In 2009, NCHN implemented the NCHN Annual Awards program designed to honor outstanding individuals and organizations in the field of health networks. You will find award recipients listed below, along with the Call for Nominations when it is available. It's never too soon to start thinking about who should be recognized this year.
2013 Awards: The 5th NCHN Annual Awards Luncheon is on Wednesday, April 17, in New Orleans, LA
Outstanding New & Emerging Network Leader of the Year
The Outstanding New & Emerging Network Leader Award recognizes extraordinary leadership activities demonstrated by a new network leader/director in the field of health networks (network leader less than five years).
2013 Recipient: Cassalyn David, Santa Cruz Adolescent Wellness Network (AZ)
“Cassalyn immediately became involved in NCHN when she was employed as the Network Director. Within the first month, she attended the NCHN Leadership Summit and became an active member of the 2012-2013 NCHN Leadership Learning Community,” said Rebecca J. Davis, NCHN’s Executive Director. “Her grasp of the role a network plays in the overall delivery of quality healthcare was immediate. She immediately began developing strategies to ensure the network’s long-term stability, recruited new members and diversified its funding sources. Her peers across the country recognized her leadership skills with this award.”
In her nine months as the Network Director, Cassalyn is particularly proud of the unique activities that have received great responses. To support the creation of school-based health care, the network invited school district administrators on a site visit to school wellness centers in a nearby town. It speaks highly of the network’s reputation that these busy administrators joined in, hit the road, brought their questions, and subsequently expressed enthusiastic support for school wellness in their districts. Health care for adolescents can be a complicated topic, financially and politically, so Cassalyn is working with the network to build support among key stakeholders and emphasize shared values and goals. This means drawing on nationwide resources, connecting with centers in neighboring communities, and building a strong case for health care in schools.
2012 Recipient: Toniann Richard, HCC of Rural Missouri (MO)
“We received multiple submissions nominating Toniann Richard for this award,” said Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. “Since becoming a member in 2009, Toniann has been very active, participating in multiple committees and sharing lessons learned during her tenure as a network director. She truly stands out as a leader among her peers and has tremendous energy for collaboration not only within her region, but with network leaders nationwide.” According to one nomination for Richard, “Her willingness to share her knowledge is contagious. She is determined, fast acting, resourceful, and displays the great entrepreneurial skills that make a great network leader.”
The HCC was founded in 2006 and, under Toniann Richard’s leadership, has implemented numerous successful programs which enhance the delivery of quality health care in the region. “Our strength lies in developing collaborative relationships,” said Richard. “Utilizing the strengths of individual organizations, we are able to develop services and programs that are larger than any single organization.” Richard has been persistent, systematic, and successful in her efforts to secure funding for program implementation and development, having applied for and received grants to evaluate and address needs for the uninsured and underserved, implement Telemedicine and Electronic Health Records, provide education, support, and access to diabetes care and encourage overall wellness.
2011 Recipient: Esther Hammerschlag, Prince of Wales Health Network, AK
Current members of the Prince of Wales Health Network are PeaceHealth, SEARHC, State of Alaska Craig Public Health Center, and Alaska Island Community Services. The Prince of Wales Health Network was formed in 2008 out of a mutually recognized need by POW’s healthcare providers for increased collaboration to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare services to POW residents. The original goals of the Network were to evaluate the possibility for longer term collaboration through strengthening relationships between the healthcare provider organizations, updating needs assessments for POW, and developing a strategic plan for primary care services on POW.
Under Hammerschlag’s skillful leadership, the Network rapidly exceeded expectations, and expanded its objectives to include needs assessment and strategic planning for behavioral health services on POW, market analysis for elder care services on POW, increased support for the Island’s EMS system, and formation of a community based behavioral health coalition. Other Network accomplishments include increased visiting specialty clinics, continuing education opportunities for providers, and increased community education about services available on Prince of Wales Island. Most important, the Network has facilitated increased communication and collaboration between the healthcare providers serving the island, community stakeholders, and state agency representatives.
2010 Recipient: Cindy Large, Indiana Statewide Rural Health Network, IN
Large was specifically recognized her for efficiency as a network leader and her ability to inspire and instill confidence in other leaders who are just embarking on the formation of networks. “Cindy’s nomination said it best,” adds Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. According to one member who nominated Large, “Cindy has inspired and encouraged me to move forward with my leadership as Grant Coordinator for our Network Planning Grant.” As a presenter at the 2008 NCHN Annual Conference in San Diego, “She was both welcoming and authentic,” the nominator said. “Her first words, ‘I was sitting in your seat last year, and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!’ She shared her experience in such a way, that not only did I visit with her at the conference, I’ve called and written her several times since. At the end of each conversation I left with the sense that I know I can do this...”
Large served as the leadership for the initial grant application which gave rise to the Indiana Statewide Rural Health Network in 2008. She assembled partners with the expertise and connections to rural heath, to create a cohesive group of hospitals in rural Indiana, that are working together to improve the quality of and access to healthcare in Indiana’s underserved communities. In just two years, Large has created a fully sustainable network based on a unique combination of membership fees, grant collaborations and partnerships, usage fees and administrative fees. The InSRHN provides an extremely low cost, high return, model to provide each member with substantial return on investment for their time and financial commitment. In 2009, under Cindy’s leadership, the Network achieved a 477% return on investment for its individual members.
2009 Recipient: Tara Cramer, East Georgia Health Cooperative, GA
“Tara’s nomination said it best,” adds Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. “Tara never loses sight of why many of us are a part of NCHN and leading the networks across the nation: Care is best delivered close to home and networks contribute significantly to this vision.”
Tara began working as the Executive Director for the East Georgia Health Cooperative in August 2007 and has grown this once nine-county partnership to a point where it stretches to seventeen counties. The East Georgia Health Cooperative was formed in 1999 as the first multi-county rural health network focused on improving access and health status in Georgia. East Georgia Health Cooperative is a vertical network comprised of Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) corporations, rural hospitals, and an academic medical center. It began as a partnership among care providers focused on supporting one another and improving the health status of the community with Diabetes Education and Management as the primary service of the Cooperative. It has since expanded into many related areas and continues to significantly impact the accessibility of health care for patients in the network members’ communities.
Outstanding Health Network of the Year
The Outstanding Health Network of the Year Award recognizes any network or entire network organization that has improved access to health services in its service area and coordination of resources for network members through innovative, comprehensive approaches.
2013 Recipient: Southwest Idaho Community Health Network, Steve Stoddard (ID)
The Southwest Idaho Community Health Network was established in 1998 and has twelve member hospitals. Nine of the hospitals are Critical Access Hospitals, one is a Rehab Hospital and two are regional tertiary hospitals. SWICHN’s mission is to be a forum for healthcare professionals to educate, innovate, network and collaborate for improved healthcare delivery among its members.
For nearly fifteen years, SWICHN has provided valuable benefits to its members. The network has been successful in creating and maintaining eight active Peer Network Committees, saving the member hospitals millions of dollars each year through group purchase contracts and providing valuable education programs on achieving meaningful use and ICD-10 preparation. Each year, the hospital board members, executive teams and physician leaders enjoy the SWICHN Board and Leadership Conference. During this event, the attendees receive quality hospital board education, the SWICHN Value Report and opportunities to network. SWICHN’s most recent project was the establishment of a tele-pharmacy service to help its rural hospitals improve their quality of care through an affordable model.
“The Southwest Idaho Community Health Network has been an active member of NCHN for several years. This morning, Stephen Stoddard, Executive Director of the network, was elected to his second three-year term as a Director of NCHN,” said Rebecca J. Davis, NCHN’s Executive Director. “Stephen serves on the NCHN Business Partner Committee and has chaired the RHNR Consulting Group Task Force since its inception. This past year, he stepped up to serve as Secretary of NCHN, when our secretary resigned. His leadership skills and management of the network are recognized by his peers with this award,” stated Dr. Davis.
2012 Recipient: The Hospital Cooperative, ID
The Hospital Cooperative is a 501(c)3 network formed in 2000 with the assistance of a HRSA Rural Health Network Development Grant. THC has thirteen member hospitals, eleven of which are Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and two larger acute care hospitals. All thirteen members operate clinics and nine operate co-located nursing homes. THC’s primary goal is to improve healthcare in Southeast Idaho and West Wyoming.
During its twelve years of operation, THC has been successful in developing a Telehealth network that provides both clinical and non-clinical services. Clinical services include tele-psychiatry, tele-oncology and tele-radiology. New services are being developed in burn care, cardiology, emergency care, and infectious diseases. THC has also managed Brake for Breakfast, a program for breast cancer awareness. This program is held each October and serves over 13,000 attendees. In 2008, THC received the Health Care Hero Outreach award for the state of Idaho. “The Hospital Cooperative exemplifies a strong, progressive network,” said Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. “From its use of technology for delivery of specialty care to patients who would otherwise have to drive long – sometimes prohibitively long – distances to receive care to its operation of a mobile MRI unit, THC is finding dynamic, effective ways to improve health care delivery in its service area. Jon Smith, THC’s Executive Director, has been an active NCHN member for years and it has been exciting to watch his network grow and adapt as the context of health care delivery changes not just geographically, but legally.”
2011 Recipient: Sunflower Health Network, KS
The Sunflower Health Network is comprised of 16 member hospitals primarily serving north central Kansas, including Clay County Medical Center, Cloud County Health Center, Ellsworth County Medical Center, Herington Municipal Hospital, Jewell County Hospital, Lincoln County Hospital, Lindsborg Community Hospital, Memorial Health System – Abilene, Memorial Hospital – McPherson, Mitchell County Hospital-Health Systems, Osborne County Memorial Hospital, Ottawa County Health Center, Republic County Hospital, Salina Regional Health Center, Smith County Memorial Hospital and Anthony Medical Center.
The organization was founded in 1994 to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care delivery in the region. The 16 member hospitals, in conjunction with their medical staffs developed the network to foster cooperation and coordination in order to enhance the integration of health related services among member communities while respecting local autonomy. The organization works to enhance the cost effectiveness of member hospitals and providers by sharing services and/or expertise in such areas as clinical services, support services, administration and education. This has created an infrastructure that has facilitated the improvement of access to health services, improved quality of health services and increased the cost effectiveness of the delivery of health services.
2010 Recipient: Montana Health Network, MT
Montana Health Network has numerous successful programs, including its education programs, temporary staffing pool and specialty staffing process, multiple employer 401(k) plan, insurance plans, and group purchasing. The network has also been instrumental in the development of telemedicine services in the region. In addition to its own programs, Montana Health Network has worked in partnership with other networks, including Northland Healthcare Alliance (ND), Western Healthcare Alliance (CO), Nevada Rural Hospital Partners, Health Future, Inc. (OR) to further programs in mobile imaging, medical collections, staff education, property insurance, and employee investigations.
Both supportive and indicative of its effectiveness, Montana Health Network has been highly successful in securing grants to expand their services. Among them are a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant which funds upgraded pharmacy services in many locations and established telepharmacies in areas where the closes pharmacy was over seventy (70) miles away. “These serve as excellent models for other settings,” said Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. “Montana Health Network truly embodies the ideal of a network, collaborating with organizations within the state and throughout a multi-state region, furthering educational programs, and working to address technological barriers in underserved areas,” added Davis. “This is what networks are designed to do... improve access to health care and make underserved regions more sustainable for providers and health care consumers alike.”
2009 Recipient: Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, WI
“Other NCHN members have said it best,” adds Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN, “RWHC is obviously a group that understands community needs, hospital needs and healthcare needs. It is also clear that the level of collegiality is very high among hospital CEOs and RWHC staff. This only happens when CEOs are convinced, time after time and day after day, that there is value in the partnership.”
Tim Size, Executive Director of RWHC is nationally recognized for his dedication and leadership in network development and rural health issues. The Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative was one of the earliest and most successful models for technological networking among rural, healthcare providers. Their mission is to help rural health providers offer high quality, cost effective care while simultaneously serving as a strong advocate on their behalf.
Owned and operated by 35 smaller, acute care hospitals, the Cooperative's emphasis on developing an integrated network among freestanding entities distinguishes it from alternative approaches. They offer a wide range of services including clinical staffing, finance/coding consulting, quality management, benchmarking, information technology, workforce development, and peer networking/education. It is their focus on achieving balance between advocacy and shared services that has allowed RWHC to sustain their network for 30 years.
Outstanding Network Leaders of the Year
The Outstanding Network Leader of the Year Award recognizes a network leader/director for leadership in managing a successful health network organization.
2013 Recipient: Carolyn Witherspoon, Coalition of Health Services (TX)
Carolyn has served on the NCHN Board of Directors for seven years, including a one year term as NCHN President from 2011 through 2012. “Carolyn’s service to NCHN and its members has been a tremendous asset,” said Rebecca J. Davis, NCHN’s Executive Director. “Her combination of direct experience in rural healthcare delivery and her ability to do so much, and cover such a large service area, with limited financial backing, make her an exemplary leader and a prime example of the efficiency that health networks nationwide seek to achieve. Her peers across the country recognized her leadership with this award.”
In March of 1998, Carolyn Witherspoon began employment with the Coalition of Health Services (COHS) as Quality Assurance Director. Just two years later, she was appointed as the Executive Director following a six month term as Interim Director. Prior to working with COHS, she worked as staff nurse, nursing supervisor and in director positions primarily in rural hospital settings. Carolyn Witherspoon has a passion for rural communities and a strong will to improve health care for residents of the Texas Panhandle. She promotes linking healthcare providers, facilities and suppliers of products to enhance care and is knowledgeable of community needs and the value of partnering and collaboration with all involved in the healthcare industry.
2012 Recipient: Jack King, Northcentral Montana Healthcare Alliance, MT
After a thirty year career as an entrepreneur in the restaurant business and many years as a hospital trustee in Great Falls, Montana, Jack King entered the healthcare field first as a grant writer and then as Executive Director of NMHA in 2003. NMHA is a Hospital Network comprised of two PPS hospitals, two HIS hospitals, and eleven Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and covers a thirteen county region of over 45,000 square miles. “While quiet and unassuming, Jack King has his finger on the pulse of rural health and is a wealth of knowledge on a breadth of topics,” said the person who submitted King’s nomination. “He has led his network in a progressive manner and has been successful at leading a group of competitive CAHs in projects for many years. The awarding of the first HRSA HIT Network Development Grant is another example of Jack’s progressive thinking in positioning his network members for the changes occurring in rural health care.”
Jack King has led his network in its successful implementation and maintenance of numerous programs, including a mobile DEXA screening van, a regional digital radiology and PACS network for its CAH members, telemedicine that provides specialty consultations to patients who otherwise have to drive long distances to receive specialty care. In addition to his work with NMHA, King also directs the REACH Montana Telehealth Network with Benefis Health System in Great Falls. “Jack King is a very busy network leader,” said Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. “Still, he makes time to share his wealth of knowledge with his peers through his service on NCHN’s Board of Directors and numerous NCHN Committees. Jack is always willing to offer assistance to other members and among the first to volunteer to help on new projects. He is an asset to NCHN and to his peers across the country.” For more information about NMHA, visit the NMHA website at www.nmhamontana.org.
2011 Recipient: Carolyn Bruce, Western Healthcare Alliance, CO
Western Healthcare Alliance, formed in 1989, is a not-for-profit rural health network comprised of 26 member hospitals and health-services providers in Colorado. Under Carolyn’s leadership over the last thirteen years WHA has grown to become a profitable, multi-million dollar network with four separate limited liability companies and a staff of over 75 employees.
With more than twenty years of experience in healthcare administration, Carolyn currently manages a portfolio of consulting, programs and services designed to assist rural providers and networks. These programs include Healthcare Management, LLC for the collection of medical bad debt, self-pay billing and financing, Revenue Cycle performance improvement, Horizon Corplex, LLC for office building property management, Employee Benefits and other insurance programs, a Preferred Provider Organization, Leadership Academy for supervisor education and a formal group purchasing organization partnership. WHA now offers programs and expertise to other networks and provides formal leadership to the 32-member California Critical Access Hospital Network and the Frontline Laboratory Network with 24 members located in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.
2010 Recipient: Larry Matheny, Coastal Carolina Health Alliance, NC
Larry Matheny has served as President of the Coastal Carolinas Health Alliance (CCHA) since 2005. Since its inception in 1993, CCHA has served not-for-profit hospitals in North Carolina, placing a major emphasis on regional group purchasing contracts. During Matheny’s tenure, savings have gone from $2.3 million to $5.7 million, an average of over an eight to one (8:1) return on investment. CCHA has concentrated on grant writing and has been awarded several grants to develop a mobile simulation laboratory, a Health Information Exchange (HIE) and a regional sexual assault nurse examiner program (SANE). Efforts are underway to fund a community diabetes education program and a LEAN collaborative for southeastern North Carolina.
“Larry Matheny and CCHA have been an asset to NCHN members,” said Rebecca Davis, Executive Director of NCHN. “He is always willing to share best practices, benchmark data and assist other members in times of need.” In April 2010, Matheny was also elected by the NCHN membership to serve on the NCHN Board of Directors.
2009 Recipient: Tim Cox, Northland Healthcare Alliance, ND
Tim is President of the Northland Healthcare Alliance, a rural health alliance located in Bismarck, North Dakota. The Alliance includes 24 healthcare facilities (one tertiary medical center, 14 Critical Access hospitals, and nine long-term care facilities) working together to strengthen available resources and capacity to deliver value-based healthcare in today’s competitive market. Under Tim’s leadership, the Alliance has been able to secure over $10 million for members and network programs. The Alliance is focused on becoming a form of a RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization) with the objective of serving as a clearinghouse for patient medical information for hospitals in the region.
Over the past 17 years, Tim has been engaged in many healthcare networking activities in different regions of the country. Prior to his current position, Tim served as the Executive Director of the Association of Rural Centers for Health, a hospital network comprised of small rural hospitals located in the corners of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Tim is also a charter member and past president of NCHN, a board member of Communities Joined in Action (CJA), and has been recently elected to the board of the National PACE Association.
Friend of NCHN Award
The Friend of NCHN Award is given to recognize a program, institution, agency, or individual that has advocated for or provided extraordinary support to the Association. Associate members are eligible to recieve the Frend of NCHN award.
2013 Recipient: Ron and Ruth Anne Wheeler (KY)
Anyone who has attended the NCHN Conference for the past 5 years recognize Ron and Ruth Anne Wheeler, the smiling faces at the registration desk and the competent handlers of all conference AV needs. This week, they will have been married for 46 years. They are always happy and willing to help in any way that they can before, during, and after the conference. In addition to handling the AV and registration desk, they are active bluegrass enthusiasts, musicians, and they are involved in numerous community projects. In their spare time, they enjoy their 3 grandsons and their granddaughter.
2012 Recipient: National Rural Health Association
The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 20,000 members. The association’s mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues. NRHA membership consists of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health.
NRHA has more than 20,000 members whose mission is to provide leadership on rural issues through advocacy, communications, education and research.
2011 Recipient: Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Virginia Campus
The decision to establish the College was made after the leaders of the Harvey W. Peters Research Foundation and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) studied the health care needs of Virginia. That study revealed that the Southside and Southwest geographical areas of Virginia had an extreme health care shortage, with 30 counties considered to have critical shortages (HPSA) designations and greater than 70 having medically underserved areas (MUAs).
VCOM is a non-profit, private 501 c-3 charitable organization initially funded by several foundations that were established by the late Marion Bradley Via to benefit Virginia Tech and Southwest Virginia. Marion Bradley's son, Edward Via, was the person instrumental in funding this initiative. John Rocovich J.D., LL.M. and Sue Ellen Rocovich, D.O., Ph.D. were the individuals instrumental in founding the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, laying all the groundwork to establish the College. At the time of initial development, VCOM’s vision was to provide healthcare for Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina, and the Appalachian Region, and to promote biomedical research with Virginia Tech.
2010 Recipient: Heman Marshall
In the past four (4) years, Heman Marshall, III, has contributed many hours of volunteer service to NCHN, including extensive work with the NCHN Board of Directors and By-Laws Committee. Marshall has presented at numerous NCHN Conferences and Regional Meetings and has provided training for Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) network grantees, in conjunction with NCHN’s annual conferences. As a Principal with Woods Rogers Attorneys at Law, Marshall has served as the Coordinator of the firm’s Health Law Practice Section since its inception in the early 1980’s and was the initial Chairman of the Virginia Bar Association Health Law Section and the Virginia State Bar Antitrust, Franchise and Trade Regulations Sections, and is currently a member of the Governing Counsel of the Virginia Bar Association Health Law Section. He has lectured extensively to attorneys and health care professionals and numerous topics. In addition, Marshall is a published author and is listed in the “Best Lawyers in American” under the categories of both Health Care Law and Antitrust. He was recently made a member of “Outstanding Lawyers of America” and s a fellow of both the Virginia Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation.
“Heman has been a valuable asset to NCHN and our work over the past four years,” stated Rebecca J. Davis, Ph.D, the Executive Director of NCHN. “Without his support and dedication to the Association over the past four years, our significant growth and expansion would not have been possible. He has contributed many hours of volunteer work to NCHN and our members that has enabled us to streamline our Business Partner Program application process, update and amend our by-laws, and provide direction on Health Information Technology and its implementation into health network s across the nation. We are greatly indebted to Mr. Marshall for his support, leadership, and his unselfish volunteerism to the Association.”