Current Report Articles
President's Perspective – This Thanksgiving, Let's Celebrate Our Health Care Workers

staff happy (Nov. 26, 2021) – As we celebrate with our family and friends during Thanksgiving, I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate many of the individuals nominated for the KHA Health Care Worker of the Year award. All of the candidates demonstrated excellence in health care and routinely went above and beyond the call of duty. To be nominated from all the employees at each hospital is an honor.

Thank you to our KHA Allied Organization presidents who judged this year's entries. Congratulations to the following nominees:

On Oct. 27, during our LIVE, yet virtual convention, we announced the winners. I imagine it was hard for our KHA Allied Organization presidents to select our four 2021 awardees, but here they are:

  • Missy Hampel, director of nursing, Ascension Via Christi Hospitals Wichita, St. Francis Campus in Wichita. Missy spent her entire 44 years in health care at the Ascension Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita. She is currently the nursing director over numerous critical care departments in the hospital. Her colleagues would describe her as unfailingly calm, professional and committed to meeting her patients' needs. In addition, Missy serves as liaison with the hospital's dialysis providers and the Midwest Transplant Network. She also serves on the hospital's ethics committee. Congratulations Missy!
  • Heather Hyler, chief nursing officer, Wilson Medical Center in Neodesha. Heather has worked in health care for 23 years. Although she has only been at Wilson Medical Center for four years, she has managed to raise the quality and scope of care by targeting two core issues – salary and workforce recruitment. By leading an effort to update wage adjustments for the nursing staff, the hospital was able to increase the range of health care experience. Patients are now able to recover within their home community, as services at the hospital have been expanded. Congratulations Heather!
  • Kathryn McMillen, chief nursing officer, St. Luke Hospital and Living Center in Marion. Kathryn has worked in health care for 23 years. She began her role as CNO at the start of the pandemic. She worked seven days a week due to staffing shortages and often worked the floor while squeezing in administrative duties. Kathryn regularly relieves nurses encouraging them to take breaks and leads by example. She draws on personal experience to help educate and support patients and their families. Congratulations Kathryn!
  • Jo Neill, infusion therapy, infection control and employee health nurse, Coffey County Hospital in Burlington. Jo has been in health care for 43 years. The compassion for her patients and commitment to her community are astounding. Her ability to "look and listen" has touched countless lives and set a high bar for professionals following in her footsteps. At a rural hospital, you're often called upon to wear many hats. Upon COVID-19's arrival at her hospital, Jo took 24-hour call rotations and became the public face for her hospital. She educated the staff, patients and community on infection precautions and guidelines. Congratulations Jo!

KHA is working with these four winners to find a time to present each of them the KHA Health Care Worker of the Year Award at their hospital. On behalf of the entire KHA staff, we also want to express our appreciation and gratitude to the countless health care professionals that have been unselfishly sacrificing themselves to care for our family, friends and those that are the most vulnerable among us. Happy Thanksgiving from the entire KHA staff!
--Chad Austin