2019 Healthcare Heroes
Each year, we honor those healthcare professionals who go above and beyond for their patients, their communities, and their fields. Pushing Utah’s healthcare industry forward by creating innovation in suicide prevention, advocating for communities with disabilities, and rehabilitating the state of neurological care, these heroes do more than just save lives, they inspire them.
Jan Black, PT, MSPT
Clinic Director | Neuroworx
Almost 30 years into her career, Jan Black has educated, mentored, and inspired hundreds of therapy students, shaping the next generation of clinicians. And as the clinic director at Neuroworx, she’s had a profound effect on her community through cofounding the innovative rehabilitation center for people with paralyzing neurological conditions. Ms. Black has a constant commitment to superior care and she’s grown her clinic from a small, one-room entity with 12 patients to a state-of-the-art, 25,500 square-foot clinic serving hundreds.
CEO | Revere Health
Spearheading Revere Health’s focus on value-based care, Scott Barlow is proud of their efforts to shift healthcare delivery towards transparency and affordability. “We’re actively pursuing new care models where we carry financial risks to achieve these objectives, which has enabled us to focus on things that make sense,” he says. “I’ve had an amazing experience seeing how we made a difference in the lives of people.”
Adam Balls, MD
Chair, Emergency Department | Intermountain Medical Center
Utah Emergency Physicians
After the loss of a beloved emergency department team member to suicide, Dr. Adam Balls and his colleagues took action. Creating the OASIS program, Dr. Balls and his team developed the initiative to provide peer support when his colleagues face difficult encounters. “Caregiver fatigue and mental injury are being nationally recognized as significant problems in our busy and complex healthcare system,” says Dr. Balls. “It is our hope that through comprehensive programs like our OASIS initiative, we will provide caregivers with the tools and support needed to take better care of themselves and their patients.”
Kristy L. Jones
Community Health Improvement Area Manager | Intermountain Healthcare
Kristy L. Jones brings people together. And as a community health improvement area manager, she devotes her time to improve community health. “Putting together events and programs that can ease someone’s mind makes me glad I chose public health as a career,” she says. From helping uninsured women through the Women’s Health Connection to supporting suicide prevention through the Suicide Awareness Walk hosted by NUHOPE, Ms. Jones is passionate about the wellbeing of her community. “That’s why I love public health and my position,” she says. “I get to bring peace of mind to people. I ease their burdens. I help them find joy again.”
Operations Manager, The Wellness Bus | University of Utah
Nancy Ortiz has always made being healthy a personal goal. But watching many people in her community fall short, often due to a lack of resources and opportunity, she went into healthcare with the hope of bridging that gap. Now, as the operations manager at The Wellness Bus, she helps to do just that. An educational program dedicated to bringing awareness of diabetes directly into the community, The Wellness Bus offers chronic disease screening, nutrition education, health and wellness counseling, and medical referrals to those at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. “Illness doesn’t discriminate and neither should healthcare,” says Ms. Ortiz.
Merit Medical cares as much about their employees as they do their patients. Appointing their first wellness officer in May, Dr. Nicole Priest, they are passionate about caring for the health and wellbeing of employees, both at work and at home. Recently launching an on-site dental clinic that provides free dental care for Merit employees and their families, opening a one-acre employee garden that offers gardening and cooking workshops, and opening healthy eating cafés to help employees identify healthy food choices, they’re going above and beyond to improve their employees’ quality of life.
Ana Call, RN, BSN, MBA-HM
Nurse | Intermountain Healthcare, Orem Community Hospital Women’s Center
With over 15 years of experience in her field, Ana Call is someone that both her peers and her patients look up to. Working in labor and delivery, she takes every opportunity to share her wisdom and teach others, aiding in the implementation of regular educational opportunities to promote growth and expertise in her area of nursing. And whether it’s helping moms come into their new lives as parents or new babies transition into extrauterine life, she advocates for her patients and works to give them the care they deserve. “I love it when I bond with a patient and leave my shift thinking, ‘This is why I became a nurse,’” she says. “I love feeling as though I have truly impacted my patients for the better.”
Dr. Richard P. Nielsen
Founding President | The Institute of Clinical Electrophysiology (1994-1998)
Founding President/CEO | Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals (1998-current)
Founding President/CEO | Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (proposed) (2017-current)
Founding President | World of Difference (Charitable Humanitarian Foundation) (2006-current)
Dr. Richard P. Nielsen has spent decades serving Utah’s medical education community. A key founder of the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals in Provo, Utah, he has spent the last 21 years fostering the doctoral and master’s degree levels of education in the next generation of Utah’s healthcare practitioners. And now, he’s in the midst of founding the proposed Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine, the first medical school in Utah County.
Dr. Nielsen also served as a physical therapist with the US Navy for 20 years and served as the specialty consultant to the US Congress, Senate, Supreme Court, Surgeon General, Pentagon, and the White House as a board-certified clinical electroneuromyographer. He is also the cofounder of two charitable foundations and helps build schools for underserved children in Africa.
Matt Peterson, MD
Reproductive Endocrinologist | Utah Center of Reproductive Medicine
Former Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology | University of Utah
Dr. Matt Peterson is proud of the opportunity he has to help others. Working as a reproductive endocrinologist, he has not only had the opportunity to be involved in the delivery of over 10,000 babies, but has helped over 35,000 couples reach fertility. “Every day of work has been a privilege,” he says. “We have the opportunity to care for wonderful people facing difficult disappointments and stress, as well as achieving their greatest desires.” And Dr. Peterson is adamant that his work helps him fulfill a higher purpose.
Marcela Smid, MD, MA, MS
Assistant Professor | University of Utah Health
Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine | Intermountain Healthcare
“I’ve always known I was going to be a doctor,” says Dr. Marcela Smid. “It’s something I felt called to. Medicine picked me, and I’m so grateful it did.” Focused on helping women struggling with addiction to have safe and healthy pregnancies, Dr. Smid is on the front line of the opioid epidemic. And as the co-director of the University of Utah’s Substance Use and Pregnancy—Recovery, Addiction, Dependence (SUPeRAD) clinic in South Jordan, she brings her unique expertise to the women with complicated pregnancies who need her. Dr. Smid is also on the board of the Utah Women and Newborn’s Quality Collaborative, where she works on initiatives to improve the care of women and their families.
Brad Rasmusson, MD
Medical Director, Thoracic Intensive Care Unit | Intermountain Medical Center
Dr. Brad Rasmusson stands out among physicians who care for patients that present critical cardiac illness. A pulmonary critical care physician, Dr. Rasmusson developed the Cardiovascular Critical Care Medicine (CCM) program for the Intermountain Heart Institute and has been part of the UTAH Cardiac Transplant Program since it began in the mid-1980s, which has since evolved to offering mechanical heart pumps to patients with failing hearts. Pioneering the innovation that has brought these therapies forward, Dr. Rasmusson has become an integral part in offering management to critically ill patients.
John DeGrey, MBA
Software Engineering Manager | University of Utah Hospital & Clinics
John DeGrey works on the cutting edge of innovation. But instead of saving lives through medicine, he saves lives through technology. The lead developer for SafeUT, a suicide prevention app that initially launched in 2016, Mr. DeGrey has become passionate about what he describes as the pinnacle of his career. “Before this project, I had no idea how pervasive the suicide problem is in the state of Utah,” he says. “It became a near obsession to get something out for these kids as quickly as possible while also maintaining a high standard of quality.” Since upgrading the app in 2017, it has had over 100,000 downloads and received over 60,000 encounters.
Associate Chief Operating Officer | Intermountain Healthcare
Serving Intermountain’s soon-to-be 24 hospitals, which represent over 2,850 hospital beds and more than 19,000 employees, Joe Mott leads the effort to improve lives by making sure that hundreds of thousands of Utahns can receive safe, quality, affordable healthcare. “There is so much good healthcare in America,” says Mr. Mott. “But there is also so much that could, and must, be better.” Mr. Mott is a graduate of Brigham Young University and long-term resident of Bountiful, Utah. He also served seven years on the Davis County Board of Health and currently serves on the board for Volunteers of America in Utah.
Susan D. Watson, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC
Interim Director, MSN/Family Nurse Practitioner Program | Roseman University of Health Sciences
With more than 40 years spent as a practicing nurse and more than 10 teaching future nurses, Susan D. Watson has spent a lifetime in service. “I have always worked in healthcare, and cannot imagine working in another field,” she says. Dr. Watson is retiring this year from the College of Nursing at Roseman University. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the Utah Nurse practitioners, the Utah Nursing Association, the Nursing Peer Education Committee for the Department of Professional Licensing, and the Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders.
MD & PhD Student | University of Utah
Director | No One Dies Alone Program
Brian Zenger doesn’t have what you’d call “free time,” when he’s not attending classes at the University of Utah or studying as both a PhD and MD student, he’s managing the No One Dies Alone (NODA) program. Dedicating 20-40 hours of service per month, Mr. Zenger is one of the trained volunteers who sits with patients during their final hours, as a compassionate companion when they take their last breaths. And since he began volunteering with the program in 2017, he’s sat with over 10 of these patients who would otherwise have died alone.
Founding Attorney | Emerald Vale Legal
In 2006, Joseph Taggart suffered a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. At only 24 years old, he spent more than four months in hospitals on a respirator. But now, after more than 13 years of recovery and volunteer work, he’s become an advocate for people with disabilities. Working to expand many of Utah’s public programs, such as Medicaid work incentive programs for those with disabilities, and advocating for public policies to benefit Utah’s disabled communities, he’s helping to improve the quality of life for people who are facing the same difficulties. “Helping an individual discover that they can continue to have a meaningful life post-injury is incredible,” he says.
Photos in this piece were shot by Justin Hackworth.