years of leadership expertise to the Cleveland Clinic team, Morocco says it is a career dream. “I’ve always wanted to work at Cleveland Clinic,” she says. “Thanks to a thoughtful journey and experiences, I have found myself where I always wanted to be and I’m really happy about it.”


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