Individuals and businesses honored in our fifth annual Healthcare Achievement Awards have worked to make care more accessible in central Ohio.

Your company may not be in the healthcare business, but it's likely no more than an arm's length removed. After all, if your employees aren't healthy, they're not going to be doing much work, or at least not operating at optimum levels.

We all depend on having access to good healthcare—no matter our circumstances. And we all hope to work in environments that promote good health with decent shelter and safety, available employment and transportation, and healthy food options.

Health status is such an important component of what makes for a good business environment, it makes sense for a business magazine to recognize those who are working to create a heathier community.

In 2017, Columbus CEO is proud to recognize six winners and nine finalists for our fifth annual Healthcare Achievement Awards in six categories.

Congratulations to all our winners and finalists. Their work makes central Ohio a healthier place for all of us! —Mary Yost

Healthcare Trailblazer: Bill Hardy, President and CEO, Equitas Health

Behind the list of benefactors on the smoked-glass wall of a well-appointed patient waiting room, Equitas Health still has the heart of the grassroots social-services agencies that Ohio's LGBT activists started during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

President and CEO Bill Hardy runs an organization whose annual budget has grown in the last five years from $6 million to $60 million, whose staff has expanded from 70 to 235, and whose mission has evolved from helping HIV-positive people connect with medical treatment into providing care directly for the entire LGBT community.

Since April 2016, when Equitas Health changed its name from AIDS Resource Center Ohio—and dropped the disease from its name for the first time—the organization has been a primary care provider for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who often avoid doctors because they feel stereotyped, judged or worse.

But Hardy says its roots in an era when HIV/AIDS and LGBT activism were closely linked will always influence his agency.

“We're strongly human rights-focused as an organization,” Hardy says. “We believe that healthcare is a basic human right. We believe that part and parcel of that is all the ‘isms' that we need to address: sexism, racism, homophobia.”

Hardy has shepherded the not-for-profit's growth since he started with Dayton's AIDS Foundation Miami Valley in 1993. Dayton and Toledo HIV/AIDS services groups merged to form AIDS Resource Center Ohio, which united in 2011 with the Columbus AIDS Task Force. Equitas Health now runs full-service medical centers in Columbus' Short North and Dayton's downtown, and it plans to open another center in April in Columbus' King-Lincoln District on the Near East Side.

The organization also offers HIV testing, support services, counseling, and social and support groups in Akron, Athens, Canton, Lima, Mansfield, Newark, Portsmouth and Toledo.

Hardy remembers the days when an HIV-positive diagnosis usually meant death within 18 months. People would show up at local agencies with all their possessions because their families kicked them out.

HIV isn't a death sentence anymore. Drugs help HIV-positive patients live normal lifespans, and federal policy emphasizes “treatment as prevention,” because medication can reduce levels of the virus in a person's body so much that it can't be passed on.

ARC Ohio and now Equitas Health have been highly successful in getting HIV-positive Ohioans on antiretroviral drugs. More than 90 percent of patients have been prescribed medications, compared to just 37 percent nationwide, and 87 percent are considered virally suppressed. Nationally, just 30 percent of HIV-positive people have achieved viral suppression.

That success led Hardy to see a different future for his organization than administering HIV tests, connecting people with doctors and social services, and passing out condoms.

“I don't tend to paint things in black and white, but I said to our board: ‘I think we have two options moving forward,'” Hardy recalls from a 2011 meeting right after ARC Ohio's merger with the Columbus AIDS Task Force. “I said, ‘Either think of an exit strategy to close our doors because we'll no longer be relevant, or begin providing medical care, because that is where the science and the National HIV Strategy are telling us we need to go.”

ARC Ohio opened its Short North Medical Center in September 2012 as a medical home for HIV-positive patients. The center offers primary care and includes a pharmacy that acts as a social enterprise to fund its operations. The door to primary care for those without HIV opened in 2014, when the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged doctors to prescribe a medication commonly used to treat HIV-positive patients as a preventive measure for some who are HIV-negative.

The drug has become known as PrEP, shorthand for its use as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, and Equitas Health was an early advocate. Because PrEP requires regular medical appointments for HIV, kidney and liver tests, the organization began taking HIV-negative patients for the first time.

The Short North Medical Center hit its one-year patient enrollment goals just five months after its 2012 opening. More than 500 PrEP patients had enrolled by the end of 2015.

With the change in name last year, Equitas Health jumped into primary care.

Despite victories on the civil rights front, LGBT people still can feel uneasy at the doctor's office, Hardy says. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported in 2016 that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual people said they've had encounters with health professionals that ranged from harsh language to being denied care altogether. Seven in 10 transgender respondents reported similarly negative experiences.

Lori Gum, program coordinator for Stonewall Columbus, has served as a certified application counselor under the Affordable Care Act, helping enroll LGBT residents of central Ohio in the health insurance marketplace. The law has been especially helpful for transgender people.

“But once we managed to get them healthcare coverage … we had nowhere to send them in Columbus for LGBTQ culturally competent and compassionate care. It was highly discouraging,” Gum says. “That is why we were all so excited to see Equitas come along. Finally, our LGBTQ community will get the healthcare that we deserve. And for many of us, that comes along with a very big sigh of relief.”

Since expanding into primary care, Hardy says, Equitas Health has welcomed about five new transgender patients weekly. By providing a welcoming medical home, the provider hopes to have an impact beyond people's physical health, he says. “It's mental health, it's social health, it's interpersonal health, it's health about our place in the world at large.”

It's a new twist on the longtime mission.

“I came to this because in the '90s people all around me were impacted by HIV. I said I would do this until I thought I couldn't make a difference anymore or until I got bored. Neither of those things has happened yet.”

“We're strongly human-rights focused as an organization. ... We believe that part and parcel of that is all the ‘isms' that we need to address: sexism, racism, homophobia.”

Healthcare Trailblazer Finalists:

Riverside Radiology & Interventional Associates

Peter Pema, MD,Ronald Budzik, MD, and Thomas Davis, MD

When the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association updated its national stroke-treatment guidelines in 2015, Drs.Peter Pema, Ronald Budzik and Thomas Davis already had been employing the newly recommended protocols for 15 years. At Riverside Radiology & Interventional Associates, they've built a cutting-edge practice in neurointerventional radiology, which uses X-ray guidance to insert clot-retrieving devices or deliver clot-busting drugs directly to the site of a blockage in stroke patients.

They helped in the design and developmentof OhioHealth's Neuroscience Center, a 224-bed facility at Riverside Methodist Hospital that opened in 2015. They also helped gain its designation from the AHA/ASA as Ohio's first Comprehensive Stroke Center.

“Ron, Peter and Tom dedicated countless hours and sacrificed both their personal and professional time in order to create something extremely unique that is certainly a national model for other stroke centers across the country, and even on a global scale,” writes Geoffrey Eubank, MD, OhioHealth's neurology chief.

Premier Allergy

Summit Shah, MD

Allergies or allergy shots: Which is worse?

The latter has become a much more attractive option to central Ohio sufferers thanks to Premier Allergy's use of a treatment called rush immunotherapy. It condenses the dosage given over the course of a traditional 50-shot, yearlong treatment into four to six shots in one day.

The FDA-approved treatment, which promises longer-term relief for patients, has helped Summit Shah, MD, expand the allergy and asthma clinic he founded in 2010 to 10 locations in central Ohio.

In addition to his private practice, Shah founded the allergy department at the Chalmers P. Wylie Ambulatory Care Center, run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs in Columbus. He remains on its staff.

Executive of the Year: John Johnson, MD, President and CEO, Access Ohio

As a psychiatrist who treats patients with addictions and mental illness, John Johnson sees the potential that lies ahead for people, not their current condition.

He looks at business the same way, too.

More than a decade ago, Johnson saw few others in his field willing to accept some of the patients who were in the most dire need of their help: people who not only were ill but also were battling substance abuse, enduring homelessness and battling other problems. Medicaid reimbursement was poor, and their mere presence in a practice sometimes disturbed other patients.

“You want to send them out to the community, and no one would take them. … This crowd doesn't fit in well with the general milieu of a clinic,” he says.

“Somebody said, ‘If you are that keen, maybe you should do something about it.' So I said, ‘OK. I'm a very pragmatic person.' I said, ‘Why would I leave that to the other people to solve it? Maybe I should do something about it.'”

Since Johnson opened his first Access Ohio Mental Health Center of Excellence in 2006, he has expanded to five locations in Columbus and Dayton. The centers provide diagnostic and treatment services exclusively for patients on Medicaid.

In 2011, he opened Access Hospital Dayton, a 110-bed psychiatric hospital on the site of the former Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare facility in Dayton. The Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services had closed the hospital as a cost-savings measure in 2008.

His businesses employ 33 psychiatrists and more than 400 total staff, and they generate more than $20 million annually. He estimates they have treated about 30,000 people.

Johnson, who was born and educated in India, came to the United States in 1993 after working in his native country, England and Ireland.

“When I came to the US, I realized unlike Europe or at that time in India, this is a place where healthcare needs to be run like a business,” he says. He quickly began working on an MBA at Ohio University while running a private practice and serving as a staff psychiatrist for Six County Inc., a private, not-for-profit mental health services provider based in Zanesville.

Not that his business was successful from the start. “For the first few years I lost money, but I knew I was building something for the long term,” he says. Look for more growth from Access Ohio in the coming months. Johnson says he's negotiating the purchase of two more practices.

Johnson is treating people who used to fall through the cracks of the healthcare system and social services network. People with chronic mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder die 20 years earlier than the rest of the population, he says. That's because they're more likely to be homeless, more likely dealing with addiction, more likely to smoke, and more likely to suffer from other conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure.

In the population he serves, “It is very hard for somebody to remember… to take their medication three times a day without forgetting for a month or a year. They need much more support,” Johnson says. “There are a lot of barriers, things that we take for granted.”

And there are bureaucratic barriers as well. In central Ohio, Johnson has been part of a partnership that runs the Community Shelter Board's Navigator Program, which gets people into permanent housing and surrounds them with the support they need to stay off the streets. Its key is connecting clients with one caseworker—a navigator—who works with the client from the moment he or she enters a shelter and stays in contact even after the person's life has stabilized.

The program, supported by the city of Columbus and Franklin County, was part of a system redesign three years ago, says Community Shelter Board Executive Director Michelle Heritage.

“They took on a new program with all that entails,” Heritage says. “I really appreciate the desire to innovate and the desire to hang in there.”

Johnson says that's part of his philosophy.

“When everybody sees challenges, I see the potential,” he says. “When people discourage me … I see a little further around the curve.”

Executive of the Year Finalists

Marcia Flaherty, CEO, Riverside Radiology & Interventional Associates

Marcia Flaherty has achieved a rare trifecta in healthcare: satisfied patients, happy employees and a healthy bottom line.

In 17 years as CEO of Riverside Radiology & Interventional Associates, the biggest radiology practice in Ohio, she has weathered an era of huge change in the field and come out on top. Turnaround times for medical imaging reports exceed industry standards, satisfaction scores are high among patients and referring physicians, andModern Healthcare magazine has named the practice a Best Place to Work.

Flaherty has spearheaded the creation of new entities to handle medical billing, IT support, human resources and other functions. She also is a member of the operations team for Strategic Radiology, a consortium of 26 large radiology practices from Connecticut to California that shares best practices and operational efficiencies.

Peggy Anderson, COO, Equitas Health

She started as a social-work intern for the Columbus AIDS Task Force, and Peggy Anderson has grown along with the organization.

The task force merged in 2011 with Dayton- and Toledo-based HIV/AIDS services agencies and became AIDS Resource Center Ohio. The nonprofit expanded its mission last year into primary care for LGBT patients. It's now Equitas Health.

Anderson has been chief operating officer since 2011, a time in which Equitas Health has grown from 70 staff to 235 and its budget from $6 million to $60 million. CEO Bill Hardy credits her as instrumental in the creation of Equitas Health's medical centers and pharmacies.

Lifetime Achievement: Charles Cataline, Vice President of Health Economics and Policy, retired, Ohio Hospital Association

A Provider Reimbursement Manual from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services includes payment policies on everything from organ transplants to patient parking in more than 6,000 pages.

By the time he retired in December after 36 years as what one colleague calls “the voice of hospital finances and billing,” Charles Catalinebecame the go-to person for more than just Ohio Hospital Association members seeking help deciphering the complex web of state and federal healthcare policy.

People in Columbus and Washington who make policies on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, hospital billing procedures, and other financial matters also turned for guidance to the OHA vice president of health economics and policy.

“When I first started at OHA, things were very much simpler,” Cataline says. “It's developed into so complex a process I almost pity the person who's just coming into this field. I don't know how someone who's new to our industry could be able to manage.”

It's not a field Cataline planned to enter when he earned a bachelor's degree in social work from Ohio State University in 1974. He went to work for Mount Carmel Health's patient financial services department until joining the hospital association in 1980.

While an entire field of expertise grew around him—he marvels that one can earn a degree today in medical billing and coding—Cataline described his own education as finance courses and “on-the-job training.”

And over the course of his career, he passed his knowledge on to countless hospital executives and finance officers, government officials and lawmakers, boosting the influence of the 220-member Ohio Hospital Association in the process. He was part of a national committee that established a uniform national billing data set for healthcare providers. He also served on a national policy advisory group for the federal CMS.

“Charles is a devoted and respected leader in the world of healthcare finance,” says Ryan Biles, the association's senior vice president of health economics and policy. “His contributions extend far beyond Ohio hospitals and into the communities they serve. He has earned the admiration of his peers and colleagues throughout the country during his career.”

Cataline, however, deflects such praise. On federal officials seeking his insight, he says: “They were great enough to come to us to ask, ‘What does this mean? How will you be affected?'” On the combined clout of the hospital association, he adds: “We have some enormously talented finance officers at Ohio hospitals.”

“I never knew everything; no one could ever know,” he says. “I didn't realize the influence I had on some of the folks I worked with until I decided to retire. But I took as much from them as I gave.”

Among Cataline's lasting contributions came when Ohio hospitals—overwhelmingly nonprofit operations—faced a challenge to their tax-exempt status a decade ago. He worked with OHA members and colleagues to develop an annual report detailing hospitals' charity care, educational efforts, wellness programs and other contributions that benefit their communities. The reports are now done annually and housed at the Ohio Department of Health for public inspection.

It's a “story behind the numbers” that opened the eyes even of hospital executives, he says. “And it really has educated policymakers on the depth of everything hospitals do in their communities.”

Just a few months after his retirement, Cataline already has gotten over the ability to sleep in and set his own schedule. He has now begun thinking about the next chapter. “I have a unique opportunity in a way,” he says, referring to his 36 years of insight into a field that only promises to get more complicated with a new administration overseeing— and promising to overhaul—federal healthcare policy.

“On the other hand,” he adds, “I was told that the best way to grow old gracefully after retirement is to not do what you did.”

Lifetime Achievement Finalists:

Michael Para, MD, Medical Director, Equitas Health

Michael Para has been on the front lines of the fight against HIV/AIDS since he started his career in infectious diseases just as the virus was discovered in 1981.

Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center is one of 30 sites nationwide that carries out federally funded research into the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and Para is its co-principal investigator. He's also a professor of internal medicine and associate dean for clinical research in OSU's College of Medicine.

Para serves as medical director for Equitas Health as well.

In addition to his work in research and treatment of the disease, Para advises the Ohio Department of Health's HIV Drug Assistance Program. He has been honored both for his medical and humanitarian work.

Mike Gire, Lawyer, Bricker & Eckler

The healthcare team that Mike Gire began 40 years ago at the Columbus-based Bricker & Eckler law firm now represents two-thirds of Ohio's hospitals and has clients in 35 states. Gire himself has been involved in more than 75 hospital mergers or creations of local health networks.

Gire was involved in creation of the OhioHealth system, which was known as U.S. Health when it started at Riverside Methodist Hospital. He helped OhioHealth merge Columbus' Grant Medical Center into its system. And he was involved as OhioHealth expanded into Marion, Mansfield, Athens and Portsmouth.

“He is so much more than a lawyer when he acts in these settings,” writes OhioHealth President and CEO David Blom. “He really is a businessman with legal expertise.”

“(Healthcare billing and finance) has developed into so complex a process I almost pity the person who's just coming into this field. ”

Practitioner of the Year: Richard Marger, MD, Medical Director, OhioHealth's Wellness on Wheels

Richard Marger knows the effort it takes for some people to get to a doctor's office. At his obstetrics and gynecology practice in Pickerington, he has seen patients still waiting for a bus home at 4:30 p.m., when their appointment with him was at 1.

It's the reason he doesn't cancel appointments if a patient shows up late. “If someone is that committed, to take a bus and then catch another bus to see you, if they're an hour late, how can you say no?”

It's also the reason Marger signed on 17 years ago as a doctor with Wellness on Wheels, a mobile medical office run by OhioHealth that takes prenatal care on the road with stops each week in Columbus' Franklinton and Northland areas, as well as the city's Near East, East and South sides. He has been the program's medical director since 2004.

Not everyone is motivated enough—or even able—to go through much effort to see a doctor, so Wellness on Wheels takes care to those who need it. It's equipped with exam rooms, an ultrasound, computers, video screens and an office for one-on-one meetings with social workers. It's plugged in, literally, to the communities it serves; on a Tuesday morning in late January, a power cord ran from the tractor-trailer's spot on Ann Street to the power supply at South High School.

Consider it all an 18-wheel effort to address dismal infant mortality statistics in Ohio and Columbus. The state's 2015 rate of 7.2 deaths for every 1,000 live births was worse than Russia, Cuba, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Franklin County's rate of 7.6 infant deaths per 1,000 births was the same as Arkansas and worse than West Virginia.

Infant mortality—the death of a child before his or her first birthday—is more than twice the local and state rates among African-Americans in Ohio, and among all underserved populations, it's triple. OhioHealth says Wellness on Wheels has brought infant mortality rates among its traditionally underserved patients down to 5.2 deaths per 1,000, a rate that's lower than the national target set by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Marger says it's done through a combination of good care, early intervention and appropriate referrals to a team that includes cardiologists, neurologists and endocrinologists. But it's not just medical care: The team also includes dieticians and social workers.

If a patient's heat gets turned off, someone will help her get it back on. If a patient doesn't have food at home, someone will help her get some. The problem of infant mortality isn't just an issue of access to care, Marger says, but it's also affected by lifestyle and environment.

“Unfortunately, it's all of the above,” he concludes after ticking off a list of factors that also includes smoking and addiction. “And it falls apart without addressing any one piece.”

Marger is a pretty indispensable part of the effort, too, colleagues say. He leverages his private practice to bring in additional help for Wellness on Wheels. He has added new services such as early screening for gestational diabetes, and he has brought in a nurse practitioner who focuses on women's sexual and reproductive health.

“Bad weather, challenges and barriers—they do not impact him,” says Sonia Booker, the clinical manager for Wellness on Wheels who has worked with Marger for 12 years. “He is tireless in his efforts and truly a selfless person. There have been many instances where he has been up all night delivering babies and yet, that next morning, he will come to (Wellness on Wheels) … to help care for our patients.”

Wellness on Wheels sees about 60 to 75 patients weekly, and patients give birth to about 250 to 300 babies a year, Marger says. All patients are referred to doctors to continue their care. Nurses on the mobile unit call women afterward to make sure they're doing well.

Here's one of Marger's favorite follow-up reports: A former patient who gave birth about five years ago now works as a nurse for Wellness on Wheels. She was a hairdresser at the time but was inspired toenter the healthcare field.

“Seventeen years later, I see more positive than negative,” Marger says of work to address infant mortality. “There's still a lot more to be done … But if we don't try to do something different, you fail by definition. You've got to do something.”

Practitioner of the Year Finalist:

Mimi Rivard, Nurse Practitioner, Equitas Health

Mimi Rivard is such an advocate for the use of an HIV-prevention regimen known as PrEP, she once took to Twitter to urge the producers of the Fox TV series, “Empire,” to write it into the storyline of a gay character.

Closer to home, the nurse practitioner for Equitas Health has been much more successful in her efforts to champion use of the once-daily pill that has proven highly effective in preventing HIV transmission. More than 430 people in central Ohio have been prescribed PrEP through Equitas Health, which is the largest provider of PrEP services in the state.

Rivard has been involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS for more than 25 years. In addition to her work locally, she also has helped health officials develop care protocols in developing countries including Namibia, Swaziland and Liberia.

Volunteer of the Year: John Ridge,HIV Testing/Safe Point Volunteer,Equitas Health

John Ridge has found a new calling through his volunteer work with Equitas Health.

In his day job, the Grandview Heights resident works with “tons of numbers, tons of data” as director of a local call center. But for 20 or more hours every month—five each Saturday and another few during the week—he works with people who need a little kindness, some understanding, maybe just a smile at a moment that leaves many feeling quite vulnerable.

“It's personalized,” he says of the gratification that comes from volunteering with Equitas Health's HIV testing efforts and its one-year-old HIV- and Hepatitis C-prevention program that provides clean syringes to users of heroin, methamphetamine and other intravenous drugs. “It's one-on-one.”

Since 2013, when he first sought testing at what was then known as AIDS Resource Center Ohio, Ridge has given back to the agency and the communities it serves.

“I think what keeps me coming back is the empathy and understanding I received when I first used Equitas' services, so I want to live up to that standard,” he says.

Ridge first helped at Equitas Health's Art for Life fundraiser, a glamorous, every-other-year art auction. He then sought more of a challenge. The agency offers free, 20-minute, walk-in HIV testing four days a week at its medical center in the Short North and a clinic in Clintonville. Volunteer manager Ashley McIntosh says dozens of volunteers do everything from greeting people at the door to delivering their test results.

“The idea of stepping on the other side of the table: I never had that much exposure to it before,” Ridge says.

In his five weekly hours with the Equitas Health needle-exchange program known as Safe Point, Ridge began behind the scenes, gathering the new syringes, sharps containers, cotton balls and other supplies for clients as they spoke with other about their health and other matters. He's now one of the people clients speak with on Saturday mornings at the Short North Medical Center.

Safe Point also operates on Tuesdays at the medical center and on Fridays at Southeast Inc. in Franklinton.

In order for the program to work—its goal, beyond preventing infectious diseases among drug users, is to connect them with treatment if and when they're ready—volunteer intervention specialists must build trust with the people they meet, McIntosh says.

“John makes participants feel safe and comfortable and thus more willing to seek treatment and take steps to reduce their risk of HIV, Hepatitis C, overdose and other medical emergencies,” she says.

Ridge's mother was a 50-year smoker who tried to quit many times, he says. In his volunteer work, he says he seeks a balance between being nonjudgmental and being supportive when someone expresses a desire for treatment.

“You have to encourage them if they're moving in that direction,” he says. “It's a challenge. People don't tell their spouses, their kids, their parents.”

Ridge greets people with a handshake and a smile, he says, and he looks them in the eye. He introduces himself and asks for their name, which they sometimes won't give. But he understands why.

“To step into another person's shoes and see a situation from their perspective is a challenge that's there with each program participant. ... But that challenge to make a connection, establish that we're working together on this situation, and get them the help they need is my way of honoring the Equitas people that helped me.”

Pathway to Population Health: Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families - Nationwide Children's Hospital

As Downtown Columbus yields to the city's South Side at Parsons and Livingston avenues, it's impossible to miss the impact of what eventually will total more than $1.5 billion in additions and improvements at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

A new 12-story hospital building that opened in 2012 sits at the back of a six-acre front lawn. More projects announced last summer include a research building and offices. Improved streets and new retail spaces radiate outward.

But if you venture off the main arteries around the hospital, you'll see the transformation doesn't stop at one city intersection. An eight-year-old program aimed at improving the housing, health, education, employment prospects and safety of the surrounding neighborhood has resulted in progress that can be felt as well as seen.

Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families, announced in late 2008 by Children's CEO Steve Allen and then-Mayor Michael Coleman, has done much of what it set out to do:

• 71 homes were renovated, then sold or rented, through the end of 2016 in an area stretching from Livingston Avenue south to Kossuth Street and from Parsons Avenue east to 22nd Street.

• 15 new homes were built and sold on previously vacant lots.

• 149 homeowners were given an average of about $13,000 in grants to make improvements that included new roofs, windows or siding.

Mayor Andrew Ginther has called the program “impressive” and “a representation of the positive transformation possible through the commitment and actions of many partners in the community.”

In all, the investment just in housing in the neighborhood known as Southern Orchards totals more than $18 million, according to Angela Mingo, Nationwide Children's Hospital's community relations coordinator. But the program offers more than housing.

The hospital and partners that include the United Way of Central Ohio and the South Side group Community Development for All People supported the addition of four new Community Crime Patrol members in the neighborhood to address safety issues. Neighborhood residents also have created a block watch program.

Children's Hospital nurse practitioners and behavioral health specialists are helping nurses at 13 Columbus City Schools buildings on the South Side, and mobile care units take primary care to children. A community garden—ambitiously called an “urban forest” because it will include fruit trees—will sprout this spring on Carpenter Avenue to help families grow their own fresh produce.

Visits to the homes of preschool children, in which they're given books, lessons and school supplies, have boosted kindergarten readiness scores by 50 percent.

More than 50 Children's employees also serve as mentors for neighborhood kids.

And finally, a 58-unit apartment complex whose first residents will move in come spring will offer on-site career-development help designed to prepare people for jobs at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Job-training efforts already resulted in 175 neighborhood residents being hired at the hospital in 2015.

“There was a conscious decision by hospital leadership,” Mingo says of the inception of Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families. “We wanted to be a source of excellence in pediatric care but also a catalyst for revitalization on the South Side. ... We felt like we needed to play a role in the neighborhood.”

While more than 450 residents of the neighborhood covered by the program are Children's employees, Mingo said the effort has not been a ploy to gentrify the area around the hospital. She calls the area a mixed-income neighborhood, and the new and rehabilitated homes also have provided opportunities for renters to become homeowners.

For LaQuita Long, a one-story ranch home on Carpenter Street offered the chance for so much more. It's not only the first house the mother of two has owned, it was custom built to accommodate her 11-year-old daughter, Zeza, who lives with cerebral palsy. The home has hallways that are wide enough for Zeza's wheelchair, light switches that are low enough for her to reach, and a ramp that accommodates her coming and going. It's also a quick walk to the hospital where Zeza still receives care.

“We really are blessed,” Long says. “We're just all comfortable.”

One of the Healthcare Achievement Awards judges comments that this project is an “outstanding example of a comprehensive population health approach!”

Pathway to Population Health Finalists 

Equitas Health

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed the health of gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans for the first time in 2013. It found higher incidence of conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, greater numbers of smokers and heavy drinkers, and a smaller percentage of people who had seen a doctor in the past year or even had a doctor to go to.

Founded as separate HIV/AIDS services agencies in Columbus, Dayton and Toledo during the 1980s, Equitas Health in 2016 completed its evolution into a full-fledged health network aimed at delivering culturally competent care to LGBT Ohioans, including those with HIV/AIDS.

Among its successes: 91 percent of HIV-positive Equitas Health patients are receiving antiretroviral drugs, and 87 percent have viral loads that are so low they're considered undetectable. Viral suppression, as it's called, greatly reduces a person's risk of passing on the virus. The national averages for those categories are 37 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Make Safe Happen, Nationwide Insurance

Preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among American children, and half of those accidents—suffocations, drownings, fires, poisonings—occur in the home. But when Nationwide surveyed American parents in 2015, it found that 94 percent believe the home is the safest place a child can be.

With partners that include Nationwide Children's Hospital of Columbus, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Ad Council, the Columbus-based insurance company launched Make Safe Happen in 2015. It's an educational effort that includes a mobile app, website and other guides full of safety tips and valuable information for families.

The app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times, and its users report completing suggested safety tasks more than 140,000 times.

The 2017 Healthcare Achievement Awards could not have been presented without the help of nine judges with healthcare backgrounds who agreed to review and rate nominations in six categories.

Working in groups of three, the judges score nominations based on specific criteria for each category. Accumulated results determine winners and finalists.

With thanks for their invaluable service, Columbus CEO is proud to partner with these judges:

2017 Judges: 

David Blom, president and CEO of OhioHealth. Blom was also Executive of the Year in our 2014 Healthcare Achievement Awards.

Patricia Gabbe, MD, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University. She is also founder and director of Moms2B Ohio and won the Rising Above award, one of Columbus CEO's first healthcare recognitions in 2013.

Reed Fraley, chief operating officer of Primary One Health, formerly known as Columbus Neighborhood Health Center. Fraley previously served as senior vice president of the Ohio Hospital Association and as CEO of the Ohio State University Health System.

Barb Galantowicz, MD, medical director of Flying Horse Farms, a free camp in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, for children with serious illness. She was the 2016 Healthcare Trailblazer award winner.

Bridget Gargan, executive director, Ohio Association of County Boards Serving People with Developmental Disabilities. She is a former vice president of government affairs for the Ohio Hospital Association.

Amy Rohling McGee, president of the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, a nonprofit that provides healthcare analysis and information targeted for state policymakers. She previously was executive director of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics.

Brent Mulgrew, recently retired executive director of the Ohio State Medical Association. He was the 2016 Lifetime Achievement winner in our Healthcare Achievement Awards.

David Sabgir, MD, a cardiologist withMount Carmel Clinical Cardiovascular Specialists St. Ann's, founder and CEO of Walk with a Doc and 2016 Pathway to Population Health award winner.

Richard Vincent, president and CEO of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations. Vincent was previously president and CEO of Doctors Hospitals and was a finalist for the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.