Distinguished Service Awards presented at convention

John Porter, Avera Health, and Tim Rave, Interim CEO, SDAHO

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) presented eight South Dakotans with Distinguished Service Awards for exceptional contributions made to the health care field. The winners were announced at SDAHO’s annual convention on Sept. 19. Recipients included.

Vanessa Gomez, news reporter for KSFY Television in Sioux Falls, was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for Media Personality. Gomez, a morning reporter, was selected for her leadership and passion while covering health care-related stories. It was noted that when she arrives on location to do a story it is obvious she has done her research ahead of time, is professional, respectful and full of energy. Gomez is interested in covering health care stories that focus on technology and advancement in care.

Monica Metzger of Winner Regional Healthcare Center received the Distinguished Service Award for Young Profession. Metzger was selected for her leadership in developing an in-house therapy program at the Winner Regional, including physical, occupational and speech therapy services. She was also instrumental in helping lay the groundwork for Winner Regional offering total joint replacements. (Photo not available.)

Lt. Gov. Matt Michels received the Distinguished Service Award for State Official. Michels was selected for being a tireless supporter of health care in South Dakota. He has addressed numerous health care needs throughout his career, including the development of the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home in Hot Springs. It was noted that he is a collaborator, listener and communicator and seeks out opinions and information from many sources.

Walter Panzirer of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust was presented the Distinguished Service Award for Health Care Hero. Panzirer has made delivery of health care services to patients in rural and frontier areas his top priority. With Panzirer’s leadership and guidance, The Helmsley Trust has dramatically changed rural health care by awarding grants totaling more than $320 million to multiple organizations for the improvement of rural health care and cancer treatment.

John Porter of Avera Health was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for Health Care Professional. Throughout his 44-year career in health care leadership, Porter has had a significant impact and positive influence in South Dakota. He helped form corporate structures for both the Benedictine and Presentation health systems and was pivotal in bringing these two organizations together in an innovative co-sponsorship model that in 2000 became known as Avera Health. He has overseen development of innovative programs such as Avera eCARE, accountable care organizations, two health insurance companies and the formation of 13 clinical service lines. Porter recently retired as president and CEO of Avera Health.  Porter is shown above accepting his award.

Brian Schaeffer of Winner Regional Healthcare Center Schaeffer received the Distinguished Service Award for Trustees. He has served on the Winner Regional Healthcare Center’s board of trustees for the past 10 years, with the last three years as president of the board. He was noted for his quiet and calm manner while being a strong and wise advisor who has helped to weather difficulties and make hard decisions. (Photo not available.)

Sen. Deb Soholt of Sioux Falls was selected for the Distinguished Service Award for State Legislator. Sen. oholt is a tireless advocate for quality, accessible health care across South Dakota. She is a voice for those that are most vulnerable and continually looks out for the best interests of all residents of the state. Soholt is known for her ability to study a bill, understand what the bill does and give clear, intelligent, informed opinions. She has a passion for seeing South Dakota thrive and ensuring a safe, high quality life for everyone.

Sarah Talbott of Sanford Chamberlain was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for Post Acute Care Champion. Talbott, who is the director of nursing at Sanford Health in Chamberlain, was selected for her leadership style and commitment to patients. It was noted that Talbott is instrumental in networking with community and regional partners to ensure all patients receive the type of care needed. She is a role model and excellent ambassador for those in her care.

Larry Veitz received the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously. Veitz was president of Regional Health Spearfish Hospital until his death in a tragic ATV accident in November 2017. Known as the “go-to” person for health care leadership in South Dakota, Veitz was revered for his contributions. Veitz received the Distinguished Service Award for Health Care Professional in 2017, just weeks before his death.