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VOL. 44 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 10, 2020

Covenant honors Wing, others with annual awards

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Covenant Health has recognized individuals and collaborative teams in its health care system with its annual President’s Excellence Awards.

Scott Wing, laboratory manager at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, received the 2019 Leadership Award. He was selected from among 15 finalists who were nominated as outstanding managers or directors at Covenant Health.

The awards focus on performance that demonstrates Covenant Health’s Pledge of Excellence: putting patients first, striving for excellence in everything we do, and ensuring that Covenant Health is the first and best choice in our communities.

“The pledge is the very core of who we are at Covenant Health,” said Jim VanderSteeg, president and CEO. “The President’s Excellence Awards recognize individuals and teams, but more importantly, they honor those who demonstrate the pledge in action.”

Nine employees from throughout the system received Individual Achievement awards in recognition of their commitment to the Pledge of Excellence and exemplary performance in their day-to-day responsibilities.

Individual Award honorees:

• Jamie Chambers, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center

• Tennille Creekmore, Parkwest Medical Center

• Julie Crum, Covenant HomeCare

• Kelly Edwards, Cumberland Medical Center

• Donna Johns, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System

• Amy Lackey, Parkwest Medical Center

• Tina Leinart, Methodist Medical Center

• Nicole Mattison, Parkwest Medical Center

• Elliot Whidby, Parkwest Medical Center

Team achievement awards were selected by judges representing community health care, education and quality improvement organizations. Out of 37 applications, awards were given to nine collaborative projects including recognitions for community impact, innovation, improvement and sustainability.

The President’s Award, Covenant Health’s top award, was given to a systemwide project team for implementing Covenant’s new electronic health record.

More than 150 providers and countless hospital and clinic staff members participated in design sessions, content development, future-state review and testing in order to ensure a seamless integration across the system. After months of design, preparation and education, eight acute care hospitals and nearly 100 physician practices successfully went live with the system.

“This project touched essentially every operational area and nearly all employees at Covenant Health. The implementation team’s accomplishments are impressive in an ongoing initiative that is essential to providing the very best care for our patients,” VanderSteeg said.

LaFollette Clinic South welcomes Pearman

S. Michele Pearman, D.O., has joined the team at Tennova LaFollette Medical Center Clinic – South, a department of LaFollette Medical Center.

Pearman specializes in caring for men, women and children ages 2 and older. She offers well checks, sick visits and annual health screenings. She also performs minor procedures, such as joint injections, simple wound repairs and skin lesion removal. Pearman is dedicated to preventive care and management of chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Pearman earned her medical degree from Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate. She also completed a family practice residency at Wellmont Health Systems in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Previously, Pearman saw patients at Cherokee Health Systems in New Tazwell.

“I am very happy to join Tennova and have the opportunity to practice medicine close to where I grew up,” Pearman says. “My patient care philosophy includes building relationships with my patients and their family members. I am committed to helping families stay healthy.”

She is accepting new patients at her office at 2145 Jacksboro Pike, LaFollette.

Tourassi takes over as NCCS director

Gina Tourassi is the new director of the National Center for Computational Sciences, a division of the Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The NCCS is home to the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, a Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility.

Tourassi replaces NCCS director Jim Hack, who will transition to a strategic leadership role in CCSD. Hack’s leadership of the NCCS over the past 12 years contributed significantly to the scientific growth of the center.

Tourassi first joined ORNL in 2011 in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Division as the founding director of the ORNL Health Data Sciences Institute and most recently served as the group leader of ORNL’s Biomedical Sciences, Engineering and Computing Group.

Previously, she held numerous academic positions at Duke University Medical Center. Her prolific scientific efforts have produced 11 patents and invention disclosures and a 2014 R&D 100 award, as well as more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings articles and book chapters.

“Gina was chosen from an outstanding pool of candidates for her dedication to world-class research,” says Jeff Nichols, ORNL’s Computing and Computational Sciences associate laboratory director. “Gina has used her interdisciplinary expertise at the intersection of artificial intelligence and applied data sciences to spearhead rapid growth of the Laboratory’s capabilities in biomedical sciences and engineering.”

Under Tourassi’s leadership, BSEC grew from five to 23 staff members in only three years. The diversity and talent of the team – ensured by the fact that Tourassi personally hired every single one of its members – has helped position ORNL as a visionary player in applied computational sciences.

With OLCF program director Buddy Bland and OLCF-5 Project Director Justin Whitt, Tourassi will lead the division as it continues to prepare for installation and the 2021 launch of Frontier, one of America’s first exascale supercomputers. A Cray Shasta system, the Frontier supercomputer will offer best-in-class traditional scientific modeling and simulation capabilities while also leading the world in artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Under Hack’s stewardship, the division stood up three world-leading computing systems for DOE: Jaguar, Titan and Summit – the latter of which is currently the world’s fastest and smartest for scientific research. During his tenure, the NCCS nearly doubled in size and has been a trailblazer in high-performance computing for the past decade.

Florence, Sliger honored by Rural Health Assn.

Dr. Joe Florence and Carolyn Sliger of East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine both nominated a deserving co-worker to receive an award from the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.

They had no idea that they were nominating each other.

At the conference, Florence, professor of Family Medicine at Quillen, was presented with the Rural Health Professional of the Year Award. Sliger was awarded the Eloise Q. Hatmaker Distinguished Service Award.

Florence has served as a family physician and director of Quillen College of Medicine’s Rural Programs for the past 17 years. During this time, he has been active with the Remote Area Medical Clinics as the lead physician and has overseen rural health fairs in multiple sites across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“Dr. Florence has been a cornerstone of our flagship Rural Primary Care Track for years, and has helped make it a nationally recognized and praised program,” says Dr. Reid Blackwelder, chair of Family Medicine. “He has mentored dozens of medicals students who have followed his example and gone into underserved communities.’’

Sliger’s award recognizes an individual who has contributed outstanding service to the RHA of TN and rural health.

“Carolyn is a mover and a shaker, and the health of our rural and underserved communities are much better off because of her,” Florence says.

“Her love for rural health is infectious. Her life of service has touched hundreds of physicians and health care providers who are now practicing in rural underserved communities.”

Since 1997 she has coordinated Rural Programs in ETSU’s Family Medicine and Quillen College of Medicine.

As a coordinator, her responsibilities involve engaging high school, college, medical students and residents and health professions students into areas of interest in rural or underserved medicine including international medicine. This includes the Rural Primary Care Track which is designed to prepare physicians for the rigors of practice using a service learning, experiential pedagogy in rural communities.

In addition to Florence and Sliger’s awards, Dr. Beth Anne Fox, associate dean of Quillen College of Medicine, was recently elected to the RHA of TN board. Further accolades include third-year Quillen student Emmitt Turner, whose research poster titled “Adolescent and Electronic Cigarette Use in Johnson County” placed first in its division.

Second-year Quillen student Rebekka Merrifield’s poster titled “Diabetic Health Literacy in an Appalachian Latino Population” also placed first in its division.

UT grad student develops air filtration material

Qijun Zhang, a graduate student studying at the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon, which is part of the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, has developed a new nanocellulose-based material that has outstanding air filtration performance.

Zhang, originally from Guiyang City in Guizhou Province, China, is a graduate of Wuhan University of Technology. He earned his master’s degree from Nanjing University.

“Air pollution affects a large number of people in the world, and I hope that our research will improve the living quality of those affected. It is delightful that our product doesn’t require a lot of energy to get air through the filter, compared with conventional air filters. This is important because it saves energy and reduces potential emissions,” Zhang says.

This research is published on the American Chemical Society’s website, Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, and the UT Research Foundation has filed a patent application. In addition, the research holds significant implications for removing dangerous particulate matter from the air. PM is comprised of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air, with exposure to PM linked to myriad health problems.

Professors Siqun Wang and Timothy M. Young were advisers for Zhang who received the first-place award in the student poster competition at the 2019 Society of Wood Science and Technology International convention in Yosemite National Park, California. SWST is a leading, internationally recognized, professional organization of wood scientists, engineers, marketing specialists and other professionals who specialize in lignocellulosic materials.

Tarpy earns Pro Bono Hall of Fame

Legal Aid of East Tennessee has announced its Pro Bono Award winners.

This year’s inductee into the Donald F. Paine Memorial Pro Bono Hall of Fame was Lynn Tarpy who epitomizes the dedication to pro bono service and access to justice instilled in our community of lawyers by Don Paine.

Tarpy is a founding member of the law firm Tarpy, Cox, Fleishman & Levielle and has been a regular pro bono volunteer for Legal Aid of East Tennessee for close to two decades. In 2002, he received the Pro Bono Project award for providing the most pro bono hours. He has assisted on more than 150 cases for LAET clients, many of which he handled after agreeing to have his firm serve as LAET’s Pillar Law Firm for bankruptcies.

In 2017, when Judge Suzanne Bauknight proposed establishing a new Debt Relief Clinic program as a partnership between LAET and the KBA’s Bankruptcy Section, Tarpy provided useful guidance for the project.

The Pro Bono Students of the Year were the students of the University of Tennessee College of Law Expungement Clinic. Over the past two years, the students involved with the UT’s Expungement Clinic have volunteered their time at several major clinics including 2017’s Help4TNDay clinic in Rutledge and Beck Cultural Center Clinic and 2018’s Monroe County expungement clinic and Faith & Justice Alliance Clinic at Overcoming Believers Church in Knoxville.

The Pro Bono Attorney of the Year is Kevin Newton, a 2013 graduate of LMU’s Duncan School of Law. He is an attorney at Mayer & Newton, where his practice focuses on bankruptcy law. In 2018, Newton volunteered at all four Debt Relief Clinics, three Faith & Justice Clinics, several monthly Veterans Clinics, and the Knox County Super Saturday Bar.

His clinic attendance in 2019 has been just as impressive. He has also become a regular “phone-a-friend” resource when he is not able to attend a clinic in person. From January 2018 to now, Newton has assisted more than 30 clients through clinic advice or direct representation which is more than any other attorney during the same period.

The Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year is Kramer Rayson. The attorneys at Kramer Rayson have demonstrated a long-

term commitment to LAET through their pro bono service to the organization.

Tom Hale served on LAET’s board of directors from 2006 to 2018 and was board president in 2011 and 2012. Betsy Beck has provided skilled pro bono counsel and representation to LAET for several years on a variety of critical employment matters, most of which required and received her immediate attention.

Other members of Kramer Rayson have also shown lasting support for LAET and Access to Justice. Wayne Kramer showed support as president of the Knoxville Bar Association and has continued to be an active member of the KBA’s Access to Justice Committee. Will Carver was instrumental in establishing LAET’s Blount County Saturday Bar program.

The Pro Bono Community Partner of the Year is Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office. Since the first Veterans Legal Clinic in September 2016, the CLO has hosted every monthly Veterans Clinic except one.

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