AUSTIN—This month, St. David’s HealthCare recognized an employee, a physician and a volunteer as the healthcare system’s 2016 Frist Humanitarian Award recipients, putting the three Central Texans in the running for HCA’s (Hospital Corporation of America) national Frist Humanitarian Awards. This year, all three award recipients recognized by St. David’s HealthCare were from Heart Hospital of Austin.
The Frist Humanitarian Awards honor employees, physicians and volunteers at HCA-affiliated facilities across the country who demonstrate extraordinary concern for the welfare and happiness of patients and their communities. The awards are presented annually in recognition of the humanitarian spirit and philanthropic work of the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Sr., a founder of HCA.
“These individuals embody the characteristics and values of St. David’s HealthCare,” David Huffstutler, president and chief executive officer of St. David’s HealthCare, said. “I am pleased to honor each of our nominees for their compassion and generosity. They dedicate their time, talents and energy to making a difference in the lives of others in their local community and around the world.”
In the physician category, St. David’s HealthCare recognized John Oswalt, M.D., as the 2016 Frist Humanitarian Award winner.
John (“Chip”) Oswalt, M.D., has devoted his career to elevating the standard of care for cardiovascular health. Dr. Oswalt—a cardiothoracic surgeon who practices at Heart Hospital of Austin—received the Frist Humanitarian Award for his significant contributions to the health of children worldwide.
In 2000, Dr. Oswalt founded HeartGift, a nonprofit organization that provides lifesaving heart surgery to children from around the world where local specialized medical treatment is either scarce or nonexistent. The organization established a systematic process for children worldwide born with heart defects to be identified, evaluated and transported to Austin, where they receive a “HeartGift” from a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon.
In addition to free surgical intervention, HeartGift provides a child and his or her parent a home and around-the-clock care by a host family, dental services, language interpretation services, transportation, cardiology consultations and anything else needed during the child’s stay in the U.S.
In recent years, HeartGift has grown by adding chapters in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans. To date, HeartGift has provided services to more than 300 children from 34 countries.
Nominees in the physician category included: Carla Laos, M.D., St. David’s Children’s Hospital at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center; Emily Van Beveren, M.D., St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center; Rick Solis, M.D., St. David’s South Austin Medical Center; Michael Henderson, M.D., St. David’s Georgetown Hospital; and Thomas Hill, M.D., St. David’s Medical Center.
In the employee category, St. David’s HealthCare recognized Shannon Ede as the 2016 Frist Humanitarian Award winner.
Shannon Ede is a registered nurse in the Executive Wellness department at Heart Hospital of Austin. She was recognized in the employee category for her full life of compassionate care and charitable work.
The indigent, elderly, young, sick, hungry and those in spiritual need have been touched by Ede’s warmth and acts of kindness. When she is not caring for patients at Heart Hospital of Austin, she is busy volunteering her nursing services to indigent and under-insured patients at the Sacred Heart Community Clinic, assisting international students through the Bridges International Student Organization and planning meals for children in public housing with the Mount Nebo organization.
Shannon’s eldest son was diagnosed with leukemia at age 11 and received a bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Although he is now an adult, and his cancer is in complete remission, Shannon has continued her relationship with the hospital and serves as a pediatric caregiver support team member.
Locally, Shannon volunteers for the Jennifer Wilks Foundation, an organization designed to fight pediatric cancer.
Nominees in the employee category included: Jane Townsend, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center; Eugene Martir, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center; Nina Samaniego, St. David’s South Austin Medical Center; Loretta Carruthers, St. David’s Georgetown Hospital; Sandra Gomez, St. David’s Medical Center; and April Watkins, St. David’s HealthCare.
In the volunteer category, St. David’s HealthCare recognized Aesha Patel as the 2016 Frist Humanitarian Award winner.
Aesha Patel is a volunteer at Heart Hospital of Austin and a pre-med student at The University of Texas at Austin who makes a consistent effort to impact others in her free time. In addition to volunteering at Heart Hospital of Austin, Patel works for an annual charity concert called Ekal Vidyalaya, which raises money for schools in India. Locally, she is involved with Hindu Charities of America and has raised money for underprivileged schools in the Austin area.
Patel also volunteers with Hearthstone Health Center, where she assists and engages with the elderly. On a weekly basis, she spends several hours reading books, conversing and playing games with residents, as well as helping them train for the senior Olympics.
One recent summer, Aesha volunteered at the Bicske Refugee Camp in Budapest, Hungary, where she taught English language classes, public health, Tae Kwon Do and dance. Each day she would teach three sessions of English to help refugee families communicate at the doctor’s office, grocery store or other public places.
Nominees in the volunteer category included: Paul Wood, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center; Michelle Grinnell, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center; Diane Howell, St. David’s South Austin Medical Center; Ray Young, St. David’s Georgetown Hospital; and Seth Innis, St. David’s Medical Center.
St. David’s HealthCare’s three winners will be nominated for HCA’s National Frist Humanitarian Award. The winners of the national award will be announced in May.
St. David’s HealthCare
With more than 110 sites across Central Texas, St. David’s HealthCare includes seven of the area’s leading hospitals and is one of the largest health systems in Texas. The organization was recognized with a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence—in 2014. St. David’s HealthCare is the third-largest private employer in the Austin area, with more than 9,000 employees.
St. David’s HealthCare is a unique partnership between a hospital management company and two local non-profits—St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation. The proceeds from the operations of the hospitals fund the foundations, which, in turn, invest those dollars back into the community. Since the inception of St. David’s HealthCare in 1996, more than $379 million have been given back to the community to improve the health and healthcare of people in Central Texas.