Healthcare Heroes

Quiet Champions of Hope

By Utah Business Editors | Photography by Brandon Flint

October 7, 2014

From physicians who have dedicated their entire lives to caring for their patients to volunteers who have spent countless hours comforting people who are going through difficult times, this year’s Healthcare Heroes are nothing short of amazing. Join us as we honor 24 of the state’s most humble and talented members of the medical community in our annual Healthcare Heroes program.

Dr. Ginette Pepper

Associate Dean for Research and Ph.D. Program; Director of Hartford Center Geriatric Nursing Excellence; Professor; Helen Bamberger Colby Presidential Endowed Chair in Gerontological Nursing, College Of Nursing, University of Utah

Dr. Ginette Pepper is widely regarding in the medical community for her pioneering work as the nation’s first geriatric nurse practitioner.

During her career, she has become nationally known as an expert in patient safety. Her research to prevent harm resulting from pharmacologic interventions, particularly in the elderly population, is evidenced by her numerous publications and presentations, which have been recognized by multiple research and teaching awards.

Though Pepper paved the way nationally in geriatric research, she says her role as a professor in the University of Utah’s College of Nursing has been the most rewarding part of her career. “I marvel at [the students’] growth and contributions,” she says. “Recently I was in a meeting with a student who was presenting her research to a clinical team. It was heartwarming to see how well she articulated the importance of her research in a way that engaged the clinicians to get involved.”

Pepper is also an advocate for working parents—specifically women. During her career she has worked to make sure nurses are able to work in “an environment that provides the resources working parents need so they can fully contribute to patient care,” she says.

Pepper is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, and in 2013, she was honored by her alma mater, the University of Colorado, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. J. Preston Hughes

Colon and Rectal Surgeon, St. Mark’s Hospital

Dr. J. Preston Hughes followed in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather when he became a doctor, and since the beginning, he’s been serving the community both on and off the job.

Though Hughes is semi-retired as of this year, his decades in the medical field have shown his commitment to Utah’s communities. He has donated both money and service to the Maliheh Free Clinic, Fourth Street Clinic, The Road Home and Hope Clinic.

“The contributions of physicians like Dr. Hughes are what make our clinic possible,” says Jeanie Ashby, executive director at the Maliheh Free Clinic. “No matter what a patient needs, he finds a way to make it happen.”

Hughes also manages the Preston G. Hughes Foundation, named after his father, through which he donates money anonymously to a variety of causes, including opening nine international pharmacies that provide free medications to those in need. His donations also supported the development of a University of Utah educational program that was established to evaluate and improve healthcare in Ghana.

“The highlight of my life has been the administering and gifting of 5 percent of the foundation’s value every year,” Hughes says.

Hughes has also served on several local boards and has earned numerous awards throughout his career, including the U’s Utah Medical Student’s Doctor of the Year in 2008 and the Utah Medical Association’s Distinguished Award in 2007.

Dr. Thomas H. Caine

Clinical Professor, School of Medicine, University of Utah

Dr. Thomas Caine has always been guided by a singular attitude: his deep concern for every patient. In fact, his wife, Mary Ellen, says, “He has always cared about people and this included his patients and their families. It is part of who he is.”

For more than 40 years, Caine has been practicing internal medicine—an area that has been a natural fit for him. He has been known to meet his patients at the emergency room shortly after they call and to visit hospitalized patients on his days off. Because of this, he’s been recognized with the establishment of three presidential endowed chairs, one professorship and two lectureships.

“It is extremely important to get to know your patients,” he says. “The very best way to do this is to listen and take the time. You may be busy, but your patients deserve your undivided attention and care.”

In 1971, Caine became chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, a position he held until 1988. Under his leadership, the division grew from two to 17 faculty members. While there, Caine was also well known for his diplomacy and willingness to get tasks done.

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