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AHHA Healthcare Champion Awards Recognize Healthcare Workers Across Alaska

The AHHA Healthcare Champion Awards (formerly known as the ASHNHA Patient Safety & Quality Awards) are presented each year to encourage, recognize, and reward individuals and teams taking progressive and effective steps to improve patient care and outcomes across Alaska. Member healthcare facilities are invited to submit nominations in the summer and a committee selects awardees to be honored at AHHA's annual conference. Congratulations to this year's awardees!

FRONT-LINE STAFF AWARD This award recognizes an individual or team at a hospital or long-term care facility that has demonstrated above-and-beyond safety related performance in the workplace. The nomination may describe a system or process improvement, or noteworthy front-line staff performance of safety practices.

Albien Asuncion - Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center

Albien Asuncion is known throughout the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center campus as a natural leader who is hard-working and thoughtful. As a member of the Environmental Services Department, Albien’s primary duties include maintaining a germ-free environment at the hospital and Elder House, but he does so much more than just keep a clean, safe space - he takes the time to brighten the days of patients and coworkers along the way. The residents of the Elder House look forward to Albien’s visits; his welcoming demeanor puts them at ease, and he goes out of his way to accommodate their needs.

Mary Willis - Utuqqanaat Inaat, Maniilaq Healthcare Association

Mary Willis goes above and beyond in leading a wide range of efforts and services for residents at Utuqqanaat Inaat (a place for Elders) as its Director of Nursing Services. She plans and implements active shooter and evacuation drills, ensures all staff members undergo workplace violence prevention training, and initiates weekly rounds with environmental services, maintenance, and food services to keep the facility clean, welcoming, and safe for all the Elders in her care. Mary also led the front line team and was instrumental in implementing policies in defense of COVID-19; the facility had a zero infection rate until March of 2022 and zero loss of life related to COVID-19.

PATIENT SAFETY & QUALITY AWARD These awards recognize hospitals and/or long-term care facilities that have implemented a quality process, project, or program that has resulted in improved outcomes and/or consistent high reliability in reduction of patient harm.

Large Hospital / Patient Safety & Quality Award: Troy McGill, Cheryl Reinhart Lindsey Dunlap - Falls Committee, Alaska Regional Hospital Alaska Regional Hospital’s Falls Committee, led by Troy McGill, Cheryl Reinhart, and Lindsey Dunlap, took the initiative to identify the need for changes in the hospital’s fall reduction strategy and worked to implement three key elements to improve on fall rates: the use of evidence-based bedside mobility assessment tool, M200 bed alarms, and a weekly falls root cause analysis huddle. Troy deserves special recognition for his tenacity in getting BMAT approved and launched at the facility. These interventions have led to a dramatic reduction in falls, exceeding the team’s goal of having less than 3.6 falls/1000 patient days by Q2 2022.

Long-Term Care / Patient Safety & Quality Award: Tina Rein and HR Talent Development Team, Denali Center/Foundation Health Partners

Tina Rein, Administrator at the Denali Center, and the Foundation Health Partners’ HR Talent Development Team are recognized for their efforts to address burnout, reduce staff turnover, and identify strategies to stabilize FHP’s workforce. Strategies included gathering feedback from staff to find causative factors of disengagement; identifying best practices for staff recruitment; developing a pathway for CNAs to become Medication Aides in partnership with the Alaska Board of Nursing and HR; partnering with AHHA to create and sustain a facility-based CNA program; and partnering with Alaska Pacific University to graduate eight LPNs annually in the North Star Borough. Next steps include creating an LPN-to-RN pathway for nontraditional students and developing and implementing a RN internship program.

Health Equity / Patient Safety & Quality Award: Sama Sama PeaceHealth Caregiver Council, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center

In April of 2021, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selected Ketchikan as one of 11 sites across the country to receive a three-year grant for health equity projects. This award is supporting health equity and, by extension, improved safety outcomes for the local Filipino community through the work of the Sama Sama Caregiver Council, comprised entirely of PHKMC Filipino staff and caregivers. The Sama Sama Team is conducting quantitative and qualitative research as well as developing and delivering programming to specifically address the concerns and healthcare inequities faced by Ketchikan's Filipino community.

Innovation / Patient Safety & Quality Award: Post- Acute Complex Patient Pilot Providence St. Elias Specialty Hospital, Providence Extended Care & Providence Transitional Care Center A cross-functional team of caregivers at Providence Transitional Care Center and Providence Extended Care collaborated with Providence St. Elias Specialty Hospital's Respiratory Care Team and clinical staff to examine Alaska’s lack of complex post-acute care services and brainstorm ways to help meet those needs. The group ultimately prioritized patients with chronic tracheostomy needs who were stranded in acute care settings as a pilot group for their work. In June, for the first time in almost 10 years, the first trach patient requiring deep suctioning was successfully discharged to a post-acute setting and admitted to PEC/PTCC. The work with this population has built momentum to find ways to help other patient populations who could be better served.


This award recognizes an advance practice provider or physician who consistently demonstrates their commitment to supporting and/or leading efforts that result in measurable improvements in the delivery of safe patient care.

Dr. Peter Dillon, MD, FAAFP – Tanana Valley Clinic / Foundation Health Partners

Dr. Peter Dillon, a board-certified Family Medicine physician at the Tanana Valley Clinic, has been the driving force in integrating medication-assisted treatment (MAT) into mainstream healthcare settings for patients suffering from alcohol or opioid use disorders in Interior Alaska. Dr. Dillon is particularly concerned with increasing access to addiction treatment for pregnant women, both in Fairbanks and the surrounding rural communities, and has partnered with the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center in these efforts. Dr. Dillon’s passion and tireless commitment has improved treatment across interior Alaska by destigmatizing care, providing education, and increasing patient access.


Beacon Award: Tammy Bailey, Alaska Regional Hospital

Each year, the AHHA staff has the opportunity to choose a recipient for the Beacon Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual or a team whose work has made a notable impact by shedding light on an issue, or by helping to address a significant need within Alaska's healthcare delivery system. This year's recipient, Tammy Bailey, Director of Reimbursement at Alaska Regional, impacts the lives of patients by improving systems delivery. Through her leadership, stakeholders across the state have worked together to better understand and find solutions to the obstacles for complex discharges, reduced regulatory burdens, and streamline systems issues.

Paton Award: Dr. Wiiliam Paton, MD - Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

This year, Dr. William Paton was nominated for AHHA's Healthcare Champion Golden Stethoscope Award. In reviewing his nomination, the award committee felt that his years of dedication to Alaska Native Peoples and his passion for medicine rose to another level of recognition. As such, AHHA is establishing a new category of recognition in his honor this year, the Paton Award. This award will recognize physicians with 40 years or greater of medical service to Alaska residents and will be presented annually by AHHA into perpetuity. Dr. Paton, an Orthopedic surgeon with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium who joined the Alaska Native healthcare system in 1977, will be the first recipient of this prestigious award. During his 40+ years in orthopedic medicine, Dr. Paton has traveled the width and breadth of the land, set thousands of bones, performed thousands of surgeries, and given hope to generations of Alaskans.

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