The job must often seem thankless—the grueling hours, the regulatory hoops and insurance headaches, the suffering and loss—but in these pages we pay homage to those who have committed their lives to making health care better.
Join us as we give a warm round of applause to the brilliant researchers, the knowledgeable doctors, the comforting volunteers and the administrators who value touch and compassion more than the balance sheet—the quiet champions of healing and hope.
Allan Ainsworth, Ph.D., Executive Director, Fourth Street Clinic
Fourth Street Clinic has transformed the way homeless individuals receive health care—and in the process has impacted the state’s entire health care system. Founded by Allan Ainsworth in 1988, the Fourth Street Clinic has grown into a $5.5 million organization that provides comprehensive primary care services to 6,300 homeless Utahns.
The emergency room was often the first stop for homeless people seeking medical care. But Fourth Street clinic routes these individuals back into primary care, freeing up urgent care facilities and resources.
Additionally, the clinic has become a major hands-on teaching facility for students of disciplines ranging from social work to pharmacology. Nearly every medical student who graduates from the University of Utah School of Medicine has their first hands-on clinical experience at Fourth Street Clinic.
“Not-for-profits must be operated as a business, not as a feel-good hobby,” says Ainsworth. “I see business as a way to serve people in a meaningful way using solid financial and strategic planning at the center.”
Rand Kerr, CEO, Lakeview Hospital, MountainStar Healthcare
Rand Kerr quickly instilled a culture of engagement at Lakeview Hospital when he became CEO in 2006. When he arrived, employee engagement scores were among the lowest for Health Corporation of America’s (HCA) 170 hospitals. Under Kerr’s leadership, the scores began to rise—and in 2009, Lakeview Hospital ranked No. 1 for employee engagement among all HCA hospitals.
Patient satisfaction scores also increased significantly, perhaps a reflection of the hospital’s new mission, “to provide the quality of health care we want our closest loved ones to receive.”
“When we look how health care impacts others, we are talking about costs, providers, organizations, access and many other things you can put on a spreadsheet,” says Kerr, who is also the Utah Reagent for the American College of Healthcare Executives. “However, when we look at how health care impacts ourselves, we are talking about touch, compassion, healing, fear and many other things you can only experience. It is the confluence of these two divergent views that causes health care’s greatest problems.”
Stephen D. Neeleman, M.D., CEO, HealthEquity
During his time working as an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Arizona, Dr. Stephen Neeleman developed the business plan for HealthEquity, a company that provides health care financial services—such as health savings accounts—to businesses and their employees.
Neeleman relocated the company to Utah, and now HealthEquity provides services for more than 500,000 people and 7,000 businesses throughout the country. Founded in 2002, the company has formed relationships with more than 30 health plan partners.
Neeleman, who also practices general surgery in Utah County, believes that the financial services offered by HealthEquity are one answer to the challenge of rising health care costs.
“Health care services are now starting to be disrupted by new legislation and innovations that have changed other industries,” he says. “If companies or people believe they can continue to perform the same administrative functions in the same way they were done 10 or 20 years ago, they will be out of business.”
CHG Healthcare Services
CHG Healthcare Services believes that employees are more than just workers—they have busy lives full of both stress and joy. Through its comprehensive wellness program, the company aims to bring balance to employees’ lives and, not incidentally, to its corporate ledgers.
Through the company’s popular Rock Your Body program, more than 600 CHG employees lost a combined 2,200 pounds and made progress toward other fitness goals.
The company regularly analyzes benefit claim data and other anonymous statistical information to design programs that best address employee needs and also put the brakes on increasing health care costs. Through these efforts, the company’s compounded annual growth rate for health care premiums the last five years has been a stunning 3.4 percent, compared to the national average of nearly 11 percent.
Employees have felt the benefit in their pockets too. CHG Healthcare Services provides health care advocates who ensure that health care billing and insurance reimbursement are accurate for employees—saving employees $68,000 in health care costs to date.
CLEARLINK’s annual employee fitness competition is truly a win-win-win event. Employees lose pounds through a fun and engaging competition—a total of 252 pounds this year—and CLEARLINK reaps the rewards of a healthier workforce. And for every pound lost or every pound of muscle gained, the company donates $10 to the Utah Food Bank.
According to the Utah Food Bank, this year’s fitness competition resulted in $12,000 in food for those in need.
And did we mention the cash prizes? The six division winners of this year’s competition took home a total of $8,500 in prizes.
The annual fitness competition is just one component of CLEARLINK’s overall wellness and work-life balance programs.
“Don’t let cost deter you from implementing a healthy work environment,” advises Bret Fitzgerald, vice president of business development for CLEARLINK. “The benefits will far outweigh the costs, and the employees will know that the company they work for cares about them and their well being.”
*Read more about CLEARLINK’S program and learn how you can start your own company worksite wellness program on page 24.
Weber State University
Weber State University launched a pilot employee wellness program in 1999 that soon grew into a fully operational program offering comprehensive wellness assessments, group fitness classes, an academic internship and three hours per week of wellness release time.
“Employees value the release time during the work week to participate in wellness activities and the personalized attention they receive when they come for their annual wellness assessment,” says Jill Yeiter, coordinator of employee wellness for WSU.
The program’s personalized approach allows employees to focus on healthy living strategies without obsessing about outcomes such as total weight lost.
Weber’s wellness program has received several platinum awards from the Utah Council for Worksite Health Promotion. “We have objective positive ROI data for several years now,” says Yeiter. “There are also many subjective benefits such as a more enjoyable work environment, feeling valued and feeling supported by campus efforts.”
Levacor Left Ventricular Assist Device, WorldHeart Corporation
According to WorldHeart Corporation, its mission is to save, extend and enhance the lives of patients suffering from late-stage heart failure. Its flagship product, the Levacor Left Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), is a mechanical circulatory support system that is implanted to help a patient’s failing heart pump adequate blood.
WorldHeart’s Levacor VAD is the only fully magnetically levitated blood pump that is now in clinical trials. The device provides a “bridge to transplant” for patients who are waiting for a compatible natural heart. In some cases, the Levacor VAD is able to help a failing heart actually recover.
The company has big plans for the device, including a scaled-down version for infants born with congenital heart defects.
The Levacor VAD was developed by four University of Utah researchers in the 1990s. Their company, MedQuest Products, was acquired by WorldHeart in 2005, and the company moved its headquarters to Salt Lake City to focus on the promising new technology.
Nassir F. Marrouche, M.D., FHRS, Executive Director, Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research & Management Center
Dr. Nassir Marrouche is both a world-renowned research scientist and a practicing clinician. He has dedicated his career to finding a cure for atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart rhythm disorder that affects millions of Americans.
Dr. Marrouche’s team of researchers at the University of Utah’s Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research & Management Center (CARMA) is the first in the world to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to refine techniques for burning away damaged heart tissue using catheter ablation. His study has been published in the journal Circulation, and his CARMA team is sponsoring an international study on the use of delayed enhancement MRI to personalize patient treatment.
“Having a cardiac disease is scary, especially arrhythmias, which happen without warning and can make patients feel exhausted and out of control,” says Dr. Marrouche. “It is so rewarding to hear from patients who tell me that our ablation procedure has given them their lives back.”
CARMA has also developed a business partnership with eCardio Diagnostics that will add 120 jobs to Utah’s technology industry.
Tele-neurology and Tele-surgery, University of Utah Health Care Clinical Neurosciences Center
Linda Jo Burt, Chief Nursing Officer, Ogden Regional Medical Center, MountainStar Healthcare
“One of my greatest challenges was deciding to move into administration and not be able to do bedside care with patients every day,” says Linda Jo Burt, known as “Jo” to her colleagues.
Burt has worked for HCA—the parent company of MountainStar—for 29 years, and she has served as chief nursing officer for 21 of those years. She also served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserves for 12 years and earned the prestigious Spirit of Nursing Award from the Corps.
A graduate of Weber State University, Burt now serves on its Nursing Advisory Board.
Her co-workers describe her as a true champion for patients and nurses. “Jo makes a difference in patient lives whether by her own hand as she tends to them or through the hands of the many nurses and CNOs she’s mentored over time,” says Mark Adams, CEO of Ogden Regional Medical Center.
Susan Baggaley, University of Utah Department of Neurosurgery
Chris Portelli, R.N., Co-founder, Kids Only Home Health
Chris Portelli is a visiting angel for children who are suffering from the worst imaginable illnesses. Portelli founded Kids Only Home Health to address the needs of children who were “staying in the hospital beyond what was necessary or simply not receiving adequate care because of a shortage of pediatric home health care.”
Portelli has served in the home health arena for 15 years, and before that she worked at Primary Children’s Medical Center for 18 years. She founded Kids Only Home Health in 2008, and although she recently sold the company, she continues manage it.
She loves to interact with the children and makes sure to play with them before and after difficult procedures. Portelli is also a vital resource for parents who must cope with the acute illness of their child—and then learn how to perform nursing procedures at home. “You see the fear on their faces, hear it in their voices,” she says. “I help them feel confident and proficient.”
Tom Harper, Volunteer – Emergency Department, Ogden Regional Medical Center
Tom Harper’s colleagues at the Ogden Regional Medical Center describe him as a man large in stature, but larger in heart. A former Army combat medic, Harper feels right at home in the emergency department supporting patients and staff.
Of coping with patient deaths in the ER, Harper says, “There are many people who love them who are left behind and at this point, they are the ones who need the care. I can help those.”
He has become such a valuable member of the team that Harper has been tapped to tutor and mentor new ER volunteers. And in at least one instance, beleaguered staff members have called him to come in and help during a busy “siege” in the ER.
He regularly doubles the expected monthly service requirement for ER volunteers—all while maintaining a packed schedule of volunteer work for a variety of organizations. For example, he has been deployed to three separate hurricane disasters by the American Red Cross—all at his own expense.
H. Don Norton, Director and Regional Division Executive, Far West Bank
For 14 years, H. Don Norton has contributed his banking and financial acumen to Intermountain Healthcare as a volunteer trustee on its Governing Board of the Urban South Region and, for 10 years, as a trustee on SelectHealth’s board of directors.
Norton was president and CEO of Far West Bank for many years, until it merged with AmericanWest Bank, where he is now a director and regional division executive.
“My different roles and experiences in working with doctors, hospitals and health insurance was a very unique opportunity—one that I have thoroughly enjoyed,” says Norton of his service to Intermountain Healthcare.
Norton has been involved with major facility and service development projects, particularly the extensive and ongoing projects at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. He also had a hand in SelectHealth’s introduction in 2007 of a low-cost insurance plan for families with children, along with a premium assistance program to help families who don’t qualify for government programs.
Jean Thompson, Volunteer, St. Mark’s Hospital
“If I was starting over again with a career, I’d go into health care,” says Jean Thompson, a hospital volunteer who has given more than 3,600 volunteer hours combined to patients at St. Mark’s Hospital, the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
“I really care about people and their health. I like to listen to them and comfort them,” she says. In 2000, Thompson began volunteering in the Women’s Diagnostic Center at St. Mark’s Hospital, where she helped check in patients. When the position was phased out, she continued helping staff behind the scenes.
Thompson is beloved for greeting patients with a warm smile and a listening ear. She serves in the surgery waiting area at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center and at the front desk at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
“When people tell me they’re bored or depressed, I always encourage them to volunteer. Whenever you do something for someone else, you can’t help but feel good,” she says.
Becky Hatfield, Parent Support Specialist, Parent to Parent - University of Utah Hospital
Hatfield has been advocating for families and infants since 1975, when she helped found Parent to Parent, a support program for families with infants in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NBICU) at the University of Utah Hospital. Because her own child had been born 12 weeks early, Hatfield knew that parents of NBICU babies needed the same level of support that their babies were receiving.
Parent to Parent provides emotional, social and educational support to families. Hatfield volunteered with the program for 14 years, until she was made the program’s coordinator—a role she has filled for two decades. During this time more than 275 volunteers have worked with 14,000 families.
“My practical knowledge came from my own experience as a terrified parent in the Newborn ICU,” she says. “Parent to Parent has been a ‘pay back’ for me … for the life of my child. I could never have chosen a more rewarding career!”
Lori T. Piscopo, CFRE, Chief Development Officer, The Deseret Foundation
Lori T. Piscopo has spent her entire, 30-year professional career with The Deseret Foundation, the fundraising arm of Intermountain Healthcare Urban Central Region. “I began as an administrative assistant and have worked in virtually every capacity of philanthropy,” she says.
“Our mission is to support medical research, education, technology and charity care—all of which leads to the improvement of care for the patients and families we serve.”
The daughter of a physician, Piscopo brings passion and tenacity to her fundraising efforts. Under her leadership, The Deseret Foundation has funded 367 medical research projects totaling $49.7 million in disbursements. She also tackled an ambitious capital campaign to raise $50 million to assist in the construction of the new Intermountain Medical Center.
“This seemed like a staggering amount to raise,” she says. “But through the generosity of great individuals, corporations and foundations, we were able to secure $50.6 million.”
Jeffrey G. Randle, M.D., Salt Lake Orthopaedic Clinic
“It was a terrible/amazing experience,” says Dr. Jeffrey Randle of his trip to Haiti five days after the January earthquake. “Much of it reminded me of a war zone in which men, women and children were affected indiscriminately.”
His humanitarian trip to Haiti after the earthquake was just the latest example of Randle’s dedication to relieving the great suffering in Haiti—the poorest nation in the West.
A private practice physician who specializes in musculoskeletal medicine,. Randle was a key founder of the charitable organization Healing Hands for Haiti Foundation, which was created in 1998 to provide medical care to disabled people in Haiti. Since its inception, the organization has treated more than 10,000 patients and provided more than 1,000 wheelchairs and 1,000 prosthetic limbs.
In 2000, the foundation created a state-of-the-art care center in Haiti with a prosthetic shop, physical and occupational therapy facilities, and a rehabilitation medical clinic. Sadly, six of the center’s seven buildings were destroyed in the earthquake. “We are making plans to rebuild and hope to raise enough money to make our clinic even better,” says Randle.
Ronald I. Apfelbaum, M.D., University of Utah Department of Neurosurgery
A. Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D.; Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, CEO of University of Utah Health Care, and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine; University of Utah
In early June, Dr. Lorris Betz announced that he will be retiring during the upcoming year. Betz will leave a tremendous imprint on the University of Utah and on the health care industry in Utah. During his 11-year tenure, the university has opened or drastically remodeled 12 major facilities for education, research or clinical practice.
Under his leadership, the university’s health sciences budget has grown from $830 million to more than $2 billion this year.
Additionally, Betz was instrumental in the integration of the University of Utah Health Care system—aligning the university’s medical group, clinical programs, and hospitals and clinics.
Reflecting on his career, Betz says, “I specifically chose the field of academic medicine so I could help train the next generation of physicians, do research that contributes to the development of new treatments for disease and practice medicine in an environment that is at the forefront of applying new technologies.”
D. Scott Ideson, President (retired), Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah
In September, Scott Ideson will retire after serving for 40 years in the health care industry. Ideson joined Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Utah in 1999 as senior vice president of operations. In that role, he successfully negotiated hospital contracts in Utah and Idaho so that Regence members would have access to care in hospitals that accept Regence insurance.
Ideson was promoted to president in 2003, and he became involved in community outreach and public and legislative affairs. He also served as chairman of the board of the Regence Caring Foundation for Children, a nonprofit organization that provides free dental care to low-income children in Utah and Idaho.
“I have spent my entire career in non-profit health care and had the privilege of serving the communities in which I have lived,” says Ideson. “As I retire I hope to remain active in the community and hopefully continue to make a difference.”
Joseph E. Graham, M.D., Ogden Regional Medical Center
Sterling G. Potter, M.D.
Dr. Sterling Potter wears many hats in Carbon County. He is in private practice as a family physician; is chief of staff for Castleview Hospital; serves as the medical director for the Parkdale Care Center, Pinnacle Care and Rehabilitation, and Community Hospice; and also works as the deputy medical examiner for both Carbon and Emery counties.
In addition to his regular practice, Potter also treats patients with drug dependency, a task he calls “rewarding and heartbreaking.”
As one of 12 siblings, Potter supported himself through college. “The challenge of being self-supported lead to innovation and self-reliance,” he says. He joined the Public Health Service during his last two years of medical school. After his residency, he moved to Price, which was designated as a “physician shortage” area. He has now served the Carbon County community for 29 years. The doctor, who is renowned for his compassion and humor, has no plans to slow down any time soon.
Sharon M. Weinstein, M.D., University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute