The 2018 Forum - Courage Award
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2018 TRUST Courage Awards

We are pleased to present the 20 recipients of the TRUST 2018 Courageous Women in Health Care Awards. Each has found the courage within to tackle risk and vulnerability with grit and determination. At the TRUST, we believe strongly in supporting women leaders in health care to move through fear to find their courage to boldly transform the industry. Scroll down to read summaries of why each was chosen to receive a Courage Award; we are adding summaries as they are published in the TRUST's newsletter.

2018 TRUST Courage Award Recipients

Please note that additional summaries will be added through the coming months.

Khadija Ali
President & CEO, Global Language Connections

Learn more about Khadija...

Khadija Ali is President and CEO at Global Language Connections. She grew up in a refugee camp, built a successful business without a business degree, survived a brain aneurysm as a young mother, and rebuilt her life after a contentious divorce. Her nominator wrote, "Her ability to navigate these with a smile on her face, the knowledge that good things will happen when things are done the right way, and a deep faith gives her the courage to take a stand even when the risks are high. Championing the interpreter voice to pause [Minnesota Senate] Bill 2177, despite the possibility of losing her livelihood, demonstrates her courage to stand up for the greater good. Her skills to bring people to the table to develop a solution for everyone has created her reputation as a smart, trusted and valuable community and business leader."

At the risk of alienating clients for her start-up company, Khadija took a courageous stand to defend the rights of health care interpreters. Because of the way feedback about proposed legislation was gathered, this key stakeholder group was at risk of being left out of discussion about the bill. Had their voices not been heard, it is likely that health equity and quality health outcomes would have been reduced for immigrants with Limited English Proficiency — Minnesotans who are among our most vulnerable and highest-need health consumers.

Her nominator summed up the positive outcomes that Khadija helped to bring about, "Ensuring all stakeholders' voices are included in the formation of health care interpreter standards in Minnesota is a huge win. During this last round, all stakeholders were able to hear more of the other sides' perspectives. This will facilitate future efforts to find the right standards to ensure proper stewardship of the dollars used, support of interpreters providing the services and care for the patients and providers receiving the service. Ultimately the overall health care of the state will improve and in time costs can be reduced too, as LEP members of our community better understand the health care available to them and are able to increase their participation in their own care."

Jane Anderson, DNP, ANP-C, FNP-C, RN
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Learn more about Jane...

Jane Anderson, DNP, ANP-C, FNP-C, RN, is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the director of the M Health Nurse Practitioners Clinic in Minneapolis. Over a 40-year career as a nurse, Dr. Anderson has consistently exemplified the personal characteristics of a true trailblazer: strength, courage, perseverance and resilience in the face of uncertainty.

Jane Anderson has been a pioneer in advancing the role of nurse practitioners (NPs). In 1991, she was the first nurse practitioner employed by Fairview Health Services and created an NP practice program within the health system. In 1997, in response to an acute shortage of primary care in rural Minnesota, she was the sole provider in a remote area of the state. In 2011, Dr. Anderson joined the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and pioneered development of the first nurse-run clinic in Minneapolis after enactment of the 2014 law providing independent practice for APRNs in Minnesota.

Jane has been recognized nationally as the only nurse practitioner on National Faculty for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. This initiative is designed to support more than 140,000 clinician practices over the next four years in sharing, adopting and further developing best practices and comprehensive quality improvement strategies. Her accumulated accomplishments can be described as having the courage to stay true to her values and beliefs even in the face of ongoing adversity. Advancing the role of NPs and creating nurse-run clinics in an environment historically dominated by Medicine is disruptive and creates resistance from a host of stakeholders. These include physicians and payers, as well the bureaucracy inherent in any large, complex university.

Her nominator summed up the positive outcomes that Khadija helped to bring about, "Ensuring all stakeholders' voices are included in the formation of health care interpreter standards in Minnesota is a huge win. During this last round, all stakeholders were able to hear more of the other sides' perspectives. This will facilitate future efforts to find the right standards to ensure proper stewardship of the dollars used, support of interpreters providing the services and care for the patients and providers receiving the service. Ultimately the overall health care of the state will improve and in time costs can be reduced too, as LEP members of our community better understand the health care available to them and are able to increase their participation in their own care."

Since M Health Nurse Practitioners Clinic was created in April 2015, annual patient visits have more than doubled and continue to grow. Four additional satellite primary care clinics have been established and additional clinics are planned for 2018. Patient satisfaction scores are in the 95th percentile. Two research grants have been awarded to the clinic to create new models of care: An integrated primary care/mental health model and a primary care/dental therapist model. The M Health Nurse Practitioners Clinic is now fully integrated into the Fairview Health Services/M Health System, due in large part to Jane Anderson's courage and perseverance.

Julie Burton
Founder & CEO, ModernWell

Learn more about Julie...

Julie Burton is a wellness innovator and woman warrior who had the bravery to share her own personal battles through freelance writing. She earned her advanced degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and used her skills to write about parenting, relationships, the aging process, and selfcare. Known as the founder of ModernWell, co-founder of the Twin Cities Writing Studio, and author of The Self-Care Solution, Julie uses her personal experiences to champion women that were seeking community support but were afraid to speak out. Her nominator wrote, “Julie demonstrated courage by allowing herself to be vulnerable and encouraging others to do the same. By sharing her own story about the struggles of battling an eating disorder as teen and the lifelong healing process that follows, the stresses of marriage and motherhood, and living with anxiety and depression she validates and normalizes the idea that everyone of us has a story and is fighting some kind of battle.”

Julie’s book, The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must Have Guide to Health and Well-Being, was published in May 2016. The book offers intuitive answers to difficult questions about how mothers take care of themselves, their relationships, and their jobs while raising children and how they don’t. She also teaches creative writing to teenagers and co-founded the Twin Cities Writing Studio, which provides local woman a space to work, write, and take time to care for themselves physically and mentally. But most recently, Julie created ModernWell, a women’s centered facility that balances independency and well-being in a work-life community. ModernWell offers an oasis to woman that are seeking time to focus on the things most important to them. Whether it be geared towards work, wellness, enrichment, or making new friends, it is a place where women can feel a part of a community.

Julie also actively volunteers at the Jewish Family & Children’s Service and National Council of Jewish Women. In 2017, she was honored by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Pearl Society and received the Voice Inspiration Award. She was recognized as a “pioneer in thought, action, and leadership, and someone who influences the world and promotes positive values for women and the community.”

Julie has been a strong influence in the lives she has impacted over the years. Her nominator concludes, “Julie helped women across the globe feel legitimate and comfortable in the conflicts they faced while trying to maintain their sense of self worth while caring for their families. The women in her writing studios have published books, created businesses, and formed lasting friendships. Her students have solidified their love of expressing themselves through writing.” One of Julie’s students writes, “When I signed up for Creative Writing, I didn’t know I’d be joining my favorite Jewish learning class of all time. The teacher turned out to be a significant role model in my life and I can’t thank her enough.”

Sara Criger
Senior Vice President, North Region and President, Mercy Hospital, Allina Health

Learn more about Sara...

Sara Criger is an inspirational leader whose vision has led the North Region of Allina Health toward a new outlook on health care. As the Senior Vice President of Operations for the North Region of Allina Health as well as the President of Mercy Hospital, Sara saw an opportunity to advance the care and services given to the community. Her beliefs on leaning into health care reform and being a part of it versus resisting it, has been a monumental influence on patient care.

Sara’s vision was the beginning of a long process within the Allina Health community. As a leader, she pulled together four Allina Health hospitals (Mercy, Unity, Cambridge and Buffalo) for a strategic planning session. At this retreat, Sara encouraged others to think outside of the box. As she fought for her region, financial challenges were spanning multiple years out with a decline in bottom line and patient volume. Many Allina Health employees believed the easiest solution would be to close Unity Hospital in Fridley, as the volume of patients was not sufficient to support the resources needed. However, Sara had other plans. Her vision meant obtaining buy-in support from medical staff, staff engagement, support of the community, the cities of Fridley and Coon Rapids, as well as the hospital district.

Sara cultivated a the ideal of one hospital with two campuses offering complementary services. This idea would overall minimize duplication, optimize available beds and resources from both hospitals, and create purpose and value to the community. The investment required over $100 million and the level of change needed was significant. From construction to financial disruption, Sara pushed forward — reassuring those around her that they were moving in the right direction, they just needed to stay on course. She worked through staffing challenges, operational challenges, and physicians opting to move and take their services elsewhere beyond her control. But through her passion, Sara’s vision turned into milestones for Allina Health.

In January 2017, one hospital with two campuses was legally created. Together they had a common medical record and common medical/administrative staff. As a strong supporter of mental health awareness, Sara was passionate about improving the care of mental health patients. This also led to the creation a new state-of-the-art mental health unit at Unity Hospital. The program and facilities were recognized by the Joint Commission as best practice in the country in July 2017. Mercy hospital also received a newly renovated and expanded ICU unit, an ortho/spine unit, new operating rooms, new entrances and parking ramps, as well as a new cafeteria and kitchen. On top of the physical changes, employee engagement scores increased by 11% from 2016 to 2017. Her nominator writes, “She is wise to building strong relationships and values the knowledge of change. She respects culture and recognizes the hard work is takes to create change. She appreciates and celebrates success.”

Sara’s tenacity and determination through the timely process has changed the future of Allina Health and the communities it serves. The new business model has already resulted in a decrease of patients who leave without being seen from over 5% to 1% in the emergency departments. As a whole, Allina Health is able to offer better programs, better access, and a higher level of patient care closer to home. This means patients who were once turned down due to lack of programs or beds are now able to be cared for. In conclusion Sara states, “The culture at Mercy Hospital is one of always pushing to be the best. Not from a competitive perspective, but for the patients who come to us for care. It’s 'all hands on deck' culture. The focus is on what do we need to do to provide the best care for this patient, and have the patient believe they are the primary focus.”

Jill Davies
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, GeneMatters

Learn more about Jill...

Jill Davies, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of GeneMatters, has forever changed access to genetics counseling by delivering services through a scalable, telehealth service. A well-known leader in genetic counseling, Jill could see that patients in need of genetic counseling for cancer, pregnancy, and more were facing long wait times or not getting access at all. With her passion for serving patients, she knew there had to be a better way. She conceived of a business model for providing genetic counseling via telehealth, thereby providing access for patients and families where and when they needed it most.

The pathway to realization of her vision was not a smooth one. She initially tried to develop this delivery option through her employer, but they decided to change focus and pulled their support. Through intensive networking she found an interested venture capital group but it took two attempts, six-months apart, before they were willing to sign on as backers. To make this new delivery option a reality, Jill had to operate outside her comfort zone. She moved from Toronto to Minneapolis, leaving her family and secure job behind to build a team and lead the technology-development effort necessary to support her vision.

GeneMatters is now a thriving organization operating from Minneapolis. Jill has her leadership team in place, a group of highly skilled genetic counselors, and a business model combining service, expertise and technology for a unique offering in healthcare. With numerous contracts in place and in development with hospitals, health networks and genetic labs, Jill’s vision is changing the landscape of healthcare because of her passion for genetic counseling and for the patient.

Lee Jones
President and CEO, Rebiotix Inc.

Learn more about Lee...

Clostridium difficile (C diff) infection is the number-one health care-acquired infection in the nation. It is a debilitating and recurring gastrointestinal disease; traditional antibiotic therapy cannot prevent reoccurrence. In 2011 Lee Jones, who had a family member with C diff, learned of a seldom-used, last-resort medical therapy that could possibly stop the disease progression. It involved the infusion of fecal material from a healthy donor into the intestines of a C diff patient. Lee decided to make this therapy more accessible by using human feces as the basis for a medical product, something that had never been attempted before.

There was no precedent at the FDA for approving a therapy like this one; no one knew how to determine what was in fecal material, what microbes would be beneficial or even how many would make an adequate dose. No one even knew how to determine what was alive and what was dead in the material. Despite having never developed a biologic therapy and never starting a company from the ground up, Lee formed Rebiotix in 2011. Lee addressed each challenge that faced the company by enlisting the talents of other people who had the expertise she did not and directing their efforts forward. She brought on two partners, each having different skill sets. Together, they raised $5 million to get started. That funding allowed the company to meet many goals, including inventing test methods to quantify the number of live microbes in the raw material, which led to the development of the manufacturing process. This development led to the first standardized stabilized microbiota product to go through the FDA process.

Over the past six years, Minnesota-based Rebiotix has become the leading microbiome company. It is the only company to have successfully completed three clinical trials, and the first to do a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial of a microbiota-based drug. In clinical trials, C diff was reduced by 55%, demonstrating a significant clinical benefit. The product is now in a Phase 3 trial. It is expected that it will be the first commercially available therapeutic microbiome. The company has raised nearly $40 million from angel investors and has grown to about 40 employees. Lee has been recognized around the world as a thought leader in this space and is regularly invited to speak at conferences.


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