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Getting to Know Julie Simon

Julie Simon (Oct. 9, 2020) – KHA's Health Care Worker of the Year Award highlights hospital employees who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of their hospital. These individuals have been nominated for this award because they routinely go above and beyond the call of duty.

Julie Simon began her career at Ascension Via Christi 31 years ago in laboratory services. Today, she leads that operation statewide, with a staff of more than 300 who collectively perform more than 3.8 million tests per year. We have all heard stories of the challenges faced and bravery displayed by those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 battlefield. But we need to hear the story of the person BEFORE COVID-19.

Julie is described as someone whose presence and actions quietly earn her the respect of being named an "outstanding health care hero." She lives the core values of creativity and unconventional thinking that reverberate over time. She leads brilliantly, works tirelessly and is a role model for tenacity and doing the right thing. She's the person who works 14-hour plus days for weeks on end … never complaining, never seeking recognition. Instead, she focuses on creating a positive impact for many. Adversity only fuels her fire to do her best. She offers a much needed prospective; and when others don’t understand a situation, she patiently explains it to them – even sketching pictures when needed. She graciously and patiently welcomes us into her world despite the lack of familiarity. Even in the most trying times, Julie is the kind of person that keeps her sense of humor and focuses on what is most important … her patients and her community.

This is just a small part of Julie Simon. COVID-19 doesn't define her … it's a challenge that is to be overcome. While the impact of COVID-19 was being felt across the country, many leaders might have shut down in response to this visible threat. Not Julie. She diligently obtained testing kits by calling numerous hospitals, clinics and vendors. She set up testing centers in parking lots and manufacturing businesses. When leaders were asked to do more, Julie stepped up by saying, "We got this."

Clearly, in a pandemic, Laboratory Services plays a crucial role. However, this was not the first time Julie's leadership skills have been put to the test. Nelson Mandela once said, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." That is Julie Simon.

Julie will be recognized with other Health Care Worker of the Year nominees during the KHA Virtual Convention, Oct. 21-23. The winners also will be recognized at their hospitals.
--Jan Fenwick