The Ascension Health “Living the Mission and Values Awards” was 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 2008 Award Winners, click on their names:
Maria Del Rio Hoover, MD, St. Mary's Medical Center, Evansville, IN - Individual Award Recipient
Saint Thomas Health Services' Dispensary of Hope, Saint Thomas Health Services, Nashville, TN - Program Award Recipient
Palliative Care Program, Seton Health, Troy, NY - 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
It is an honor to be nominated for the award. Learn more about the nominees and their extraordinary contribution to the Health Ministries of Ascension Health.
When people in Southwestern Indiana talk about Dr. Maria Del Rio Hoover, they use words like,“a fierce advocate for families,” a “force of nature,” a “brilliant, caring physician,” and “a huge asset to the community.” The description that is probably most appropriate, however, is when she is frequently referred to as the one “who saved my baby.”
A lead physician in St. Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) since 1985, Dr. Del Rio Hoover has been instrumental in improving survival rates for tiny “preemies” throughout the Evansville region. Under her leadership, the NICU has become a Level III unit and one of the most advanced and successful NICUs in the state.
But it is her efforts on behalf of all children and families across the state that has made her so renowned. Consider…
- She personally researched community needs related to families of children with ongoing and debilitating conditions, identifying the need for more referral information for doctors and parents, specialized feeding disorder therapies, and expanded services for children diagnosed with autism. She then led the effort to develop and fund the Center for Children at St. Mary’s that effectively addresses each of these needs.
- She convinced local business leaders of the need to create a Ronald McDonald House in Evansville to serve families who bring their children to the hospital from distant places.
- She has led the way in developing a Physician Directed Quality initiative designed to train and certify lab and nursing staff in painless procedures for drawing blood and administering injections to frightened children.
- She also has initiated hospital-wide development of a Children’s Bill of Rights to guarantee that every child is treated with respect, integrity, compassion, love and understanding.
Within both the hospital and the community at large, Dr. Del Rio Hoover is an inspiration and a beloved friend to children and their families. She creates an atmosphere of enthusiasm for the dual pursuit of quality and hope and sees well beyond the incubators in her NICU to a future in which her patients’ contributions to the quality of life and spiritual strength of the community are to be treasured and protected.
Program Award Recipient
Saint Thomas Health Services’ Dispensary of Hope
Saint Thomas Health Services
More than 800,000 people in Tennessee currently have no health insurance. Many of them, especially those at the lower end of the economic spectrum, too often find they must choose between spending their limited resources on food and rent or the medications they may desperately need. “There’s no choice,” decried one such Tennessean.“You have to live. You have to eat. Without this place, I’d have to do without my medicine. You die without your medicine.”
“This place” is Saint Thomas Health Services’ Dispensary of Hope, a model program that collects and redistributes free pharmaceutical samples to those who would otherwise go without their needed medications. Started in 2004 by Dr. Bruce Wolf, Dispensary of Hope today fills more than 100,000 prescriptions annually, valued between $20 and $30 million.
“The Dispensary of Hope… is creative, it is accessible and it is not intimidating,” says Jim Shulman, Deputy Commissioner of Health for the state of Tennessee.“It increases the state’s ability to reach people it isn’t reaching. It is important to the state and to the safety net.”
It is estimated that as much as $16 million worth of drug samples go to waste each year. Dr. Wolf ’s idea was to approach his colleagues to donate and repackage the samples through a centralized distribution center and a mail-order pharmacy. The Dispensary now serves the entire state, with more than 500 vital medications donated by a network of 300+ physicians and clinics.
In a remarkable example of the Ascension Health Values of Wisdom and Creativity, the Dispensary has contacted pharmaceutical manufacturers to create a national network of community partnerships. These partnerships are enabling the establishment of a scalable model of participation that will allow hospitals of all sizes to develop their own Dispensaries to serve more of those who are poor and reduce hospitalization rates. New Dispensaries already have been started in Knoxville and Johnson City, Tenn., and in New Orleans, La.
The Dispensaries offer hope to individuals and communities alike. For individuals, it is a lifeline and an answer for those who have to choose between food and medicine. For communities, estimates show that for every dollar contributed to a prescription program, $25 is returned to the community. Thus, the Dispensary of Hope is an innovative and effective solution to the lack of access to pharmaceutical coverage for those who need it most.
When Seton Health began its Palliative Care Program in November 2004, it quickly discovered that having patients return for outpatient palliative care was not realistic. There simply were too many barriers to make that approach workable. Instead, the team changed focus and the program became home-based, focusing on preventing crises and providing care where patients are most comfortable.
The results underscore the wisdom of that decision. The program works with patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which typically have among the highest readmittance rates after discharge. The Palliative Care Program, however, has resulted in a significant reduction and savings in this patient cohort. In Calendar Year 2007, the length-of-stay for palliative care CHF patents was 3.19 days, compared to 5.56 days for other CHF patients. The 30-day readmission rate was 1.36 percent, compared to 17.62 percent for other CHF patients. The 60-day readmission rate was 2.04 percent, compared to 8.75 percent.
Statistics aside, the program also has succeeded in advancing the community’s perception of Seton as an organization that doesn’t just heal the sick, but truly cares for body, mind and spirit. Care is individualized, with quality of life the primary objective. A nurse practitioner and chaplain conduct the home visits, working with patients and families not only to discuss medical issues, but also to provide spiritual support for these difficult decisions.As one family member said,“I can’t tell you how much your program meant to me and my mother. The caring, nursing, faith and encouragement far exceeded any care my mother was previously given.”
Nurses have been the primary advocates for the Palliative Care Program, but their enthusiasm is shared by physicians and other clinicians. All have seen the improved quality of life patients receive through Palliative Care, and they actively participate in referrals and collaborations to improve the delivery of care. The nearby Sage Graduate School also views the program as a model for Palliative Care, and encourages nurse practitioners and masters’ students to receive clinical training to experience firsthand how complex it is to work with a patient and family as they cope with these types
The Palliative Care Program is an exceptional expression of Ascension Health's Mission and Values in serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.