ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 24, 2014) – Mission Health and Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) hosted the 14th Annual Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award Program. Each year, Mission partners with MAHEC to recognize employees for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. This year, there were three winners; two from Mission Health, which for the first time extended this to all its members, and one from MAHEC.
“Mission Health is devoted to promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment to our patients and visitors, as well as among our employees,” said Jill Hoggard-Green, PhD, RN, Chief Operating Officer of Mission Health and President, Mission Hospital and Mission Medical Associates. “Our goal is to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities across the organization, the communities we serve throughout Western North Carolina, and beyond.”
The ceremony began and closed with the Spirit of MLK Choir, made up of Mission Health and MAHEC members. It was followed by a keynote address delivered by David R. Williams, PhD, the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and Professor of African American Studies and of Sociology at Harvard University. Williams challenged health care providers to join forces with organizations in their areas to combat health disparities, which he provided empirical data that shows are most closely associated with socioeconomic status.
Hoggard-Green presented the first Mission Health award to Leslie Council, Education Coordinator with Mission Medical Associates, Asheville Cardiology Associates. Bob Bednarek, President of Transylvania Regional Hospital (TRH) in Brevard presented Mission Health's second award to Robert Anderson, Manager of the Keeping Older Adults Living Abundantly (KOALA) program at Transylvania Regional Hospital. Jeffrey E. Heck. MD, President and CEO, MAHEC presented an award to Kiran Sigmon, MD, an OB/GYN physician with MAHEC.
“Leslie exemplifies the legacy of Dr. King in her tireless efforts to build bridges to eliminate disparity and racial boundaries,” said Hoggard-Green about Council. “She serves on many committees and is involved in several community events that reach the underserved in Western North Carolina. Employees like Leslie are instrumental in helping us achieve our goal.”
"I am so honored to even have been nominated. It means a lot to even be in a system that cares enough to want to carry out this work," said Council. "I see Mission as being the leader in working with local non-profits and local organizations that are already in this community to make it better and healthier. "
“We are very proud of Robert,” said Bednarek of Anderson. “He exemplifies the level of compassion and caring that we hope all of our caregivers at TRH strive for each day. Whether he’s engaged with a patient, a family member, a coworker or a community member, Robert treats everyone with the utmost respect and dignity. He sees the inherent good in others and makes them feel valued for who they are.”
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by my peers,” said Anderson. Transylvania Regional Hospital has supported me and allows me touch people’s lives, and I believe that’s why I’m here on this planet.”
“The MLK annual awards ceremony is one of the most important events of the year. It reminds us that health disparities continue to exist and it is our responsibility to address them with passion and commitment,” said Dr. Heck. ““Celebrating success stories such as Dr. Sigmon’s Centering Pregnancy efforts reminds us that we can make a difference through innovative, high-quality programs.”
"I really feel grateful for everybody like [keynote speaker David R. Williams] and the leaders above me who were willing to say 'yes' when I had an idea of a way and a microcosm to change just a part of the way we are delivering health care," said Dr. Sigmon. "And, now the patients are the ones telling the stories of how their lives are being changed.”
About Mission Health
Mission Health, based in Asheville, N.C., is the state’s sixth-largest health system and the region’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health was recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems in 2012 and 2013 by Thomson Reuters and Truven Health Analytics, respectively. Mission Health is one of only two medium-sized health systems to receive this recognition in 2012 and 2013, and the only health system in North Carolina to achieve that distinction.
Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates five hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children’s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women’s Health. Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system’s flagship hospital and is licensed for 730 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. With approximately 9,500 employees and 700 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, visitwww.mission-health.org.