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Winners Announced: 2023 Excellence in Healthcare Awards

Honorees in D CEO's 10th annual program included Children's Health CEO Christopher Durovich, Texas Oncology CEO R. Steven Paulson, and Baylor Scott & White Health's Dr. Robert Fine.
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D CEO revealed its Excellence in Healthcare winners for 2023 at a private event last night at On the Levee in the Design District. The program honored leaders, entrepreneurs, and practitioners who have a made an impact on the North Texas community. From surgeons who risked their life working on the front lines of the war in Ukraine and physicians caring for pediatric intensive care unit patients with brain injuries to visionary entrepreneurs and system-wide chief executives, it was an evening to remember.

Dr. R. Steven Paulson, the longtime CEO of Texas Oncology, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. His ability to grow the practice across the state, lead the charge toward better cancer care, and advocated for better coverage of biomarker testing. Among those receiving standing ovations was Jacob Locke, a 93-year-old volunteer at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

Paulson Locke, and all other Excellence in Healthcare winners and finalists are recognized in the December issue of D CEO. Be watching for an online photo recap and additional reports in the coming weeks.

2023 Excellence in Healthcare Honorees

INDIVIDUAL CATEGORIES

Lifetime Achievement Award 

Winner: Dr. R. Steven Paulson, Texas Oncology

Dr. R. Steven Paulson joined Texas Oncology more than 40 years ago and assumed his role as CEO in 2000. His leadership has grown the organization to become one of the largest community-based oncology care practices in the U.S. He has formed the organization into his vision of cancer care as a predominantly outpatient service that causes less disruption in a patient’s life while being more cost effective. Paulson is both an innovator and advocate for oncology care. He has long been a proponent of biomarker testing and precision medicine, ensuring that patients receive personalized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. He has also spent time advocating for new legislation in Texas that requires health insurance companies to pay for biomarker testing, which can help doctors understand how a patient will interact with cancer. 

He has also been a trailblazer in cancer research, participating in and helping establish and support an expansive clinical trial and research program that helped lead to important breakthroughs in cancer treatment, including trials for the leading immunotherapy medications in use today. Additionally, Texas Oncology implemented a value-based care model that saved Medicare more than $134 million over the five-year life of the Oncology Care Model program that ended June 30 of last year. Under Paulson’s leadership, Texas Oncology has grown to more than 280 sites of service and more than 530 physicians treating more than 70,000 new cancer patients each year. It delivers approximately half of all cancer care administered in Texas.

Healthcare Hero Award 

Winner: Dr. Danny Holland, Methodist Health System

Dr. Danny Holland volunteered to go to Ukraine with Samaritan’s Purse to provide services to a city near the front lines of war following Russia’s invasion of the country. With an international team of volunteers, he worked for a month in a makeshift hospital in a shopping center in a town that had been without a hospital for months. 

Leaving behind a supportive wife and children, Holland provided life-saving care to residents dealing with chronic conditions, illnesses, and injuries, as well as the occasional fighter who needed service after being injured in battle. The team worked every day for a month, sleeping, eating, and living in the hospital full time, as it wasn’t considered safe to explore the area. Dr. Holland says being isolated helped him be thankful for what he has and learn to slow down and connect with his coworkers and patients back at home.  

Outstanding Hospital Executive 

Winner: Christopher Durovich, Children’s Health 

Christopher Durovich is an active member of North Texas’ medical and civic community, serving in leadership positions with the Texas Hospital Association, Dallas Citizens Council, and Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce. He recently oversaw the opening a specialty center providing specialty, urgent care, and advanced sports medicine services, as well as the construction of a 395,000-square-foot tower.  Durovich also championed a $56 million investment to renovate one of his hospital’s emergency departments. And he can count among his many successes a joint enterprise with UT Southwestern, an expansion into the RedBird development in southern Dallas, and continuing to grow remote mental health services for those who need it most. 

Finalists: Eleanor Huff, Baylor Scott & White Health, The Heart Hospital; Chris Mowan, Medical City Dallas; Pamela Stoyanoff, Methodist Health System 

Outstanding Healthcare Executive 

Winner: Paul Singh, U.S. Dermatology Partners  

Paul Singh brings a background in private equity to healthcare and has helped his company experience unprecedented financial success and geographical expansion. Since assuming the position of CEO in 2018, the company has experienced a 20 percent annual growth rate, and this summer grew its presence to eight states and 100 locations. The organization is working to address the rural health divide with an innovative program that incentives physicians to move into underserved rural areas in an outreach program that hopes to launch 30 new locations in eight states in the next three years and opened 12 new locations this year. With numerous recognitions for quality leadership and workplace culture, our winner is improving patient outcomes and business performance.  

Finalists: Scott Flannery, United Healthcare; Robert Goodwill, Cook Children’s Physicians Network; Anurag Jain, Access Healthcare; Jackleen Samuel, Resilient Healthcare 

Outstanding Healthcare Advocate 

Winner: Dr. Robert Fine, Baylor Scott & White Health 

Dr. Robert Fine embodies what it means to advocate and shape healthcare policy and practice—and be on the leading edge of an entirely new specialty. As a young physician, he helped lead the charge to reform the ethics panel at his hospital and advocate for patients at the end of their lives.  Fine recently published a collection of essays about the end of life and implemented clinical ethics concepts that were written into the Texas Advance Directives Act. Our state’s end-of-life guidelines have subsequently informed other laws across the country. Our winner has been on numerous national and state committees for medical ethics and palliative care and is an in-demand speaker nationwide.  

Finalists: Jim Allard, Medical City Arlington; James Wynne, American Liberty Oil and Texas Health Resources 

Outstanding Healthcare Innovator 

Winner: Vishal Ahuja, SMU 

Vishal Ahuja was recognized by several nominators for excelling across several areas, including research, service, and leadership. He is widely published and brings together healthcare, business, and law while applying a data-centric approach to improving care. He organizes thought leadership conferences and roundtable discussions locally and was recently published in the American Journal of Managed Care, where he was part of a team that developed a model to predict hospital readmission rates in Medicaid patients with diabetes, one of the most common causes of hospital admission and highest cost drivers in healthcare. 

Finalists: Dr. Camille Bradley, Baylor Scott & White Health; Dr. Karl Csaky, Retina Foundation of the Southwest 

Outstanding Healthcare Practitioner 

Winner: Dr. Avi Chavda, Virtuoso Spine and Joint 

Dr. Avi Chavda has mastered conventional interventional spine procedures and has pushed the boundaries of innovation, introducing novel techniques that have reduced pain, recovery time, and risk in his practice area. As one nominator puts it, “He understands that every patient’s journey is unique, and he invests considerable time in understanding his patients’ backgrounds, concerns, and goals.” Chavda has helped write textbooks used to train the next generation of providers. In addition to being proficient in his practice, obtained a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology from Harvard University to have a bigger picture understanding of the industry.  

Finalists: Cindy Boggs, Heritage Houses; Parker Forte, Fortified Counseling PLLC; Dr. Todd Shanks, Restorative Spine and Brain Center of Dallas 

Outstanding Hospital Practitioner 

Winner: Dr. Lina Chalak, UT Southwestern Medical Center 

Dr. Lina Chalak balances being a professor, division chief, and medical director all while caring for some of the most vulnerable patients in the neonatal neuro intensive care unit. She is a physician scientist who has written for more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and received consistent federal funding since 2008 while investigating infant asphyxia, hypothermia, and neonatal brain injury.  After finishing her residency in Lebanon, Chalak had to repeat the training after arriving in the United States and followed up with a neonatal fellowship and a master’s in clinical science, all in her third language of English, which she learned as an adult. She is a national and international speaker on neonatal neurology, has planned and hosted numerous conferences, and prioritizes mentoring young physicians. Our winner recently presented to the Crystal Charity Ball, earning a $1 million grant to expand the Fetal Neurological Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from one to four North Texas hospitals.  

Finalists: Dr. Clay M. Elswick, Medical City Arlington; Dr. Shelley Hall, Baylor Scott & White Health; Dr. Danny Holland, Methodist Health System; Dr. James Park, Texas Health Physicians Group 

Outstanding Volunteer 

Winner: Jacob Locke, Methodist Dallas Medical Center 

According to one nominator, Jacob Locke is the most recognizable person at the hospital where he volunteers, ahead of the hospital president and world-renowned surgeons. The 93-year-old reports twice a week for duty, despite his age and struggles with mobility. Locke is carrying on the legacy of his wife of 70 years, who volunteered at the same hospital for more than two decades until she passed away in 2019. In his quarter century of service, he has put in 8,400 hours at a value of $236,000 to the hospital. One employee says he “is the most reliable, caring, and hardworking person I know. He is always willing to pitch in and help when needed, and he has a friend everywhere he goes.” 

Finalists: Marsha Huey, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center; Betsy Johnson, Methodist Charlton Medical Center; Vic Lambert, Texas Health Plano 

COMPANY AND ORGANIZATION CATEGORIES

Outstanding Health System 

Winner: Methodist Health System 

Our winner tonight balances being based in an area of high need with growth to add hospitals to many of the rapidly expanding areas of North Texas, including one under construction right now in the northern suburbs. Its four wholly-owned hospitals have been awarded Magnet status for excellence in nursing services, an honor given to fewer than 9 percent of hospitals nationwide. Methodist completed a $71 million renovation of one of the busiest emergency departments in the region, a 40,000 square foot project. Leaders were major influences and advocates for recently passed state laws that make our healthcare workers safer. Finally, the system follows only Parkland Health in Dallas for the level of charity care it provides the community.  

Finalists: Baylor Scott & White Health, Salience Health, Texas Health Resources, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth 

Achievement in Community Outreach 

Winner: JPS Health Network 

JPS Health Network has been working with the Tarrant Area Food Bank to bridge the gap between the hospital and the community. Called the Tarrant County Food Bank RED Bus, the initiative provides community resource assistance, nutrition, and healthy food to communities experiencing food insecurity. Screenings assess things that make up around 80 percent of a person’s health outcomes, and food is a top three factor. The program serves 13 counties in North Texas and distributes 60 million healthy meals a year, providing a million meals a week to those in need.  

Finalists: Baylor Scott & White Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Achievement in Innovation 

Winner: Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation 

The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation is leading a five-year Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Accountable Health Communities initiative. Led by PCCI, it brings together Parkland Health, Baylor Scott and White, Children’s Health, Methodist Health System, and Metrocare Services, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and more than 100 community organizations. Together, they provide critical services to meet the needs of residents in Dallas County ZIP codes with high concentrations of at-risk individuals. When comparing claims data for more than 5,000 individuals, PCCI saw a reduction in average emergency department utilization of 48 percent a reduction in average inpatient admissions of 25 percent, and a reduction in average total costs of $7,000 per beneficiary paid by Medicaid. Those numbers show the profound impact this innovative initiative is having. 

Finalists: Baylor Scott & White Health, REVELOHEALTH, Salience TMS Neuro Solutions, Texas Health Physicians Group 

Achievement in Medical Research 

Winner: Baylor Scott & White Health 

Seven years ago, Baylor Scott & White Health embarked on a uterus transplant clinical trial. The goal was to provide hope for the millions of women worldwide living with uterine infertility, which affects nearly 9.5 million women in the United States. Of the 20 women who participated in the trial, 14 successfully gave birth to at least one child. As a result of that research, our winner is one of three uterus transplant programs in the nation and is the largest and most successful in terms of number of transplants and live births. And last year, it was the first in the world to achieve a birth via uterus transplant outside of a clinical trial. 

Finalists: Methodist Health System Clinical Research Institute, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, UT Southwestern Medical Center 

Outstanding Healthcare Collaboration 

Winner: Medical City Healthcare and the American Red Cross North Texas Region 

Medical City Healthcare and the American Red Cross North Texas Region hosted summer blood drives at 10 hospitals across North Texas with the goal of offsetting seasonal shortages while also providing benefits to sickle cell patients. It partnered with organizations in the Black community, as blood donations from individuals of the same race or similar ethnicity are the most effective way to help combat sickle cell. The collaboration was part of a national initiative in that began in 2021 to reach more blood donors to help patients with sickle cell disease and improve health outcomes. As a result, the North Texas region exceeded its target collections by 27.5%. It collected nearly 4,200 units of blood—beating its goal by nearly 1,000 units. 

Finalists: Baylor Scott & White Health and Juanita Craft Recreation Center, Resilient Healthcare and Community Hospital Corporation 

Outstanding Mental Health Collaboration 

Winner: Texas Health Resources and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute 

Texas Health Resources and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute supports the North Texas School Mental Health Executive Learning Community, where senior officials are brought together from 19 school districts for monthly training sessions, in-depth discussions, and more. The collaboration aims to help districts with school mental health programming and improve student outcomes, well-being, and academic achievement. “This is a first-of-its-kind program that promises to dramatically improve the emotional well-being of children and their families in North Texas,” says one of the collaborating CEOs. “District leaders are equipped to develop successful programs and increase access to mental health care for students, helping them work with parents and families to identify and treat student mental health conditions early.” 

Finalists: Children’s Health and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, TimelyCare and the University of Texas and Texas State Systems 

Outstanding Medical Real Estate Project 

Winner: Texas Health Dallas 

Texas Health Dallas recently finished a nearly $60 million renovation of a 362,000-square-foot center for women and infants. Improvements include enlarging and adding additional labor and delivery suites, and overhauling an observation area, recovery rooms, triage facilities, post-partum unit, nursing stations, and concierge areas. Designed to deliver efficient and quality care for women and infants, its new layout allows for easier transitions between patients. The operating rooms feature state-of-the-art technology and smart ambient and ultraviolet lighting for virus and infection prevention. The eight-story building has 84 neonatal intensive care unit beds and handles more than 32,000 procedures and 5,000 births each year.  

Finalists: Cook Children’s Prosper Pediatric Hospital, Dallas ISD’s Biomedical Preparatory at UTSW, Methodist Celina Medical Center 

Outstanding Merger or Acquisition 

Winner: Reata Pharmaceuticals acquired by BioGen

Biogen’s acquisition of Reata Pharmaceuticals was a $7.3 billion deal between a local firm and an industry giant. After a tough setback this year where the winner ended research on one treatment, it went to market with the first drug to treat a rare degenerative neurological disorder. The pathway our winner utilized may also be a significant factor in fighting other neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Huntingdon’s disease. “There are many follow-on developmental opportunities,” the CEO says. “We are expanding our pipeline with the same science.”

Finalists: AMN acquires Connetics USA, Axxess acquires Complia Health, Baylor Scott & White Health acquired 41 NextCare Urgent Cares 

Achievement in Wellness Programs 

Winner: City of Plano

The City of Plano provides wellness benefits to a wide variety of employees, from those who do physical labor outside to those who spend all day in front of computer screens. Its health and wellness initiatives are built around incentivizing preventative care. For example, Plano subsidizes Airrosti visits to help workers deal with orthopedic issues, aligns with value-based care providers like the Catalyst Health Group, provides convenient Teladoc accounts for remote care, and connects team members with employee assistance programs for in-person or virtual mental health services.  

Finalists: Baylor Scott & White Health, Methodist Health System Wellness, Texas Health Resources 

Author

Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…
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