UW Health Honors 2014 Community Service Award Recipients
Madison, Wisconsin - A neurologist devoted to helping the uninsured and medically underserved, who volunteers his time and specialized expertise to ensure that those who suffer from chronic neurological conditions receive the personalized, continuous care they so desperately need.
A children’s hospital nurse who serves as board president for the Lussier Community Education Center and opens her home to raise thousands of dollars to make sure low income kids have access to programs that support learning, health and development.
A social services coordinator who devotes more than 100 hours each year to help the AIDS Network provide prevention, direct care and support services to vulnerable patients and families living with HIV/AIDS throughout southern Wisconsin.
Demonstrating an exceptional commitment to a wide range of non-profit organizations that promote community health, the 2014 recipients of UW Health's annual Community Service Awards were honored at an Oct. 20 reception at UW Hospital. Three UW Health employees were honored as award recipients, along with five additional "honor roll" nominees.
"The spirit of volunteerism and giving back among UW Health faculty and staff has always been very strong, and we are so proud to have this opportunity to formally recognize some of our most dedicated individuals for their time, commitment and devotion to helping others throughout our communities," said Juli Aulik, UW Health Community Relations director.
"You have chosen to stretch UW Health's mission, vision and core values well outside the walls of our organization," Aulik told the honorees gathered at the reception, along with their family members, friends and representatives from a variety of non-profit organizations the award recipients serve.
"Our goal is to really say 'thank you' by promoting not only the work you do, but also the causes you're so dedicated to," Aulik added.
The awards are accompanied by $500 donations to the organizations the three recipients serve. To be eligible for the awards or honor roll status, each individual must give a minimum of 50 volunteer hours in the past year to an organization that effectively addresses a community health priority, directly helps or benefits UW Health patients and families, or supports community health research.
"I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with all the people we're honoring today, who put their hearts and souls into their day jobs, and then go out into the community and do it all again," said Robert Golden, MD, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
2014 Community Service Award Recipients
Douglas Dulli, MD, Neurologist
Community Organization: Benevolent Specialty Providers Clinic (BSP)
Dulli has volunteered since 2011 for the Benevolent Specialty Providers Clinic, which provides free, specialty health care services for the uninsured and medically underserved, offering both consultation services as well as continuity of care for those with special medical needs – which, in Dulli's case as a neurologist volunteer, includes complex epilepsy and stroke patients.
Because many of Dulli's patients suffer from chronic neurological conditions, he often refers them to other specialty programs that provide additional ongoing support.
"Without this crucial step in the continuum of care, these patients might otherwise never receive the personalized, continuous care that they need and benefit from," Dean Golden explained.
Tricia Levenhagen, manager of the Benevolent Specialty Providers Clinic, describes Dulli as an "excellent mentor" who often goes to great lengths to explain neurological problems to students and staff.
"It is Dr. Dulli's warm, happy spirit, concern for others and his professionalism that make him an outstanding volunteer," Levenhagen said.
And when it comes to education and mentoring, "In Doug's case, you can take the doctor out of the school, but you can't take the school out of the doctor," Golden says. "Whenever he can, Doug includes a medical student with him in his service at BSP, and always, always takes advantage of 'teachable moments' in explaining neurological principles to both the staff and his students."
Dulli said his experience volunteering with the clinic has been very rewarding, and he's been able to provide his patients with first-rate care due to the clinic's outstanding nursing and caregiver support, as well as the resources provided to the clinic by Madison's hospitals.
"I believe that the ability to practice medicine is a gift, and that this gift is enhanced when it is used in community volunteering," Dulli says. "It is enhanced further still when done with medical and allied health students, since this adds a teaching and leadership role that promulgates this activity as a desirable goal for young caregivers."
Julia Hunter, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Community Organization: Lussier Community Education Center
Hunter joined UW Health in 2010 as the clinical nurse specialist for the American Family Children's Hospital pediatric clinics. In her nursing work, Hunter spends each day ensuring the highest quality of patient care. As a board member since 2008 for Lussier Community Education Center and now board president, Hunter also works to provide high quality care, in the form of services for the community.
"The LCEC is known for its deep roots in activism and social justice, its food pantry and its children's programming," Hunter says. "The LCEC is a bustling and vibrant center where hundreds of people a week participate in programs or come looking for a friendly face, a telephone, a computer, a contact, a meal, a place to live or even a job."
Lussier Community Education Center Executive Director Paul Terranova describes Hunter as a dedicated volunteer who leads by doing.
"Julie is not someone to do anything halfway," Terranova said. "When the task at hand is inspiring others to give to support the children and families who use the center, she opens her home. More than once she invited dozens of people to her home, treated them to delicious food and live music, and shared her passion for the work of the center, raising thousands of dollars."
When Hunter sees a need, she responds with determination, Terranova says. While at a recent LCEC community dinner, she saw a group of girls doing an impromptu gymnastics routine and was struck with the thought that these girls deserved the same access to gymnastics that her own children and neighbors have.
"She picked up the phone and called people she knew at MadTown Twisters," Terranova said. "Within weeks, we had a plan for girls in our Elementary Summer Camp to receive free gymnastics classes."
"That's the caliber of the person we're talking about here," added Beth Houlahan, UW Hospital and Clinics Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, also lauding the quality of Hunter's nursing work.
Mary Vasquez, MSSW, Social Services Coordinator
Community Organization: AIDS Network
Vasquez volunteers more than 100 hours a year with the AIDS Network, the lone comprehensive HIV/AIDS-specific organization in the area providing prevention, direct care and support services to vulnerable patients and their families living with HIV/AIDS in southern Wisconsin.
AIDS Network also provides dental care, case management, legal advocacy, food pantry, benefits counseling, mental health counseling and other services.
"These many unduplicated and critical services, which significantly impact UW Health patients, have evolved through the years and Mary Vasquez has played, and continues to play, a key role in this success," says AIDS Network Executive Director Daniel Guinn.
As a social worker at the Wingra Family Medical Center, Vasquez brings significant knowledge and skills to the AIDS Network, where she has volunteered since 2006 and currently serves as board president.
"She understands the many barriers to proper health care, such as poverty, mental health, transportation, substance abuse and homelessness," Guinn says. "Mary also has a great knowledge of health care resources and helps so many people in the community, including AIDS Network clients and patients, connect with appropriate medical care."
Vasquez's great intentions, professional background, leadership and compassion are also beneficial when dealing with challenging client and patient issues, Guinn adds.
"Both UW Health and AIDS Network are very fortunate to benefit from Mary's skills and attention," Guinn said. "Our mutual patients, of course, benefit from Mary's adeptness and empathy the most."
Vasquez describes the experience of volunteering with the AIDS Network as "the feeling that I gained another family."
"That sense of an accepting family and community is what you get when you sign up to volunteer for AIDS Network," Vasquez says. "In addition, AIDS Network treats those that access their services like family. This is why I along with so many others dedicate their free time to this organization."
While the AIDS Network doesn't provide direct physician services, the organization's daily work makes critical services available to those who need it most, Vasquez says.
As Vasquez describes: "An example of this is the person walking in requesting an HIV test, testing positive, meeting with a case manager who connects them with an infectious disease physician, assists them with signing up for health care insurance so they can receive medical care without the fear of exorbitant bills, introduces them to a support group to meet other people who are living healthy lives with HIV/AIDS, and gives them the support they need after learning about their new diagnosis."
"Simply put," Vasquez says, "just as UW Health does, AIDS Network saves lives."
2014 Community Service Honor Roll Nominees
James Giesen, MD, UW Health Internal Medicine Physician
- Community Organization: Community Connections Free Clinic | Like CCFC on Facebook
- Mission: To provide basic health care for those who cannot afford or access medical services in Iowa County and surrounding areas.
Brenda Ray, UW Medical Foundation Patient Financial Services Representative
- Community Organization: Madison Area Down Syndrome Society (MADSS) | Like MADSS on Facebook
- Mission: To provide support to individuals with Down syndrome and their families while advancing awareness, respect and opportunity.
Craig Robida, UW Carbone Cancer Center External Relations Program Manager
- Community Organization: Mikayla’s Grace | Like Mikayla’s Grace on Facebook
- Mission: To support families with a baby in the NICU (neonatal ICU) and those who experience the death of an infant at hospitals in Wisconsin by providing NICU care packages and angel memory boxes that offer both practical and emotional support for the parents.
Kimberly Schuetz, RN, UW Hospital and Clinics Nurse Clinician
- Community Organization: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Wisconsin Chapter | Like LLS – Wisconsin Chapter on Facebook
- Mission: To cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Christine Wittleder, UW Hospital and Clinics Compensation Analyst
- Community Organization: Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C) | Like 4-C on Facebook
- Mission: To ensure that every child has access to high quality early care and education through integrated support and expertise.
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Date Published: 11/03/2014