August 10, 2009

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Health Care Heros

By Candace M. Little and Sarah Ryther-Francom

August 10, 2009

As health care woes loom across the nation, it’s now more important than ever to recognize individuals who are committed to keeping us, and the overall industry, healthy. Utah Business magazine is proud to present the 2009 Health Care Heroes. Each honoree has proven time and time again a passion for health care. Some have literally healed our bodies, others have brought a bit of sunshine into dark moments and some are corporations creating innovations that are paving the way toward a healthier tomorrow. Though each honoree brings something unique to the health care table, they all exemplify a devotion and passion to improved health care. Join Utah Business as we give thanks to some of Utah’s real life heroes bettering our health and our lives. Lifetime Achievement Linn J. Baker CEO (Retired) Public Employees Health Program “National health care reform is inevitable, those that look for opportunities in this new health care system will be rewarded, and those that resist the changes will struggle with success,” says Linn J. Baker, Public Employees Health Program (PEHP) founder and recently retired CEO of 31 years. Baker knows a little bit about success and health care, as he helped develop the State of Utah’s self-administered health, dental, life and long-term disability programs. “Every American needs to understand the importance of having affordable, quality health care for all citizens,” says Baker, who is well-recognized for his efforts in achieving just that. Baker does and has served on a number of advisory boards and committees, including helping the Utah Department of Health develop the “Healthy Utah” program and founding the National State and Local Government Benefits Association, which named its lifetime achievement award after him. Though retired, Baker remains committed to health care and has recently been involved with comprehensive health reform for the state. Brent C. James, M.D. Executive Director of Intermountain Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research Intermountain Healthcare From Idaho farm boy, to physics student, to computer scientist, to statistician to medical doctor, Dr. Brent C. James has left footprints everywhere from working on the original eight computers of the Internet to helping develop the cardiovascular, oncology and women and newborns clinical programs at IHC. James has focused on quality improvement, and is recognized throughout the world as a medical expert and inspiration, receiving numerous awards and participating in national and worldwide advisory positions. Health reform, James says, “is already well underway, and far past the tipping point. Utah was one of the major spark points. We continue to lead.” And James has led through founding the Intermountain Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research, a program that has trained more than 2,000 health care professionals in clinical practice improvement. In addition to his leadership in health care, his peers know James as kind, charismatic, humble, a humanitarian and a seeker of truth. Paul H. Robinson, M.D. General Surgeon and Medical Director American Fork Hospital From practicing a mixture of surgery and family medicine in a portable trailer behind the old American Fork hospital to becoming general surgeon and medical director there, Dr. Paul H. Robinson has seen a lot change in medicine over the past 30 years. But one thing has remained constant: his tireless efforts to ensure his patients receive the best care—even if it meant weeks and months of being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, filling in for other medical professionals while they were at war or calling patients while on his few vacations. Robinson follows his own advice to future doctors perfectly. He says, “work hard and learn all you can during your training, so that you can give the highest standard of quality care to every patient you treat. Then go out and do what ever you have trained to do with compassion and sincere personal concern for your patients.” Administrative Excellence Steve Bateman Chief Executive Officer St. Mark’s Hospital, MountainStar Healthcare For nearly 30 years, Steve Bateman has served Utah’s health care industry as an administrator in two health care systems and eight hospitals, as well as served as CEO of five different hospitals. Bateman says it’s working with others to meet a goal that keeps him motivated. “I believe that the fundamental responsibility of my job is to create an environment in which others in our organization can be successful,” he says. “That’s the primary reason I come to work each day, and it is the benchmark by which I measure myself each day when I go home.” Bateman says what he enjoys most about his position is helping the hospital succeed in every way he can. “I really enjoy it when hospital nurses give me the chance to do something for them or their patients like holding a newborn baby or rounding up needed equipment. It reminds me why we are in this profession.” Marc H. Bennett President and CEO HealthInsight Marc H. Bennett has been devoted to healing the nation’s health care system for more than 20 years. As CEO and president of HealthInsight, Bennett has been a driving force in the ailing health care industry, promoting transparency and public reporting, health information technology and payment reform. “I believe that our health care system is broken in fundamental ways,” says Bennett. “At the same time, I believe there is cause for great hope. Health care in Utah is staffed by caring and capable professionals and administrators and workers who really want to do the right things for their patients.” Bennett has proven to be one of those professionals; beyond leading HealthInsight, Bennett serves on numerous local and national health-related boards. And though times are tough, Bennett is up to the challenge. “Improving health care in a sustainable way is very difficult. But when you do succeed at a task in this field, it really makes a difference for all of us.” Ron Liston Administrator and Operations Officer Orem Community Hospital Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Ron Liston says he is in health care “for the warmest and fuzziest of reasons.” Liston, who says his goal is to make a difference every day, finds reward when a higher level of care is provided for patients. “Although not working directly with patients daily, I believe what I do improves patient care and services,” he says. And his work and dedication does just that. Liston joined Intermountain Healthcare more than 20 years ago to open the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, a challenge he embraced as an opportunity. Under Liston’s leadership, the center received consistent three-year accreditations from the commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. The past three years Liston has continued to lead health care efforts as the administrator at Orem Community Hospital and the operations officer for Surgical Services and Rehabilitation Services within Intermountain Healthcare’s three Utah County hospitals, where he and his team won the 2008 Hospital Quality Award from HealthInsight. Healthcare Providers – Physician Suzanne M. Daly, M.D. Gastroenterology Associates St. Mark’s Hospital Dr. Suzanne M. Daly is committed to improving the health of individuals close to home and across the globe. As co-founder of Utah Women’s Digestive Health, Daly has spent much of her career focused on improving and healing the distinctive gastrointestinal health of Utah women. But beyond her work in the Beehive State, Daly has volunteered and contributed to numerous international health-related projects. One of her more recent passions is working in the Solomon Islands, upgrading the country’s medical care. While on a scuba diving trip to the country, Daly learned that the local hospital not only lacked a staff physician, but it also did not have a lab, radiology equipment or even electricity. “That visit ignited a fire within me to provide much needed medical care for these people,” Daly says. Since discovering the need, Daly has invested time, money and her medical expertise, truly making a different to the people of the Solomon Islands. C. Richard Dunn, M.D. Radiologist Brigham City Community Hospital Dr. C. Richard Dunn, a radiologist at Brigham City Community Hospital for more than 25 years, says the hunt for disease is the challenge that keeps him coming back day after day. But what keeps him smiling day after day is treating patients and then watching them go on with their life. Dunn, a specialist in nuclear medicine and radiology who has been recognized with the Association of Radiologists Gold Medal Memorial Award, has built a solid reputation for his expertise and dedication to patient care. Dunn has served on the Brigham City Community Hospital Board of Trustees both as a trustee and as the chair. He was also the president of the Medical Staff and has served on many hospital committees over the years. “My goal is to make the person sitting across the table from me happy. I get more joy out of that than anything I can think of.” Tracy Hill, M.D. Pulmonologist Utah Valley Regional Medical Center “It is important to remember that in health care, high quality care is the most cost effective care,” says Dr. Tracy Hill. “Compromising quality will not solve our problems.” This is something Hill learned early on, and as a result has applied to his 26 years as a pulmonologist and intensive medicine physician. Hill is known for his extensive patient care, staying hours by bedsides with patients and their families. Hill says he was inspired at a young age to become a physician and that his determination never wavered. In his career he has participated in many medical societies, boards and associations including serving as the president of the Utah County Medical Society and as the venue medical officer for the Salt Lake City Olympics. He is also the medical director for critical care services at the hospital and played a key role in developing a trauma program that resulted in a Level II Trauma Center designation for the hospital by the State of Utah. Health Care Providers – Non-physician Maria Black Administrative Director, Cardiovascular Services Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Intermountain Healthcare Maria Black always wanted to be a health care provider, and turned her dream into a nursing career. Black says her career “gave me the science of medicine, emphasized the value of caring and gave me the opportunity to touch people’s lives.” For the past 17 years, Black has touched the lives of patients, co-workers and neighbors, helping them understand the importance of keeping their hearts healthy. She has played a key role in developing best practices for heart health and glucose management. Black is also known for walking her talk and her example of healthy living is an inspiration to everyone around her. “There is so much that could be done to emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of disease,” Black says. She hopes, one day, to see as many red ribbons representing the fight against heart disease, as there are pink ribbons for breast cancer. Sheila Cardwell Registered Nurse St. Mark’s Hospital When Sheila Cardwell attended nursing school to enhance her career as a community service advisor, little did she know she’d soon become passionate about the nursing profession she has now been doing for nearly 20 years. “My goal was to combine both fields, but after finishing nursing school I chose to continue just nursing.” Cardwell says though the job is never easy, she truly enjoys helping others. She says alleviating patient fear and aiding a speedy recovery is what keeps her motivated each day. “When these patients have less fear, they have faster recoveries and less post op complications and I feel rewarded,” she says. “Many times patients will come back and visit wanting me to see how well they are doing. That is rewarding!” Outside of the hospital, Cardwell extends her health care devotion as a volunteer for Project HOPE where she promotes health care and education around the world. Sister Stephanie Mongeon Director of Community Relations and Mission Services Ogden Regional Medical Center Patient advocacy, pastoral care and community outreach are among Sister Stephanie Mongeon’s responsibilities and passions. For more than 40 years, Mongeon has dedicated herself to improving individual health care, as well as the health of the overall community. Mongeon began her career in 1965, joining the staff of Ogden Regional Medical Center where she served as the first as director of dietary services. Today, Mongeon serves as director of Mission and Community Relations. She is also currently a member of the Ogden Rescue Mission Clinic Board and the Weber Coalition for a Healthy Community Board. Additionally, Sister Stephanie plays a leadership role in St. Benedict’s Foundation’s activities that benefit local women, children and families. “What I hope for daily is to value people and help them see their own giftedness and find happiness in sharing it with others,” she says. Volunteer Pamela Clark and Janet Kinneberg Owners, Parting Thoughts Pamela Clark and Janet Kinneberg, inspired by their own love of personal history, are helping Utah hospice patients capture their histories on video. For the past year, this duo has shared tears and laughs with numerous patients. Clark’s career was cut short when her Multiple Sclerosis worsened, but she says, “My disability caused me to slow down and learn that it is truly in giving that you receive.” Clark and Kinneberg are self-taught interviewers, videographers, sound technicians and audio experts, who follow a motto coined by Phil Cousineau: “Our task in life is to find our deep soul work and throw ourselves headlong into it.” With plans to turn the volunteer business into a not-for-profit company, this team is anxious to continue to record the “deep soul work” and life histories of hospice patients, and in the process reassure them that their lives matter and they won’t be forgotten. Carmen B. Pingree Board of Trustees Primary Children’s Medical Center Intermountain Healthcare Carmen B. Pingree is often associated with her tireless and groundbreaking efforts on behalf of children and adults with Autism, where she has been involved for the past 20 years. But her efforts go past the walls of the Carmen B. Pingree Center for Children with Autism. Inspiring, influential and a leader, Pingree has served on Intermountain Healthcare’s central Board of Trustees for three years, and recently received the organization’s Trustee of Excellence award for her unpaid dedication and expertise in guiding Intermountain Healthcare. She has served on the Governing Board of Primary Children’s Medical Center since 2001, serving as the board chair for the past four years. Pingree is rewarded knowing Primary Children’s motto, “the child first and always” is truly practiced at the hospital. “Volunteering gives us the splendid opportunity to associate with good people in the community working for a common cause,” Pingree says. “It’s a great part of life!” Jeri Sladek Ogden Regional Medical Center Jeri Sladek, a volunteer at Ogden Regional Medical Center for more than 30 years, has a personal mission: improve the well being of hospital staff, patients and guests. And that’s just what she’s doing. After receiving her first assignment in 1976 at St. Benedict’s Hospital, now known as Ogden Regional Medical Center, Sladek discovered a passion for helping others and has remained committed ever since. As one nurse says of Sladek, “During the years she worked with us, we wanted to clone her five times over—once for each day of the week. She was pure sunshine for patients.” Today, Sladek has donated more than 13,350 hours of service to the hospital and its patients. “Volunteering here is a big part of my life, it is my second home,” she says. “Being here feels like home and the people feel like family. You give your best to your family.” Community Outreach DeAnn Ekins Barnson CEO, EMEDCO Nurse, St. Mark’s Hospital Though DeAnn Ekins Barnson has been working as a nurse for more than 20 years, she says emergency education has been her passion. Barnson serves as CEO of EMEDCO, a non-profit company that teaches businesses and emergency professionals emergency training. Since forming the organization with her husband in 1978, Barnson has provided emergency instruction to more than 5,000 firefighters and EMS personnel, coordinated the first EMT basic course for Jordan School District and Granite School District, represented Utah in Washington D.C. at an Emergency Care for Children Program and organized the first Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support course in Utah. “I have been able to do both things I love…care for others and teach,” she says. “Every moment is a gift, a chance to learn, to love, to try and make life better for others. It has been a gift that I have been grateful for.” Khosrow Semnani Founder Maliheh Free Clinic After supporting clean water projects, famine relief, vaccination programs, disaster relief efforts, and HIV and malaria prevention, intervention and education in places all over the world, Khosrow Semnani extended another helping hand, this time to the people of Utah. Semnani opened Maliheh Free Clinic, a South Salt Lake volunteer-based clinic that provides free health care to uninsured children and adults. The clinic is named after Semanani’s grandmother who “gave of herself to others so that their burdens might be lighter, their visions longer and dreams could be fulfilled,” Semnani says. When children return to school after immunizations or a chronic diseased worker returns to work after treatment, the clinic is doing just what his grandmother would have hoped. Semnani says the clinic could not exist without the volunteer health professionals, support staff, anonymous donors and many other selfless givers. “These are the angels among us.” Kathie Supiano Director Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program Assistant Professor (Clinical) University of Utah College of Nursing As director of Caring Connections, an organization that offers bereavement support, Kathie Supiano has touched numerous lives of those who need it most—people who are suffering, struggling with a loss or are near death. “It is an honor to hear each person’s story and join in their story as an agent of change and growth,” Supiano says. “The challenge is finding the hope and potential that the suffering person cannot yet see.” Supiano has been a practicing clinical social worker and psychotherapist for more than 25 years, but for the past three and a half years has been on the front lines of Utah’s grief battlefield. Through her role at the University of Utah College of Nursing, she takes information about grief, loss and healing in the institution’s bereavement care program, and provides it to the broader community. “It requires patience and respect for each person’s needs and journey,” Supiano says. “In my life, in my clients’ lives, it’s as much about the process as the outcome.” Corporate Achievement CHG Healthcare Services While most companies are slamming the brakes on extra employee benefits, CHG is keeping its employee health wellness programs moving full speed ahead. The company’s motto, “Putting People First,” extends from its clients to its employees, says Nicole Thurman, director of benefits at CHG. “Last year we put into place a new wellness program to encourage physical and emotional wellness for our employees, as well as promote a balanced work-life ratio,” says Thurman. “Our belief is that having healthier employees will make them happier and more productive, resulting in better customer service to our clients and candidates. We believe employees who are less-stressed and satisfied also contribute positively both personally and professionally to the work environment, and that goes a long way to enhance our unique culture.” Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah At Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, being healthy is easy, fun and rewarding. The company offers a variety of ways to keep employees fit on the job, including discounts on healthy foods, on-site gyms, on-site Weight Watchers (1,500 employees have lost more than 18,000 pounds) and team-based competitions. The company also offers classes to keep employees mentally healthy, like safety and financial fitness courses. “Regence has a dual purpose in fostering a healthy workplace,” says Scott Ideson, plan president. “Not only are we doing right by workers, but—from customer service to the health coach—our workers are better able to advocate for member health because they experience it themselves. And, a healthier workforce can temper the long-term cost of employee health insurance.” According to Ideson, research shows the company’s return on its health efforts is estimated at $1.59 per $1.00 invested. USANA Health Sciences, Inc. As a leader in providing nutritional and personal-care products, USANA has proven its commitment to health and nutrition advancement. And the company maintains that commitment to its employees. USANA employees are privy to numerous health programs, including being rewarded for using the on-site gym (personal trainers added at no extra cost), being offered free nutritional products and healthy food in the lunchroom (including complimentary fresh fruit). The company also offers smoking cessation programs, hosts an extensive annual health fair, provides access to weekly back and neck massages and schedules regular fitness contests and events such as quarterly 5K walks/runs and inter-department dodge ball tournaments. While there’s no doubt that the numerous health-related programs have boosted employees’ physical fitness, USANA has also garnered many benefits. The company has seen greater productivity, employee retention, satisfaction and reductions in insurance claims. Talk about a win-win situation. Inovation David G. Affleck, M.D. Cardiovascular Surgeon MountainStar Cardiovascular Surgery Atrial Fibrillation (A-fib) is a life-altering and sometimes life-threatening heart rhythm disorder that affects more than 5 million Americans and causes almost one death per hour every day. Reducing this life-threatening heart disorder has been the passion of Dr. David G. Affleck, a cardiovascular surgeon who helped pioneer the Mini-Maze, a treatment for A-fib. Since the treatment got off the ground in 2007, Affleck has been one of few specialists nationwide and the only person in Utah providing Mini-Maze surgery through MountainStar Cardiovascular Surgery. “Not only are our surgical success rates high, my partners and I pride ourselves on offering unsurpassed patient care,” says Affleck. “We aren’t just hands on in the operating room; we remain involved in every case—from the initial consultation to being directly on-call during post-op and recovery. We take care of the whole patient not just the patient’s heart.” Affleck and his team have helped countless patients return to promising future with a reduced risk of stroke and heart failure. Fred P. Lampropoulos Chairman and CEO Merit Medical Systems, Inc. Fred P. Lampropoulos has a passion for developing new products, and the world has a passion for using them. His first invention, which started Merit Medical, revolutionized procedures to detect and treat blocked heart arteries. Lampropoulos gets his inspiration in the hospital scrubbed in with doctors. He takes doctors’ input and then returns to Merit Medical where his ideas are researched and developed by thousands of employees in Utah and across the world. Lampropoulos holds almost 200 U.S. patents through Merit Medical, where they plug out five to 10 new products a year. Lampropolous’ innovative mind has led to an innovative business model, too. The company provides more than 2,000 FDA-cleared devices in custom kits, delivered over night to hospitals and is considered a top leader in the custom kit market. Lampropoulos is also innovative in management style, which has led to the Utah Psychology Association praising Merit Medical for demonstrating an uncommon commitment to its employees. MediConnect South Jordan-based MediConnect is bridging yesterday’s world of paper medical records to today’s world of electronic medical records. The company’s pioneering process of retrieving, scanning and storing medical records in an organized online format is making waves across the nation—from doctors to patients. The company’s patented software gives consumers the ability to build their medical history and create a complete and comprehensive health record to facilitate coordination of care. The process allows both patients and caretakers to make more educated and informed health decisions by participating more fully in the future of their health. Started in 1996, MediConnect’s current partners include Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault, Gene Tree and Passport MD.
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