Annual Mercy Honors event recognizes advocates, leaders and employees with RISE Awards and the ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award
On Friday, February 28, 2020, Mercy Care recognized more than 80 community advocates and health care leaders with the RISE (Resilience, Innovation, Service and Empowerment) Awards. The RISE Awards celebrate individuals and organizations in our community who are working to make the lives of others better. The awards honor individuals and organizations in the three areas of Compassion, Innovation, and Advocacy and Collaboration.
This award is for those who inspire change in the community by their compassion, enthusiasm and dedication. They spread a message of hope. They understand the importance of treating the whole person. They help others have a positive outlook on life. They make sure that people who make important decisions about health care hear the members’ stories.
This award is for those who use innovation to improve how members get care. They do this by developing new programs or transforming how services are delivered.
Advocacy and Collaboration
This award is for those who advocate for change in health care. They give a voice to people who can’t always speak up. They work to raise awareness regarding important health topics. They partner with others to create positive change in the community.
Individual: Gregory Mingus, Recovery Empowerment Network
Greg began working with Recovery Empowerment Network (REN) in April of 2017 as a recovery coach. He quickly became a star for his passion to help members. In addition to his coaching duties, Greg was dedicated to creating a fitness center for members. Greg knows physical health has a large impact on mental health and amassed a gym full of mostly donated equipment to help members have the best chance to conquer physical health setbacks. Members have lost hundreds of pounds while participating in his classes. One gentleman who was in a wheelchair when he started with Recovery Empowerment Network is now walking and riding his bike. Greg is able to take what is often a daunting first step and make it fun and enjoyable for each member.
Organization: Kinga Tomos, King House Assisted Living Home
Kinga Tomos is the owner of King House Assisted Living Home. When her first home filled up, she started a second home so she could provide services to more members. Kinga does not shy away from taking on some tough members who need a lot of care. Kinga treats all members like family. Kinga has helped residents reconnect with family, she takes residents to their appointments, and even has paid for supplies out of pocket to ensure members get what they need.
Individual: Josette Sullins, DEHP Integrative Care
Josette developed a new treatment method for PTSD and trauma. When she realized the effectiveness, she paid for a research study to be done by Dr. Bob Bohanske of Southwest Behavioral and Health Services. Raising funding through private donations, the study went on for two years. When the research was completed and was published, it showed an 83% success rate through evidence-based and measured relief of symptoms. Josette has donated her services to homeless individuals, veterans and others suffering from severe PTSD and trauma. She continues to provide her specialized service to those without insurance coverage or financial means at no charge. Her clinic has also been designated as a treatment partner with Southwest Behavioral and Health Services as a referral resource for trauma survivors.
Organization: Medical ACT Team – Copa Health
The Medical ACT Team at Copa Health has been recognized for developing innovative ideas to engage and support their members – such as their talent show. Many members reached out about the talent show, stating that they rediscovered their passion for dancing and that participating in the talent show helped them meet new people who have similar passions. Additionally, the Medical ACT Team was recognized for their member awards. By presenting awards to members who showed improvement, they have celebrated members’ accomplishments when they may have gone their entire lives without recognition. The Medical ACT Team presents their members with awards for improvement in areas such as
- Esteem for valuable involvement in housing, employment and rehab
- Celebration for their sobriety
- Nightingale for success in health and wellness
- Sunshine for being positive role models
The Medical ACT Team also started the "Peer Facilitator" program where members have the opportunity to learn how to facilitate training groups. Running these groups can enable members to inspire and support others going through similar situations.
Advocacy and Collaboration
Individual: Michelle Dumay
Michelle has played an instrumental role in the Mercy Care ALTCS Member Advisory Council. Michelle is engaged, she asks questions about how the policies and programs being presented would benefit and/or impact members like her daughter or caregivers like herself. She researches and outreaches for alternative treatments and best practices for how she can be the best mom and caregiver possible, while also assisting others.
Organization: Phoenix Human Trafficking Collaborative - Phoenix Police Department HEAT Unit, Streetlight USA and Phoenix DREAM Center
In 2017, the Phoenix Police HEAT unit was coming across child victims of trafficking and recovering them just to see them run away. To address this, the Phoenix Human Trafficking Collaborative began operations in October 2017 as a partnership between Mercy Care, Phoenix Police Department HEAT Unit, Streetlight USA and Phoenix DREAM Center. Over the past two and a half years, the Phoenix Police Department’s HEAT unit has gone above and beyond working with the Collaborative to ensure that these victims get the help they need immediately. They do this by providing transportation to the hospitals and to placement after that. Phoenix PD often transports kids that do not have open cases with their department, and they do it because they care.
Phoenix Dream Center uses a trauma-informed approach to help adults who have been traumatized by human trafficking. They provide a safe, secure, integrated, homelike environment to women who come into their custody as part of the Collaborative. This environment includes onsite physical and behavioral health services, individual and group therapy, onsite and online school so members can complete credit recovery and high school diplomas, onsite pharmacy, and an array of other support services. They work closely with Mercy Care, Phoenix Police Department, Maricopa County Juvenile Court, St. Luke's Behavioral Health, Department of Child Services and multiple other providers to advocate for appropriate services and protections for these young people to help them heal and keep them from returning to their traffickers. The Phoenix Human Trafficking program has a 94% retention rate, which means that 94% of the young people receiving treatment through this program remain in the program.
Kurt Sheppard - RISE Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
For the first time ever, Mercy Care awarded two Lifetime Achievement Awards. One award was presented to Kurt Sheppard, former President and CEO, Valle del Sol. The other award was presented to Christy Dye, former President and CEO, Partners in Recovery.
Kurt Sheppard became the Chief Executive Officer of Valle del Sol in 2011. He began working for Valle del Sol in June 1999. Over the years Kurt has held many positions with Valle del Sol, including Director of Quality and Information Systems and Chief Operations Officer. He often says, while he obtained his master’s degree through formal education, Valle del Sol has been his PhD program.
Click here to watch a video honoring Kurt Sheppard.
Christy Dye - RISE Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
Christy Dye’s background spans more than 25 years as a state administrator, provider and system leader in managed behavioral health, healthcare integration and recovery-focused provider networks in Arizona and other states. She was an early innovator in implementing an integrated service system for adults with co-occurring disorders, including strategies for network development, financing, licensure and consensus building. More recently, Christy’s interests have turned to health IT and using technology to improve behavioral healthcare practice.
Click here to watch a video honoring Christy Dye.
ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award
During the event, Network Administrator Jessica Clemens was recognized as the ninth annual recipient of the ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award. “We are here for our members and their families,” said Tad Gary, Mercy Care Chief Operating Officer. “Jessica is one of those employees who takes that work to heart and really structures her team and her day-to-day operations around that focus of members and their families.”
The ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award is named after Kate Aurelius, a former Mercy Care employee and former deputy director of AHCCCS. It honors a Mercy Care employee who cares deeply about the people we serve, encourages others to care deeply for the individuals we serve and infuses that compassion into their everyday work. The award recognizes an employee’s outstanding contributions to our members and provides special recognition to those who consistently demonstrate their commitment to excellence in all aspects of their jobs while helping Mercy Care further its mission.
“Kate epitomized the notion of family,” said Jami Snyder, Director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). “Her fierce loyalty, her authenticity, her willingness to challenge those around to do better and to be better, her wit, her subtle way of letting you know that she cared and her contagious laughter reminded all of us that on any given day this job is more than simply a professional endeavor. It is, in fact, an opportunity to come together, to work in partnership and in service to the nearly 1.9 million lives that we are responsible for each day.”
Click here to watch a video celebrating Jessica Clemens.
Mercy Honors event brings RISE Awards and the ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award together
On Thursday, February 28, 2019, Mercy Care recognized more than 90 community advocates and health care leaders through the RISE (Resilience, Innovation, Service and Empowerment) Awards. The RISE Awards celebrate inspiring people in the community who are working to improve lives by advocating and promoting recovery, health and wellness. Nine individuals including transition-age youth, adults and providers were awarded in the categories of Leadership and Advocacy and Health and Wellness.
Leadership and Advocacy
Cassandra Brueck is the 2019 Youth honoree. Cassandra, a high school student from Gilbert, Arizona, recognized the warning signs and prevented a friend from attempting suicide. That experience has led her to advocate for greater awareness of the triggers and signs and speaking up, including public speaking and writing columns in support of suicide prevention.
Anika Robinson, Susan Woodruff and Angela Teachout are the 2019 Adult honorees. They are the founders of ASA Now, a non-profit organization in Arizona that advocates, supports, and assists children who are currently in or have been adopted from foster care in Arizona. These women were instrumental in the passage of an Arizona state law in 2016 that simplified access to behavioral health care services for foster and adopted children. They about to open the first community center in Arizona that specializes in serving foster, adoptive and kinship families. The community center will offer respite, support groups, trainings, after school tutoring, extra-curricular activities, aquatic and equine assisted therapy, family events, life/trade skills, community outreach, and advocacy and support in navigating the behavioral health system.
Gene Cavallo is the 2019 Provider honoree. Gene is the VP of Behavioral Health for Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix. He has spent his 30-year career dedicated to improving behavioral health services in Arizona. Gene champions policies that improve the lives of vulnerable Arizonans living with a severe mental illness. Among his recent achievements is his involvement with the re-opening of a hospital in Phoenix that will be devoted to behavioral health services, including 192 inpatient beds.
Health and Wellness
Steven Castañeda is the 2019 Youth honoree. Steven, a young father of two children who were critically injured in a fatal car crash on April 13, 2018. He has been an exemplary advocate for his children, while working a full time job. He has made sure his children receive the integrated services they need. Steven is also a great support to his older brother who recently received a serious mental illness designation. His brother had a hard time accepting the diagnosis, but is now active in care.
Charles “CJ” Johnson and Renee Medunic are the 2019 adult honorees. Renee and CJ shared their stories of recovery from opioid addiction for a public service announcement produced by Mercy Care. See the video here. Renee is also a member of the Mercy Care Member Advisory Committee and serves as a peer support specialist. CJ shared his story last summer at Mercy Care’s opioid provider symposium.
The Medical ACT Team at Partners in Recovery (PIR) is the 2019 Provider honoree. This team received multiple nominations from members they have served. The Medical ACT team held a health fair for PIR patients to receive onsite medical services, such as eye exams—which was particularly helpful for members with diabetes. The Medical ACT team also provides daily sessions on the importance of exercise, proper nutrition and self-care and promotes healthy lifestyle choices to empower members.
Mercy Care awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Tom Betlach, former director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Tom provided nearly three decades of distinguished service to the state of Arizona, led AHCCCS for the past nine years and served as its deputy director for the prior eight years. He is widely recognized as a national leader in Medicaid managed care and health care policy. Click here to watch a video honoring Tom Betlach.
During the event, Mercy Care Marketing and Communications Manager Monica Alonzo was recognized as the 2018 recipient of the ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award. “When Monica speaks and connects with the member, they feel relief. They realize they aren’t alone and they realize that they actually have a heart working on their behalf,” said Debbie Hillman, Mercy Care Chief Administrative Officer.
The ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award is named after Kate Aurelius, a former Mercy Care employee and former deputy director of AHCCCS. It honors a Mercy Care employee who cares deeply about the people we serve, encourages others to care deeply for the individuals we serve and infuses that compassion into their everyday work. The award recognizes an employee’s outstanding contributions to our members and provides special recognition to those who consistently demonstrate their commitment to excellence in all aspects of their jobs while helping Mercy Care further its mission. “She is one of those people who walks into a room and everyone there is better for it,” said Laurie Munn, Marketing and Communications Director. “She has made us a better team and a better organization because of how she continuously keeps an eye on what is best for our members. I think she’s extraordinary.” Click here to watch a video celebrating Monica Alonzo.
ABOUT THE AWARDS
Mercy Honors is a celebration that combines Mercy Care's signature recognition events -- ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award and RISE Awards.
During a breakfast reception, we honor our community of members, advocates, providers and employees for their outstanding contributions and commitment to leadership, advocacy, health and wellness.
ReMEMBER Kate Aurelius Award
An annual recognition program to memorialize Kate Aurelius, a former Mercy Care employee and deputy director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), for her dedication to ensuring quality health care for the most vulnerable. The award recognizes an employee's outstanding contributions to our members and commitment to excellence.
An annual recognition program to recognize people in our community working to make the lives of others better. RISE stands for Resilience, Innovation, Service and Empowerment. The awards honor individuals and organizations in two categories.
Leadership and Advocacy: This award is for a youth, an adult and a provider who are leaders in their community. They inspire change by the way they live their lives. They give a voice to people who can't always speak up. They take their message to health care decision makers.
Health and Wellness: This award is for a youth, an adult and a provider who helps others have a positive outlook on life. They encourage health and wellness for the mind, body and spirit. They work on improving themselves. They help people get involved in their recovery through community involvement.