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ICAHN names 'Outstanding Young Leaders and Rising Stars'


Sara Wells, Kirby Medical Group Clinic Director for Kirby Medical Center, and Emmy Combs, Patient Access Manager for Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, were named the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network’s 2016 ‘Outstanding Young Leaders’ during ceremonies held November 9th at the Crowne Plaza, Springfield.

“ICAHN’s ‘Outstanding Young Leader and Rising Star’ awards are 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. “Sara and Emmy were so exceptional we couldn’t select just one winner this year. They show great promise, as do all our ‘Rising Stars,’ and we are honored to bestow all these awards.”

Sara Wells stepped into the clinic director role in the midst of accommodating new providers and staff members, EMR updates, Accountable Care Organization transmissions, quality measures, and clinic education surrounding Patient Centered Medical Home. At this time, planning was also underway for construction of an additional rural health clinic for the Monticello-based hospital.

“She made it a priority to educate herself on rural health clinics, worked toward certification, and successfully completed a rural health clinic survey with the Illinois Department of Public Health while also studying for, and earning, her second Master’s degree in Business Administration and raising a family,” said Steve Tenhouse, CEO, Kirby Medical Center. “She has been a terrific addition to Kirby’s leadership team by making meaningful contributions on a regular basis to our events, strategic planning discussions, and by being a reliable representative of this organization in general. She is a forward thinker, a self-starter, and is not only very positive but has been blessed with tremendous critical thinking skills. Patients and fellow staff at Kirby believe her heart for nursing and the community’s health outcomes are what directs her leadership in all the areas in which she’s involved.”

Sara opened “Quick Care,” expanded its Saturday and evening hours, and is currently in the process of building and opening another rural health clinic.

Emmy Combs began her career at Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center as a Patient Services Representative in August, 2012. At that time, Hoopeston Regional Health Center was preparing to officially merge with Carle Foundation Hospital, and a more formalized leadership structure was being discussed for Hoopeston’s frontline staff.

“Administration at the hospital immediately recognized Emmy’s innate leadership abilities, her eagerness to further her education, and her willingness to accept more responsibility. Within four months, Emmy was promoted to Lead Patient Services Rep and over the next two years, she was named East Region Patient Access Manager,” said Kim Nelson-Galloway, Meaningful Use Coordinator for Carle Hoopeston RHC. “Emmy has implemented multiple projects throughout this region that have a direct impact on the quality of care provided to patients.”

Carle Hoopeston’s East Region includes the hospital and six ambulatory clinics over a 75-mile radius. Emmy led a performance improvement team in this region and created a process and policy to ensure important notification letters were signed and scanned into the Electronic Medical Record in a timely manner. She also addressed Advanced Directives, resulting in all hospital and ambulatory clinic PSRs offering Advance Directive packets to all of CHRHC’s patients; and she worked on multiple projects in conjunction with the hospitals’ clinical teams to develop a process addressing a staff member’s exposure to blood and body fluids. This latter process helped create the algorithm ensuring consistency of the registration process for the employees as well as proper follow-up care.

“Emmy’s incredible success in motivating her staff earned her an invitation to be one of 59 leaders invited to a ‘Breakfast of Champions,’ bringing leaders of the Carle organization together with highly engaged staff to share ideas and create best practices,” said Nelson-Galloway. “Emmy’s display of consistent leadership abilities and how much she cares for her staff shines through the results of the most recent employee engagement survey, showing an engagement score of 92 percent in Emmy’s areas of responsibility. She is truly deserving of this ‘Outstanding Young Leader’ honor.”

Those receiving honorable mention in the “Rising Star” designation include Kayleigh Bondurant of Hillsboro Area Hospital; Susan Chenoweth of Illini Community Hospital; Jessica Delost of Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services; Rachael Prather of Ferrell Hospital; and Laura Seitz of Perry Memorial Hospital.

Pictured are Rachael Prather (left), Sara Wells, Mark Rossi (ICAHN Board President), Emmy Combs and Laura Seitz.