UW Health Celebrates Employee Community Service Award Winners

"Advancing health without compromise through service, scholarship, science and social responsibility." - UW Health Mission Statement


Madison, Wisconsin - The UW Health Community Service Awards were designed to honor staff members who go above and beyond by working to promote community health on the job, and on their own time as volunteers.


"We have the hardest-working and most-dedicated professionals one could imagine here at UW Health," said UW Health CEO Dr. Jeff Grossman, speaking at a ceremony to honor the 2015 award recipients. "Each and every day, we see how your compassion and care impact the health and well-being of our patients, their families and our community in a very meaningful way."


The five honorees accepted their awards at a ceremony on Oct. 27, along with a $1,000 donation to their organization to continue the important work being done to keep our community healthy.


Meet the 2015 Community Service Award recipients:


Carola Gaines, Outreach Program Liaison

African American Health Network of Dane County


Carola Gaines, middle, with Eva Vivian, President of the African-American Health Network of Dane County, and Jeff Grossman

Since 2005, Carola has been a devoted and active volunteer for the African American Health Network, promoting health education, healthy lifestyles, self-advocacy, empowerment and well-being among African Americans in Dane County. The network provides practical, yet powerful, information and tools to inspire, equip and energize people to improve the overall health and wellness of themselves and their families.


Carola is well-known for her work in the African American community and understands the importance of balancing tradition and culturally relevant health education. During this past year, she contributed more than 75 hours of service to this outstanding organization, and she serves as a key planning member for many of the network's projects and programs.


Recently, Carola and other members of the network implemented culturally-sensitive strategies to help African Americans prevent, detect and manage diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases. These innovative initiatives incorporate peer influence from community members to enhance learning of positive health behaviors for African-American women and their families.


Carola leads by example and action. She is a strong advocate for AIDS/HIV education and awareness in the African American community and led planning for the network's community education program in that area. Thanks to her insight and experience in working with young people, the program also addresses the importance of HPV vaccines and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.


Mary Landry, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Share the Health Free Gynecology Clinic, Co-Founder and President


Mary Landry, left, and Elizabeth Bolt, UW Health Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Human Resources OfficerShare the Health, founded by Mary Landry in 2014, provides free outpatient gynecologic specialty procedures for uninsured women in the Dane County area. The services Mary and her team of volunteers provide often save lives, from diagnosis of early endometrial cancer to prevention of dozens of cases of cervical or endometrial neoplasias.


As with all UW Health faculty physicians, Mary understands the critical importance of education and hands-on training in health care. Mary designed the clinic to include opportunities for education in women's health and public health. Medical students see patients, and OB/GYN residents participate in scheduling, clinic procedures and follow-up communication with patients and referring clinics. The clinic is also staffed with undergraduate students who are proficient in Spanish and can assist with registration and check-in.


In addition to providing patient care and serving as president, Mary also recruits volunteers, plans events and fundraising, speaks with the media, writes thank you notes and mentors student faculty. She's a motivational and strategic leader who keeps the volunteers engaged and focused on the change they're bringing to the community.


Joel Miller, DO, FACP

Church Health Services of Dodge County


From left: Bev Beal Loeck and Angie Olson from Church Health Services; Joel Miller; and Peter Newcomer, MD, UW Health Executive Vice President and Chief Medical OfficerJoel is an active volunteer with Church Health Services of Dodge County, a faith-based health care organization that provides medical, dental and mental health services for poor or uninsured citizens of Dodge County, and promotes a healthy lifestyle through education.


Since 2002, Joel has been a volunteer physician with Church Health Services, providing primary care for patients and families. In the last year, he gave more than 60 hours of his time to serve the health care needs of an often-overlooked population.


The service arm of UW Health's mission is to provide the best possible patient care experience and outcomes for all those who need services. Joel focuses on the entire family unit, not just the patient. He is always willing to go above and beyond for the patients and families Church Health Services serves. When not providing direct care, Joel also helps with things like completing forms for patients applying for prescription drug assistance.


Joel's medical expertise is not the only skill he uses in this volunteer role. For the past six years, he's tapped his leadership skills to serve as the organization's co-medical director, setting policies and procedures, and supporting the organization's nurse manager.


Joel says he volunteers because of his strong belief that all people deserve quality medical care.


Tina Nelson, Senior Department Assistant

Building a Safer Evansville (BASE)


Tina Nelson, middle, with Jennifer Braun of Building a Safer Evansville and Ronald Sliwinski, President of UW Hospitals and Chief of Clinical OperationsBuilding a Safer Evansville, or BASE, is dedicated to shifting youth culture and behavior through education and awareness about high-risk behaviors, including alcohol and drug abuse, drunk driving and bullying.


In 2012, Tina was inspired to volunteer after learning about the high rate of suicide in the Evansville area, and she's now involved with BASE many ways. As a parent representative, she connects the organization with others parents and youth in the Evansville community. Tina has also been involved in developing the "Reality Maze," an exercise for high school freshman that shows the dangerous outcomes of risky behaviors, such as underage drinking, drug use, unprotected sex and texting while driving.


Tina is often the first to volunteer whenever BASE needs staff for an informational booth at community events or school registrations. She was a crucial part of helping BASE start up a drug drop-off event. And she successfully lobbied for Evansville police to start using Narcan – a drug that can reduce heroin overdoses and save lives – making them one of the few communities in Wisconsin to do so.


Kevin Straka, Clinical Content Facilitator

Badger Childhood Cancer Network (BCCN)


Kevin Straka, left, with Robert Golden, MD, UW Hospitals and Clinics Authority board chair and dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health

Since 2005, Kevin has volunteered with Badger Childhood Cancer Network, or BCCN, an organization that educates, supports, serves and advocates for children with cancer and blood disorders, as well as their families, survivors of childhood cancer and the professionals who care for them.


Kevin uses his training in management and organization to help guide long-range planning and to grow the services BCCN provides. He almost single-handedly developed the organization's annual 5k/10k run and 2-mile awareness walk in 2006, and continues to oversee what has become the Superhero Run. The run, now in its ninth year, attracts upwards of 600 participants and is an important fundraiser for BCCN.


Many of the families BCCN serves travel two hours or more each way for tests, treatment and hospitalization. Families say on average they lose 30 percent or more of their income during the first year after their child has been diagnosed with cancer. And financial stress often grows for families of children with chronic disorders, such as sickle cell disease or indolent brain tumors. This, combined with increased medical and travel expenses, add to the stress and worry of families caring for a child with a life-threatening illness.


Kevin is tireless in his efforts to help improve the lives of the children and families BCCN supports during some of their darkest days. He can be counted upon for help whenever it is needed. While busy with his professional life and his multiple other volunteer commitments, Kevin always makes time to do what is needed in order to help critically ill young people.

Date Published: 11/02/2015

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