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As published in Toledo Business Journal - July 1, 2011

Healthcare Heroes

2011 Healthcare Heroes recognized

The healthcare profession is one where acts of heroism often go unnoticed, because they happen every day. Healthcare Heroes do not act for praise, recognition, or job advancement. Indeed, their stories are not always picked up by the local media or communicated outside of their organizations. Rather, Healthcare Heroes are motivated by a desire to make a difference in the lives they touch.

Healthcare Heroes was launched in 2008 to recognize the extraordinary impact that exceptional healthcare professionals have on the healthcare industry and on the quality of life in their communities.

The Third Annual Healthcare Heroes Recognition Ceremony, held on June 29, 2011 at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion, recognizes the extraordinary contributions healthcare makes to the quality of life in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Each honoree has received an award for the honor.

Healthcare Heroes has honored 55 candidates and five recipients this year, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. To qualify for the Lifetime Achievement Award, a healthcare leader must have left a mark on healthcare through a career (of at least 25 years) of heroic acts, compassion, honor, and integrity that have helped to put our region at the forefront of healthcare.

The Healthcare Heroes exemplify the contributions healthcare makes to the region.

A hero is usually an ordinary person doing extraordinary things, distinguished for his or her courage or ability. They may also be someone who is a model for others that has performed a heroic deed and/or tirelessly given of his/her time, talent, and expertise to improve health.

A Healthcare Hero could be a physician, nurse, allied health professional, researcher, administrator, educator, or caregiver that has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Healthcare Heroes should demonstrate honesty, integrity, humility, courage, and commitment.

For example, a Healthcare Hero may be a healthcare professional who exemplifies extraordinary quality and compassionate patient care; is breaking new ground in the healthcare arena through a new advancement, improvement of efficiencies, or through a new initiative; is providing research and is on the cutting edge of clinical research to ultimately improve patient care; is an accomplished healthcare educator that is inspiring the next generation of healthcare providers; is a healthcare leader who exceeds all expectations when it comes to influencing growth and development of healthcare to meet the needs of the community; or is a healthcare provider making a meaningful contribution to community health improvement, including but not limited to increasing access to healthcare for the low income uninsured.

Sponsors for this year’s event include: The Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio; Gordon Food Service; Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP; Hylant Group; and Gilmore, Jasion & Mahler, LTD. Toledo Business Journal is the media partner and Kristian Brown, 13ABC, is the host and emcee for the event.

Imran Andrabi, M.D., ABFM, FAAFP, CMCM

Frank Barone, MD, FACS

Irene Brooks, RN, M.Ed, CDE

Lawrence W. Elmer, M.D., PhD

Ann Locher, MSN, RN, ACRN

Imran Andrabi, M.D., ABFM, FAAFP, CMCM

Imran Andrabi, M.D., ABFM, FAAFP, CMCM
President & CEO
Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center

Imran Andrabi, M.D., ABFM, FAAFP, CMCM, has learned and felt what it’s like to experience a health aliment from not only a patient’s perspective, but also from the point of view of a family and community. At the age of 11, he watched his ten-year-old sister struggle with cancer. Having to deal with such a tragedy at a young age motivated Andrabi to pursue a career in healthcare. He currently is the president and CEO of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

Andrabi earned a B.S. in anatomy and physiology from University of the Punjab in Pakistan in 1988. He continued his education, earning a bachelor of medicine and a bachelor of surgery from King Edward Medical College in 1990. He is board certified from the American Board of Family Practice and is licensed to practice in Ohio and Michigan. He also sits on the Mercy Children’s Hospital Advisory Board and the Mercy Health System PHO Board of Trustees.

As the chief academic officer for Mercy for almost nine years, from 2002 to 2010, one of his greatest accomplishments was being on the forefront of educating the next generation of physicians and having the opportunity to excel in creating nationally recognized residency training programs for Mercy doctors. Another one of Andrabi’s greatest accomplishments has been the creation and implementation of a program called “Patients First, Journey to Zero.” The program involves putting patients first and reducing unnecessary waste, wait, defects, and errors that do not create any value for the hospital’s caregivers or patients. It has attracted healthcare leaders from across the country to come to Toledo and learn about the innovation.

Employed with Mercy for almost 20 years, Andrabi has served as the interim CEO and the senior vice president for operational transformation and as the chief academic officer. In this time, Andrabi has been nominated for the Excellence in Medical Education award twice. He has received various Who’s Who awards in medicine and healthcare, science and engineering, and finance and industry.

As a family physician, Andrabi has practiced in the central city / downtown area and has cared for patients at his private office and emergency rooms. As the president of St. Vincent he continues to emphasize providing these services to the poor and underprivileged. Additionally, Andrabi actively participates in the Cherry Street Legacy project, a revitalization of the area around Cherry Street that will ensure safety and security for community members.

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Frank Barone, MD, FACS

Frank Barone, MD, FACS
M.D., Plastic Surgery
Operation Smile

Frank Barone, M.D., FACS chose to pursue a career in healthcare because he wanted a challenge. Looking even further, he chose plastic surgery because of the difficulty involved with blending art and science for application to the human body. More so, he chose healthcare because of the unique feeling a physician or caregiver feels when helping an injured patient recover (reconstructing deformities and improving the quality of life of a patient). He considers it a privilege when parents of patients trust their children in his care.

Born in Toledo, he received his undergraduate degree at Duke University and Indiana University. He continued his studies at the University of Illinois Medical Center focusing on cancer research. He earned a master's degree in microbiology at Indiana University Graduate School and then went on to obtain his medical doctorate at the Medical College of Ohio. He is licensed in the state of Ohio.

He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Additionally, he is a diplomate on the National Board of Medical Examiners, Breast and Aesthetic Committee. Barone holds certificates from the American Society of Plastic Surgery, American Board of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the American Medical Association.

Barone considers his greatest accomplishment in the medical field to be his work with Operation Smile, a charity whose worldwide network of medical volunteers treats children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other facial deformities in countries all over the globe. Barone trained with Operation Smile’s founder Dr. William Magee, Jr. It was then that he learned how to reconstruct facial deformities in children. He has been involved with the charity for 22 years, performing surgeries in places such as Brazil, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Throughout this time he has passed on the skills he learned from Magee to local physicians. More than 130,000 children in 51 countries have been cared for since the charity was founded in 1982.

In addition to volunteering with Operation Smile overseas, Barone is the founder and medical director of the charity’s northwest Ohio chapter. He has also volunteered with the American Cancer Society; the Victory Center, a local organization supporting oncology patients and their families; and has been a supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Kids Unlimited Foundation.

When Barone isn’t educating others at Operation Smile he is teaching students at the University of Toledo Medical Center where he is a clinical assistant professor in the department of surgery and the department of otolaryngology. He is also a research associate of microvascular anastomosis procedures and techniques at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

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Irene Brooks, RN, M.Ed., CDE

Irene Brooks, RN, M.Ed, CDE
Diabetes educator
Pharmacy Counter

Irene Brooks, RN, M.Ed, CDE learned early in her career that knowledge is power. She sees this every day as she teaches her diabetes patients the responsibility of their health.

Brooks has over thirty years of patient education experience in both hospital and outpatient settings. She has established an adult diabetes support group, a day camp for youth with diabetes, a telephone information line, and a pregnant diabetes education program.

Early in her career, under the sponsorship of the Sisters of Mercy at Mercy Hospital, Brooks brought together a team of healthcare professionals. This was the first organized diabetes team in northwest Ohio at the Endocrine and Diabetes Care Center. Brooks acted as an advocate and instructor to patients and to the rest of the healthcare team. She and her team educated hospitals on the limits and complexities of day-to-day use of glucose meters and how to use these meters instead of performing venapunctures. Additionally, they were a critical part of the team that enabled the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis on the ward instead of the ICU, dropping the average hospital stay to two days.

Now, as a diabetes nurse educator at the Pharmacy Counter, Brooks watches her clients grow as they learn more about their disease. Through her counseling, Brooks provides patients with the nudge they need to start traveling down the road to good health.

Additionally, Brooks has been involved in numerous community health fairs / events spreading the word about diabetes and how it can be managed. She is heavily involved in blood glucose screenings throughout the area. She has worked with central city and low-income community members and established scholarships so that they could attend education classes at the Glenbyrne Pharmacy and the Pharmacy Counter in Toledo. She also was a frequent caller to pharmaceutical representatives requesting free test strips and meters so blood glucose testing could be done at home.

Brooks considers her greatest accomplishment to be when she was one of 20 healthcare professionals in the country to sit on the first National Board of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The group was the beginning of the present organization that has over 15,000 Certified Diabetes Educator members worldwide. More recently, she developed and coordinated a Medicare Diabetes Education Program certified by the American Diabetes Association.

She earned her RN from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in 1962 and a master of education from the University of Toledo in 1978. In addition to working at the Diabetes Education Center in the Glenbyrne Pharmacy, Brooks worked at St. Anne’s Mercy Hospital and Riverside Hospital.

Brooks believes that the healthcare profession found her. She enjoys helping people and watching her clients grow and learn as she educates them about their disease.

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Lawrence W. Elmer, M.D., PhD

Lawrence W. Elmer, M.D., PhD
Associate professor and director, Center for Neurological Disorders
Department of Neurology, University of Toledo College of Medicine

Lawrence W. Elmer, M.D., Ph.D. grew up following his father, a family practitioner, around the hospital. Elmer loved the fact that people with specific medical problems could go to his father for diagnosis and treatment. As he watched patients express gratitude towards his father and the care he provided, Elmer knew he wanted to care for others too.

Unsure of which area of medicine to pursue, Elmer researched at Florida State and fell in love with the nervous system. He earned his M.D. from the University of Florida in 1987 and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1988.

Elmer has been active in the healthcare industry for the past 15 years, 11 of which have been spent in Toledo. As an academic neurologist, his career involves many facets of healthcare including education. One of his greatest accomplishments is conducting research trials of the most promising medications for Parkinson’s. Half of these products have become commercially available medicines that help people throughout the US and globe. Elmer gives hope and improved lifestyles to older adults dealing with Parkinson’s.

Serving as the director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Program at the University of Toledo Medical Center’s Center for Neurological Health, Elmer has committed his life to changing the face of Parkinson’s Disease. He has created an annual Parkinson’s Disease Symposium for patients, caregivers, students, and health professionals. In its 14 years of existence, the event has become the 2nd largest Parkinson’s symposium in the country.

Elmer uses a holistic approach to treating patients. He incorporates medications and therapy with the support of family, friends, and other patients with the same experiences. This effort resulted in the creation of the Volunteer Services Team, which allows patients to mentor those newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Additionally, Elmer gives hope to patients who are struggling with the burden of medical expenses or are on fixed incomes. He established his own patient assistance program that allows patients to receive medications when they are unable to pay for them. The program has served more than 300 patients and dispensed more than $400,000 in medications on a yearly basis. He has also been known to make house calls for patients unable to make their appointments.

Elmer is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, New York Academy of Science, and the Society for Neuroscience. He is licensed from the Board of Medicine in Ohio and Michigan and is certified from the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

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Ann Locher, MSN, RN, ACRN (Posthumous)

Ann Locher, MSN, RN, ACRN (Posthumous)
Lifetime Achievement
Vice President
Health Education Initiatives

Ann Locher, MSN, RN, ACRN started her career as a pediatric and infection control nurse. However, she spent most of her career developing and implementing HIV prevention initiatives and AIDS treatment services in northwest Ohio. She dedicated 30 years in the profession of nursing to advocating for those who were underrepresented in the healthcare system. Ann died suddenly in June of 2010. Her colleagues nominated her for Healthcare Heroes to recognized her amazing contributions to AIDS education, prevention and treatment.

Locher was the leading advocate for change regarding HIV prevention and treatment services in northwest Ohio. The changes she initiated were done during a time when northwest Ohio was fearful of HIV. She devised and implemented HIV prevention education for adolescents and adults and initiated a HIV anonymous testing site at the Medical College of Ohio. More so, Locher took her advocacy into school districts in Lucas County that were not prepared to teach about such sexual health issues in the classroom. The curriculum taught young adults about the risks of HIV and prevention strategies. These efforts and collaboration skills brought the Lucas County community and the surrounding area together in the fight to reduce the risks for HIV infections.

While working as a HIV clinical nurse specialist at the Medical College of Ohio, Locher found that HIV-infected women were not adhering to their care requirements because they were too busy caring for their infected children. As a result, she devised a system where women and children could access a “one-stop” care system, where there was an infectious disease doctor, pediatrician, as well as mental health, social service, and other necessary providers available at the same appointment time.

Additionally, Locher was able to acquire grant funding to initiate HIV anonymous and confidential testing resources for the community. She also trained HIV advisors, brought testing access to the rural communities, and managed the sites to comply with national quality standards.

Licensed in the State of Ohio, Locher was honored by the National Nursing Honor Society, received the Dorothea Orem Award, and was named a Greatest Promise as a Nursing Scholar and the Association for the Advancement of Health Education Educator of the Year, among others.

Locher earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wittenberg University in 1973, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Toledo in 1977, and a master’s degree in nursing from the Medical College of Ohio in 1995. She was certified in AIDS nursing care and infection control.

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