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Craig Hitchens receives 'Outstanding Young Leader' honor


Craig Hitchens, RN, MSN, House Supervisor, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, was named the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network’s 2015 ‘Outstanding Young Leader’ runner-up during ceremonies held November 11 at The Crowne Plaza, Springfield.

“ICAHN’s ‘Outstanding Young Leader’ award is granted to those role models, agents of change, and health innovators who not only shape policy but engage others in successful teamwork,” said Pat Schou, ICAHN Executive Director. “Craig is one of those people who shows great promise, and we are honored to give him this award.”

Mr. Hitchens joined St. Joseph Memorial Hospital as a newly graduated staff nurse on the Medical/Surgical floor. Over the course of the next year, he used the variability of a general medical floor to hone the skills he had learned while earning his BSN. When asked to cross-train to the SCU, he quickly accepted the challenge that came with an expanded patient population. From there, he was then given the opportunity to train in the Emergency Department and immediately recognized his calling.

When the opportunity presented to assume a leadership position within the newly formed Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) ED Shared Leadership Committee, Craig volunteered his time and energy to assure this new venture would be successful. Shortly after joining Shared Leadership, he was nominated by his peers to assume the role of Chair of this group of frontline nurses, ED management, and ED physicians.

“Under his tenure, this group has been instrumental in improving the working conditions for ED staff, making significant improvements to the EMR and addressing key safety and quality concerns within the three Emergency Departments across our system,” said Mark Yates, ED Manager. “The work of this committee has driven patient satisfaction efforts while striving to positively influence the patient experience. Throughout all of this, Craig has kept the committee focused on moving forward by chairing monthly meetings and maintaining ongoing communications with the membership. His leadership effectiveness skills were so obvious to the committee that when his term was up, he was unanimously reappointed to continue in the role.”

Due to his role as Chair, Mr. Hitchens also represents SJMH by serving on the SIH Leadership Council, where he interacts with the leadership of other committees to help determine and shape future direction for all of SIU.

Craig is pictured with Angie Charlet, ICAHN Director of Quality. Luke McDaniel, Quality Analyst, Fairfield Memorial Hospital, won the 2015 'Outstanding Young Leader' Award, and Lauren Carroll, RN, BSN, Manager, Physicians Specialty Clinic, Fayette County Hospital, joined Craig as a runner-up.