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SALUTE: Eight health care awardees

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Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:15 am | Updated: 11:05 pm, Wed Mar 30, 2011.

The St. Louis American Foundation will recognize eight local professionals with its 2011 Excellence in Health Care award at the 11th Annual Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton on April 29. 

Christal L. Adams, RN, BSN has been a registered nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for nine years and is currently studying to be an adult nurse practitioner at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College. The compassion and concern for others displayed by her mother as a nurse’s aide, Adams said, prompted her to pursue a career in nursing. “My desire is to encourage and teach communities of preventive care and health promotion to ensure a better quality of life,” Adams said. She serves on the member selection committee of Chi Eta Phi, a professional nurses’ sorority, and is a health ministry leader. 

Portialyn Y. Peterson, LCSW serves as a lead social worker at SSM Behavioral Health Services at DePaul, a 99-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital. In addition to scheduling 10 social workers and five case managers, Peterson also has responsibilities on the pre-adolescent psychiatric unit, where she has been instrumental in developing and improving staff training for optimum patient outcomes. Last year, Peterson was selected to participate in SSM’s Emerging Leaders program. 

Clara Scott, MSW has worked at Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers for 28 years, beginning as a volunteer. Clinic founder and namesake Betty Jean Kerr encouraged Scott to further her education, and she became a social worker. She is known for motivating employees and always thinking of ways to make PHC better for both patients and staff, such as implementing new appointment procedures that doubled the number of patients able to receive care in the same time. In addition, Scott participates in and coordinates health fairs, food drives for patients and staff events. 

Darlene Smith is a therapist in the Transitional Care Department at SSM Behavioral Health Services at St. Mary’s. Peers say Smith strives to make therapy groups fresh, interesting and innovative while discussing symptoms, medication management, coping skills and relapse prevention. SSM leadership selected Smith to join a task force to redesign the curriculum. “As a result of her efforts, the entire department has multiple resources, which will allow them to deliver quality, interesting and innovative groups to our clients,” her nominator said. 

Katina McLeod-Stewart, MHA is the health services manager for the City of St. Louis Department of Health, having started as a supervisor in the maternal child and family health clinic in 1997. Stewart initiated automation of the managed-care billing system, with a time and cost savings for the clinic. In 2000, she became an inspector in the Air Pollution Control Division and was promoted to section chief. As such, she “completely reorganized the asbestos inspection process, which eliminated illegal asbestos abatement projects within the City of St. Louis,” her nominator said. Stewart is also a part of the Missouri Public Health Leadership Institute and collaborates with several community organizations. 

Mary J. Trice, RN is director of surgical services at Christian Hospital BJC HealthCare. She has been with Christian Hospitals for 37 years, working first in the OB-GYN floor with new mothers at the former Christian Northwest before helping to open Christian Northeast. Trice moved through the ranks in nursing to become a manager, then director. She supervises more than 100 employees, including nurses, managers, technicians and facilitators in inpatient and outpatient care. Trice says her scope extends “from the time the patient comes into our doors, they are worked up for the surgery, then we see them through the recovery room.” 

Debbie Wade-Wilson, RN, BSN is responsible for the health needs of more than 1,100 students at Beaumont and Sumner high schools and the Fresh Start alterative program in St. Louis Public Schools. The school nurse is known as a healthy lifestyle advocate for teens, young adults and all students. She is particularly passionate about the health of teen mothers, having worked at the Meda P. Washington Alternative School for mothers-to-be. Wade-Wilson also oversees the athletic medical department for high school games. Having worked for SLPS for the past 16 years, her nominator said, “Debbie always puts the concerns of the student first.” 

Deirdre “Dee” Washington, RN is a team leader for the Procedure Center, Post Anesthesia Care Unit and Endoscopy at SSM St. Clare Health Center. Her leadership was credited for a more than 30 percent jump in patient satisfaction scores.

Washington is an electronic medical record expert and meets equipment and instrument needs for physicians in a timely manner. She also contributed to the design and construction of the health center. Several key committees at SSM utilize her expertise, including nursing peer review, network practice council, medication error reduction, patient satisfaction and culture of service. Her nominator said Washington is a nurse with whom “I would trust my life and the lives of my family.”


The 2011 Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards Luncheon will be held at the Ritz-Carlton on April 29. A reception will be held from 11 a.m. to noon, and the awards program will follow from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Tickets for the 11th annual Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards Luncheon are $75 each for VIP/Corporate seats, $50 each for Individual seats and $40 each for General seating. Tables of 10 are available in each price category. For more information and to order tickets, visit or call 314-533-8000.

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