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Avera Names Quality Congress Awardees

Aug 30, 2021 02:06PM ● By Med Magazine

Avera held its 16th Quality Congress in Sioux Falls on Aug. 25, where four Avera employees received Avera Caring Spirit Awards in recognition of the compassion, hospitality and stewardship they demonstrate in their day-to-day work.

The Avera Quality Congress is held every other year to celebrate the best of the best in care and service at Avera. Quality Congress was started in 2002 to honor people and projects that improve the quality of care offered to every patient, every day at every Avera facility.

 The 2021 event focused on the innovation and achievements of Avera facilities and employees during the challenging past year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carrie Heine, Registered Nurse in the ICU at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, S.D., received the Avera Caring Spirit Award in the Compassion category.

Carrie had a critical patient who was losing her fight to COVID. She consoled this patient’s significant other and offered the EKG printout of her last breath and heartbeat. Carrie is known to sit with patients, holding their hand while listening to their wants, needs, life history and stories. Carrie advocates for patients and strives to keep them as comfortable as possible.  She has also shown concern for building cultural bridges with patients and their families.

Jessica Macedo, Laundry Aide at Hegg Health Center Avera in Rock Valley, Iowa, received the Avera Caring Spirit Award in the Hospitality category. Through her bilingual skills, Jessica is a connection between different cultures. While cleaning in the long-term care facility and independent living units, Jessica takes time to visit with each resident and personalizes her services to their preferences. She volunteered to personally deliver laundered clothing so she could visit and interact with elderly residents who were unable to see their families, and underwent regular COVID testing so she could provide this service.

Two individuals received Avera Caring Spirit Awards in the Stewardship category – Sara Henderson, Vice President of Supply Chain for Avera Health, and Mike Black, Assistant Vice President, Clinical Laboratories, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

As COVID began, the world’s spotlight turned on health care supplies and the initial shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Sara immediately sprang to action and established herself as a selfless leader and partner. She formed relationships that helped Avera’s supply chain respond rapidly, efficiently and consistently. She constantly focused on establishing processes and protocols to move mountains and break down barriers.

Throughout COVID, Mike fought tirelessly to get Avera Laboratories the resources and testing allocations needed to serve patients. Over 400,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed for the Avera system with a turn-around time far below the national average.

When Avera assisted with a mass testing event, Mike led the charge to quickly put laboratory services in place and was present in the tent for most of that week either helping set up or providing support as lab staff processed thousands of samples. During the pandemic, Mike rounded multiple times a day, showing his respect and support for lab staff.


“These awards were a very difficult decision for our judges, because we had story after story of people who worked beyond their job descriptions, taking on extra duties and responding with compassionate bravery. I’m so proud of the 64 employees nominated for Avera Caring Spirit Awards, and thousands more like them who were the health care heroes of the past 18 months,” said Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health.