2022 Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awardees

2022 Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awardees (clockwise, top right):  Ketra Collins, Marilyn Peaston, Ursula Wright, Dr. Michelle Grimes, Wilma Saunders Schmitz and Dr. Dwight McLeod and Angela Klocke.

The St. Louis American Foundation will honor seven outstanding health professionals from a wide range of organizations, including federally qualified area medical centers, dentistry, and university medical centers, at the 2022 Salute to Excellence in Health Care Luncheon on Thursday, April 14, at the Frontenac Hilton.

Ketra Collins is a registered nurse at Gateway Regional Medical Center while also serving as the coordinator of Shalom Church City of Peace Health Fair and Health Ministry. She says she feels “incredibly blessed to be able to provide free health care screenings and services to my church and the community at large.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic, her coordination has aided in providing COVID-19 testing, education and vaccination clinics routinely at the church. Collins has worked as an RN for 40 years and was the first African-American nurse on the Labor & Delivery/Obstetrics/Newborn Nursery Unit; she has worked the last two years on the Surgical Services Unit. Collins received her ADN from Lewis and Clark Community College in 1980 and her BSN degree from Chamberlain University in 2013. 

Dr. Michelle Grimes is a doctoral-prepared board-certified family nurse practitioner and chief nursing officer at CareSTL Health Care in St. Louis. Dr. Grimes has more than 40 years of experience as a nurse in various clinical areas. Her clinical expertise is in med-surg, dialysis, and obstetrics and as a hospitalist. Grimes tells us her fulfillment comes from “being highly visible and innovative while promoting core values to direct quality care, excellence in service, accountability, integrity and QI while making a significant impact that is meaningful to all.” Grimes has obtained an immense amount of education, receiving her associate in nursing degree from St. Louis Community College at Forest Park in 1987, bachelor of science in nursing in 2002 as well as her master of science in Nursing with a certification as a family nurse practitioner in 2014, both from University of Missouri St. Louis,  as well in business administration with an emphasis in finance from Fontbonne University in 2004, and her doctor of nursing practice in advanced clinical practice leadership from Chamberlain University in 2017.  

Angela Klocke is a recently retired RN case manager from Christian Hospital Northeast where she worked collaboratively with all medical and hospital services and patient’s families to achieve the best possible health outcome for patients. Klocke also worked as an RN clinical care coordinator, with the SYNCHRONY Project; Strengthening Young Children by Optimizing Nature/Nurture In Infancy; Department of Pediatric Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine. Klocke tells us being a nurse “was not on my radar in the beginning. I was studying psychology” however while working part-time in a closed adolescent psychiatric unit she experienced a patient having a seizure. “The nurses immediately called the Emergency Department and began to attend to the patient. The ED staff arrived, stabilized the patient and took him off the floor. It was the most exciting work I had ever seen and immediately went to talk with my advisor to change my degree to nursing.” Klocke went on to work forty years in the health care industry by the time she retired. 

Dr. Dwight McLeod is the dean of A.T. Still University-Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH), vice chair of the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health Board, and member of the board of directors for the Jamaica Consulate (Chicago) Medical Needs Committee and Midwest Jamaica Diaspora Committee. McLeod has a long list of responsibilities, including creating access to oral health care, providing opportunities for outreach programs which promote the dental profession and oral health literacy, serving communities in need, ensuring excellence in dental education, protecting ATSU-MOSDOH’ s reputation and integrity and much more. He has made history as the first Jamaican and Black dental dean of ATSU-MOSDOH, the first Black dean for one of ATSU’s seven colleges/schools, the first Black dean of a predominantly majority dental school where the dean is not an alumnus nor has any other previous affiliations. McLeod says “I feel privileged to be granted the opportunity to oversee ATSU-MOSDOH, a relatively new dental school. The possibilities are exciting, and I look forward to continuing in the service tradition of the excellent osteopathic heritage set forth by ATSU’s founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still.” Dr. McLeod earned his doctor of dental surgery degree from Howard University College of Dentistry, a general practice residency certificate from the Washington VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and a certificate and master of science degree from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.

Marilyn Peaston is a recently retired case manager for the Health Resource Center, a free clinic for eighteen-year-olds. There she worked with social services to address the social services needs of patients, such as referrals to organizations for food, clothing, and rent/mortgage assistance. In addition to those responsibilities, Peaston also identified and strengthened clinic collaborations with area community-based organizations which further provided resources for patients, and made referrals to clinic partner IHN (Integrated Health Network) to secure health insurance for patients. Throughout her career Peaston is proud of being able to make a difference by being able to “resolve many conflicts with patients with displaced issues to effectively communicate their conditions to doctors and nurses. I actively listened to patients who ,most times, was key to getting services for them and their families.” Peaston tells us she got into the health care field because “I wanted to address the growing health disparities in the community.” Peaston was in the health care field for eighteen years before retirement. 

Wilma Saunders Schmitz is the regional liaison and trainer for Missouri's state health insurance assistance program, known as Missouri CLAIM. Missouri CLAIM is funded through federal and state programs to provide unbiased Medicare information. In addition to this role, Saunders Schmitz also works with Community Volunteer Counselors and Partners to assist people with Medicare to understand their health insurance options. She is also the president of Family Care Health Centers' Board of Directors, and is involved in the Missouri Primary Care Association. She serves on several national committees with the National Association of Community Health Centers and was a member of the  Missouri Foundation for Health's Community Advisory Council 2016-2021. She tells us “I always enjoyed older people and had the opportunity to work as an intern with older adults while I was a student at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and I was hooked. I worked for the Area Agency on Aging to develop and manage an apartment complex for older people in Jennings.” Saunders Schmitz has worked in the social services field specializing in working with older adults and their families for 42 years. She received a BS in education from SIU-Edwardsville, and an MA in gerontology from Lindenwood University. 

Ursula Wright serves as vice president, care redesign and optimization for Mercy, at the Mercy Quality and Safety Center. He duties include oversight of the development, implementation, analytics and optimization of evidenced based processes and process improvement tools used across the Mercy System including the entire continuum of care. This includes 40+ clinical pathways, 350+ order sets, interdisciplinary care plan and other clinical documentation tools/workflow processes. These tools and workflow process improvements resulted in decreased mortality and ~$20 million in cost savings for Mercy Health Systems during fiscal year 2019. Wright is also a family nurse practitioner at Mercy Go Health Urgent Care Clinics where she works approximately every other week, performing evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, management, intervention, education and care for patients in an urgent care setting. She is also a clinical adjunct faculty member at Maryville University’s McAuley School of Nursing, where she teaches undergraduate, graduate nursing and nurse practitioner students pathophysiology, quality and leadership, health promotion and clinical rotations.  Of her many awards, in 2016 Wright received the Mercy Health System Patient Outcome Award and the 2019 Missouri Hospital Association Aim for Excellence Award Improving Sepsis Care.

Tickets for the 22nd Annual Salute to Excellence in Healthcare Awards Luncheon on Thursday, April 14 at the Frontenac Hilton are $800 per table of 8 for VIP/Corporate seating or $100 each, and $75 each or $600 per table of 8 for general seating. Network reception at 11:00am, lunch and program at 12:00pm. To order tickets, call 314-533-8000 or visit www.stlamerican.com.

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