St. David's HealthCare
September 12, 2023

AUSTIN, Texas—St. David’s HealthCare recently announced six Central Texas recipients of the HCA Healthcare Awards of Distinction. Each year, St. David’s HealthCare recognizes employees, physicians and volunteers for their commitment to serving others. These awards—which include the Frist Humanitarian Awards, the Innovators Award and the Excellence in Nursing Awards—are the highest honors given by HCA Healthcare, St. David’s HealthCare’s national hospital operating partner.

“Each of these caring and talented individuals contribute their time and talents to making a difference for our patients and our community,” David Huffstutler, president and chief executive officer of St. David’s HealthCare, said. “These award recipients exemplify the core values of St. David’s HealthCare, and we are pleased to honor each of them for their compassion and dedication to providing excellent care.”

The following individuals were named St. David’s HealthCare’s 2023 recipients of the Awards of Distinction and were recognized at a ceremony in Austin.

Carolyn Icard: Frist Humanitarian Award, volunteer recipient  

Carolyn Icard, a volunteer at St. David’s Medical Center for more than 10 years, has served in a number of volunteer positions, including an office aide, information desk receptionist and cuddler in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Having spent much of her volunteer time as a NICU cuddler, Icard provides therapeutic touch and comfort to support babies in the unit. She also helps train new volunteers at the hospital. 

Lissy Koyikalathu, RN, BSN: Frist Humanitarian Award, employee recipient

For 26 years, Lissy Koyikalathu has demonstrated immense care for patients at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center. She was previously recognized for her leadership at the hospital and was named Nurse of the Year, as well as Caregiver of the Year, multiple times throughout her career. Koyikalathu is committed to serving the Austin community, in addition to her home country of India, where she donates her time and resources to help people rebuild their homes after disasters. She also works to support patients and colleagues, offering assistance wherever she is needed and mentoring new nurses.

Joey Romero, M.D.: Frist Humanitarian Award, physician recipient

Dr. Joey Romero is a passionate orthopedic surgeon and vice chairman of the orthopedic department at St. David’s Medical Center. Most recently named as a 2023 Texas Super Doctors Rising Star by Texas Monthly and Super Doctors®, Dr. Romero mentors young surgeons and frequently participates in medical mission trips around the world. He recently traveled to El Salvador and collaborated with a team of surgeons to complete 53 joint replacements in four days.

Krista Hansen, RN, CMSRN: Excellence in Nursing Award, compassionate care recipient

Krista Hansen, a certified medical-surgical registered nurse, has worked at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center for more than 15 years and has served as a case manager for the past two and a half years. Prior to her case management position, she cared for patients in the medical-surgical unit, intermediate care unit and critical decision unit. With each of her patients, Hansen finds small details to help make their experiences more enjoyable. She is a leader and role model for other nurses at the facility and was previously named St. David’s South Austin Medical Center’s Caregiver of the Year. 

Sara Walters, RN: Excellence in Nursing Award, professional mentor recipient

Sara Walters has worked at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center for 12 years, and for the past seven years, she has focused on education, process development, and advocating for an environment of care and workflow improvement. She helped develop and grow the orientation experience for ambulatory and post-anesthesia care unit staff; improved procedures for evaluating and monitoring patients after surgery; and developed best practices for managing patients with malignant hyperthermia, a disease that can cause a fast rise in body temperature and severe muscle contractions when someone receives general anesthesia. Additionally, Walters holds drills to aid staff in learning new skills and improve current skills. 

Judy Kitchens: Innovators Award recipient

Judy Kitchens is a perinatal quality manager at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center. She developed and implemented a 16-point visual communication chart, which allows clinical and non-clinical staff to quickly assess the busy throughput of St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas. Kitchens is a certified healthcare simulation educator and a certified simulation operation specialist. She holds a patent for a simulated OB/GYN task trainer for which she constructed replica organs. 

Each of these individuals will be considered for HCA Healthcare’s enterprise-level awards. The division-level winners are entered into the judging for the enterprise-level awards, which will be announced during a special ceremony at HCA Healthcare’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee on Oct. 10, 2023.