Central Alabama Hospital Heroes Honored | People
Montgomery – Five area hospital employees and one area physician were honored for their contributions to health care today at a luncheon in Montgomery hosted by the Central Alabama Regional Hospital Council of the Alabama Hospital Association (AlaHA).
The luncheon is one of seven regional awards presentations being held as part of AlaHA’s 10th annual statewide “Hospital Hero” award contest, which recognizes the value of health careers and honors hospital employees who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to the health care field. The contest will culminate with a banquet in February where up to 10 of the regional winners will be honored as statewide Hospital Heroes. One statewide Hospital Physician Hero will also be recognized in February.
“AlaHA is honored to recognize those outstanding caregivers who go above and beyond the call of duty to help their co-workers and to make their patients feel special,” said J. Michael Horsley, FACHE, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “These amazing individuals deserve to be called heroes, not only because they are an inspiration to their colleagues, but also because they have raised the bar in terms of what it means to provide exceptional patient care.”
Central Alabama Hospital Hero honorees include: Pamela Newman, Director of Laboratory and Clinical Resource Management, Baptist Health; Suzie McMahon, Assistant Manager of the Security Department, Baptist Medical Center South; Erica Whitehead, RN, CCRN, East Alabama Medical Center; Kelly Shaw, PT, outpatient rehabilitation coordinator, East Alabama Medical Center; and Gregory Walker, surgery transporter, Vaughan Regional Medical Center. The Hospital Hero Physician honoree is Peter J. Lusche, M.D., Dist. F.A.P.A., East Alabama Medical Center.
Pamela Newman, Director of Laboratory and Clinical Resource Management, Baptist Health, Montgomery
With more than 30 years of health care experience, Pamela Newman currently serves Baptist Health in Montgomery as the system director of the laboratory and Baptist Medical Center South as the leader for case management. She has held previous positions in medical technology, health information and patient access. Ms. Newman serves on numerous hospital committees and is described by her peers as the individual to “go to” to get things done. When the hospital was searching for ways to avoid readmissions, she led the committee that worked to better connect patients with community care providers to ensure the after-care needed to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. She has helped develop a network of connections to community partners to facilitate patient care transitions and improve outcomes and efficiency of care. The program has helped more than 500 patients each year and is now being expanded to other patients at risk of being readmitted. In addition to her hospital leadership, Ms. Newman is vice-chairman of the Sav-A-Life Ministry board of directors. She is also very involved with her church, singing in the choir and with her husband teaching marriage enrichment.
Suzie McMahon, Assistant Manager of the Security Department, Baptist Medical Center South, Montgomery
Suzie McMahan doesn’t provide direct patient care, but she’s a very important part of the Baptist Medical Center South team when it comes to providing a safe environment for patients, families and their visitors. Ms. McMahon is the assistant manager of the security department at Baptist South and has brought with her to the position a wealth of law enforcement experience. She is a retired major with the Montgomery Police Department, a former EOD bomb disposal commander, SWAT team member, narcotics and intelligence commander and Police Academy and firearms instructor. Ms. McMahon was also a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. Co-workers say Ms. McMahon sees her role at the hospital as one with plenty of opportunities to “protect and serve.” She also finds time to serve others in the community on various projects. One example was her effort to work with Baptist Health leaders to donate old furniture to the Wetumpka Food Bank, a gift that was greatly needed and appreciated. She also finds time to serve as a cheerleader and gymnastics mom to her 11-year-old daughter and most recently has become active in scouting as well.
Erica Whitehead, RN, CCRN, East Alabama Medical Center, Opelika
Erica Whitehead is a patient care coordinator with cardiothoracic surgery patients at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. In this role she not only takes care of patients, but also manages day shift staffing and scheduling, handles compliance issues, inventories equipment, participates in patient care improvement projects and helps coach new employees and nursing students. Ms. Whitehead has been involved in several improvement projects which resulted in her unit receiving an award of excellence from the American College of Critical Care Nurses. She is said to be a fantastic nurse with a big heart. Currently, Ms. Whitehead is a leader with the hospital’s fundraising program that provides emergency funds for patients and their families experiencing a crisis, such as gas money to follow an air-lifted patient. She also is active with the hospital’s employee assistance program and has helped organize her department to participate in a Christmas program that provides presents for employees who cannot afford to buy them for their children. In the community, Ms. Whitehead is an active volunteer with the local PTO, with the local Community Market that provides food for families in need and with the local March of Dimes. She is said to be someone who inspires others “to be better, work harder and do more.”
Kelly Shaw, PT, Outpatient Rehabilitation Coordinator, East Alabama Medical Center, Opelika
With more than 22 years of health care experience, Kelly Shaw is a physical therapist with a vision. She tripled the pediatric therapy program at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika and currently serves as the outpatient rehabilitation coordinator. In her role, she coordinates care for the pediatric program, leads staff meetings and assists with staff education and mentoring. Thanks to her efforts, coworkers say the department provides a wide range of pediatric services typically found only at much larger rehabilitation centers. Ms. Shaw is described as a consumate advocate for children with disabilities, having served as a consultant for a dance class for special needs children and as a founder and organizer of Camp Mountain Top, a summer day camp for children with physical impairments. She goes to extra lengths to connect parents of children recently diagnosed with a disability to other parents in similar situations. Ms. Shaw is described as someone who makes things happen; fellow employees describe how she organized a special Christmas for a patient whose family could not afford gifts and how she designed, coordinated and implemented an accessible playground at the clinic to expand patient treatment options.
Gregory Walker, surgery transporter, Vaughan Regional Medical Center, Selma
Greg Walker currently serves as a surgery transporter at Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma, a position he has held for five years. Co-workers say that while his job is to transport surgical patients, Mr. Walker is always the first to do whatever is needed in any department and to do so with a smile. He is described as a kind spirit who does the right thing when no one is looking and exhibits a level of integrity that is admired by his colleagues. When he’s not at the hospital, Mr. Walker can be found caring for his home-bound mother and grandmother, putting their needs before his own. He also is a community volunteer at the teen help center and an assistant football coach at his alma matter. Friends say Mr. Walker mentors teenagers and young adults and sets an excellent example for them, giving countless hours of his personal time and doing so with great enthusiasm.
Physician Hospital Hero – Peter J. Lusche, M.D., Dist. F.A.P.A., East Alabama Medical Center, Opelika
Dr. Peter Lusche, the medical director of the department of psychiatric medicine at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, is said to have dedicated his life in service to those with chronic mental illness. Colleagues describe how he provides services to both inpatients and outpatients and in the past was on call 24 hours a day seven days a week without complaint. In fact, one of the conditions of his employment with the hospital was that he be allowed to provide clinics for children and adolescents at the local mental health center, individuals who do not have the resources to receive outpatient care at his office. It is said that he’s sacrificed much of his personal time to meet the needs of patients while the hospital recruited additional psychiatrists and rather than compromise on a selection, he would work longer hours until a quality candidate arrived. As medical director he has upgraded therapeutic programming, helped design the renovation of the psychiatric unit, helped recruit physicians and most recently is leading the staff in transitioning patients from state hospitals to the local community. Dr. Lusche not only gives of himself at the hospital, but he is also a leader in his church and has been very involved in all of his daughters’ extra-curricular activities.
The Alabama Hospital Association, based in Montgomery, is a statewide trade organization that represents more than 100 hospitals and numerous other health care providers in their efforts to provide quality health care.
Pictured left to right Pamela Newman, Director of Laboratory and Clinical Resource Management, Baptist Health; Gregory Walker, surgery transporter, Vaughan Regional Medical Center; Erica Whitehead, RN, CCRN, East Alabama Medical Center; Kelly Shaw, PT, outpatient rehabilitation coordinator, East Alabama Medical Center; and Suzie McMahon, Assistant Manager of the Security Department, Baptist Medical Center South. Not pictured is Hospital Hero Physician honoree Peter J. Lusche, M.D., Dist. F.A.P.A., East Alabama Medical Center.
Information Source: Alabama Hospital Association