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The Ascension Health “Living the Mission and Values Awards” were established to recognize and honor people and programs recommended by associates of Ascension Health for their dedication and commitment to our Mission and Values. To learn more about the 2012 Award Winners, click on their names:

Gwen Gallegos, Carondelet Health Network, Tucson, Ariz. - Individual Award Recipient
Lourdes Jail Services, Lourdes Health Network, Pasco, Wash. - Program Award Recipient
Pediatric Feeding Program, St. Mary's Medical Center, Evansville, Ind. - Organizational Component Award Recipient

Each nominee is recognized as one whom:

  • Demonstrates an extraordinary and recognized way to live the Mission and Values
  • Inspires, supports and encourages others to embrace the Mission and Values
  • Acts to enhance organizational commitment to living the Mission and Values

Every two years an invitation to submit nominations is sent throughout Ascension Health to nominate a person, a program or an organizational component based on the above criteria. The Ascension Health Selection Committee selects a winner for each category who receives the award at the Leadership Convocation.

The awards were established to acknowledge the highest level of excellence in the area of demonstrated and recognized day-to-day expression of Mission and Values of Ascension Health.  These awards also were created with the understanding that living the Mission and Values is not the exception, but the norm throughout Ascension Health.

For more information, contact Laura Moore O'Hara, Executive Assistant, Mission Integration and Theological Education at 314-733-8292 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Individual Award Recipient
Gwen Gallegos
Carondelet Health Network, Tucson, Ariz.

Diabetes is rapidly becoming an epidemic — especially among rural, impoverished and underserved populations — and Southern Arizona exemplifies this national problem. Gwen Gallegos has dedicated her life to addressing this issue.

As a Family Nurse Practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator, Gwen recognized a gap in the care and support of pregnant women, adolescents and adults diagnosed with diabetes. For the past 22 years, she has run a Diabetes Support Group for youth and their families in Nogales, a rural community whose residents are primarily Mexican, with high unemployment, low levels of education, and little or no healthcare. Nogales is a federally designated Health Profession Shortage Area and a Medically Underserved Area. Gwen is the primary source of support for these young people and their parents, providing culturally sensitive education and clinical expertise to help them manage their diabetes successfully.

Through her wisdom, creativity and dedication, Gwen has implanted innovative and resource-effective strategies to enable Carondelet Health Network to live its Mission and Values. One example is a teleschool program she initiated with the school district on the Tohono O’odham reservation. More than 100 middle school children participate in a year long program to learn about diabetes, exercise and nutrition. They, in turn, share their knowledge with younger elementary school children. The popular program is being expanded to three additional schools in the area.

Gwen’s commitment to the health of her community also manifests itself in her mentoring of other health professionals. She works with interdisciplinary teams of health professional students in Nogales, attending weekly case management meetings and increasing their knowledge of diabetes management. Gwen has also presented at both state and national conferences, sharing her firsthand experiences with behavioral health issues and diabetes management. She also recently presented at the National Homeless Convention, addressing the issues of diabetes and behavioral health in that vulnerable population.

Gwen’s work is a testament to Ascension Health’s enduring Mission to provide spiritually centered, holistic care which sustains and improves the health of individuals and communities, especially those most in need. Through her work in the Arizona desert, she is living our Mission and Values and inspiring others to do the same.

Program Award Recipient
Lourdes Jail Services
Lourdes Health Network, Pasco, Wash.

The criminal justice system is overcrowded and underfunded, so it is easy to see how inmates are often forgotten and underserved. This is especially true for the growing numbers of mentally ill inmates, who are often the most vulnerable and complex to serve.

In 2005, Lourdes Counseling Center was asked by Washington state officials to assist inmates who were suffering from mental illness. These men and women were often left to languish in their jail cells without medication or treatment. The Lourdes Jail Team, consisting of three mental health counselors, began working with the Office of Public Defense, Crisis Response Unit and other community mental health providers to ensure proper care and treatment are available to these patients in jail and after release.

Each week the team works within the walls of the county jails, which hold more than 1,000 inmates. Many of their patients have suffered homelessness and turned to substance abuse and violence, resulting in their incarceration. The Lourdes Team overcomes any fears and stigma of working with this poor and vulnerable population, helping to break down barriers and bring together local resources that contribute to better treatment of patients and a safer community.

  • The Jail team developed a system to deal with psychiatric emergencies that has enabled inmates experiencing these crises to be transferred to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. This has proven to be more humane for the individual and safer for the community.
  • The team also works with prosecutors and defense attorneys to promote the best possible outcome for both the individual and the community. This may include helping patients negotiate shorter or alternative sentencing, such as inpatient mental health treatment programs, instead of jail sentences.
  • Lourdes Jail Services staff are also involved with advocating for state legislation that would enable more effective forensic evaluations and improved wait times, and address competency issues. They have led efforts to maintain a tracking system to monitor patents awaiting evaluations or who have been determined incompetent to stand trial. And they have become the point of contact for addressing public and patient safety in preparation for release of inmates who are deemed incompetent.

The local community looks to Lourdes Jail Services as a leader in creating restorative programs. Through its dedication and creativity, the team has positively influenced the criminal justice process, raised awareness of the needs of this underserved population, and demonstrated an extraordinary and unique way to live our Mission and Values.

Organizational Component Award Recipient
Pediatric Feeding Program
St. Mary’s Medical Center, Evansville, Ind.

The Pediatric Feeding Program at St. Mary’s Center for Children began as a treatment model for children with complex feeding disorders. It has quickly evolved into an integrated, person-centered care approach that involves care teams from throughout the Health Ministry.

Technological advances have improved the survival rate of children with prematurity as well as neurological and other disorders. But this has also increased the need for innovative treatment models to replace isolated approaches, such as feeding tubes or psychologically based treatments, which are too often ineffective, leaving families frustrated and stressed. Without successful intervention, persistent feeding disorders can result in poor growth, mealtime struggles, limited options for childcare and socialization, and life long use of a feeding tube for nutrition. St. Mary’s responded to this need, creating a comprehensive treatment program that seeks to enable children to be successful eating by mouth, and empowers families to continue the progress in feeding skills once children return home.

Acting as an integrated group, physicians, behavioral psychologists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, feeding technicians, nutritionists, nurses, family advocates and others all work in harmony to provide special attention to young patients who are vulnerable and underserved. Team members receive extensive training in medical, therapeutic and behavioral approaches, and share ownership of patient treatment and outcomes.

The Feeding Program further motivates others in the Health Ministry to provide coordinated, holistic care. Surgeons have assisted with gastrostomy tube care. The Medical Equipment Department has provided portable pediatric pumps for children on feeding tubes to promote mobility in meeting developmental milestones. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit discharge recommendations include referrals to the Center for Children to prevent later development of more severe problems for these infants. The Feeding Team also assists with radiological procedures for their patients to assure better test results.

The Feeding Team and all of St. Mary’s staff are dedicated to extending spiritually centered, holistic care beyond the medical center and into the home, school, daycare and other settings. Therapists, nurses, teachers and others from the community go to the hospital to learn new treatment strategies that will benefit the child. The Feeding Team also does community outreach and teleconferencing to provide training and raise awareness of this model.

The Feeding Program has given new hope to many children with special chronic healthcare needs. As it demonstrates success with children who were previously considered untreatable, St. Mary’s inspires others to embrace and express its Mission and Values.

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