Healthcare Heroes 2020 – Nevada Business Magazine

Corporate Sponsor

Southwest Medical, part of OptumCare, was founded in Las Vegas in 1972 and is Nevada’s largest multispecialty medical group. For nearly 50 years, it has provided experienced, compassionate, innovative and high-quality care to patients throughout southern Nevada.

A healthcare provider that has been around that long knows that a community’s quality of life is directly related to the health of its members. That’s why Southwest Medical works not just to improve the healthcare system in Nevada, but to give back to the community whenever possible. They have an organization-wide response to ongoing social issues, not simply with corporate giving each year (including the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Red Cross, Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department Foundation and many more), but with the support of all of their employees, from executive leadership to frontline personnel.  

They accomplish much of this service through their 12 Employee Community Councils (“ECCs”) that are made up of every Southwest Medical employee. These ECCs identify charities and then support them regionally or organization wide. These volunteer efforts typically reach over 15,000 hours of service each year.  

The executive leadership of Southwest Medical also offers their support as board members and chairpersons for charities, committees and organizations across the region, including:

  • Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief & Recovery Task Force (Member; Dr. Robert McBeath, President, Optum Nevada)
  • Nevada Gaming Control Board (Past Chairman; Dr. Tony Alamo)
  • Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada (Board Member; Dr. John Rhodes) S
  • Project 150 (Founding Board Member; Dr. Robert McBeath)
  • Tyler Robinson Foundation, founded by Imagine Dragons (Board Member; Toni Corbin, Executive Vice President Operations)
  • Nevada Academy of Family Physicians (Board Member; Dr. Neil Gokal)

Southwest Medical also strongly supports a vibrant healthcare education system, by Nevada and for Nevada. They work in tandem with area university medical programs and are a major contributor to the UNLV School of Medicine. In 2016, they announced a $3 million grant and partnership between UNLV School of Medicine and United Health Foundation to advance healthcare innovation and access to care in Southern Nevada, especially for Medicaid patients and the medically underserved.

Of course, they have also reached out to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, working diligently to inform people on how to protect themselves, their families and their friends, as well was ways to cope with the stress. And, during this unprecedented public health crisis, access to healthy meals has become a challenge for many. Earlier this year Southwest Medical worked with their counterparts at OptumCare and Health Plan of Nevada to reallocate their office campus cafeteria staff to provide over 10,000 meals each week for thousands of homeless people. The City of Las Vegas and Clark County partnered to transport and distribute those bagged meals.

A tradition of care is only as strong as the commitment to it. Having been a part of southern Nevada as long as Southwest Medical has, the organization knows the area’s residents – they know generations of them. More than serving people in their offices, in their healthcare centers and in their community centers, they reach out to the community as a whole.

Thank You!

The success of Healthcare Heroes depends on the steadfast support of our sponsors. Together we’ve been able to honor dozens of community leaders in healthcare for their work. The Nevada Business Magazine extends a heartfelt “THANK YOU” to all of this year’s sponsors and to everyone that helped make this program possible.

Associate Sponsors

Administrator Heroes

Northern Nevada

Lisa Howard

Executive Director
VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System

An administrator’s role is to motivate and lead others, remove barriers and be a champion for change, to achieve the strategic goals of the organization,” explained Lisa Howard, executive director of the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System (VASNHCS). She has worked in VA for over 34 years and can’t imagine being in any other sector. She began her VA career in 1987, holding a number of leadership positions within the organization.

“Health and wellness are foundational to every aspect of our lives,” said Howard. “Further, the noble mission of the VA, being able to care for those who have borne the battle, is an incredible honor that I am proud to help fulfill.”

The pride she has in what she does is shown through the work she puts in every day and Howard sets the tone for her staff who served over 32,000 veterans last year. She is responsible for guiding the VASNHCS which provides healthcare veterans in 20 counties in northern Nevada and northeastern California. Howard said she is most proud of being able to help the VASNHCS move toward a servant leadership approach and shift the culture to one that is, “laser focused on improving customer experience, going above and beyond to serve veterans and protect their safety.” She continued that she is also proud that every single employee is empowered to speak their mind and offer their perspective without fear of reprisal.

Howard added, “I am motivated by the profound mission of caring for America’s heroes. They deserve honor and respect and I endeavor every day to be responsive to their needs. My heart is 100 percent aligned with serving these heroes.”

Southern Nevada

Toni Corbin

Mountain West Region Executive Vice President
Southwest Medical

With over 30 years of experience in healthcare administration, Toni Corbin has dedicated her life to ensuring patients have exceptional, compassionate care. Serving as executive vice president for Southwest Medical, Corbin is responsible for the clinical, operational and financial administration of the organization and, ultimately, it’s 375,000 patients.

“An administrator creates a welcoming, open-minded culture and a safe environment for their team to feel comfortable voicing their opinion,” explained Corbin of her role. “They build and invest in relationships to include teaching, coaching and mentoring team members, while also clearly communicating expectations, goals and measuring performance.”

Motivated by her mother, who was a hospital-based nurse and single parent to two daughters, Corbin has been passionate about the healthcare field from a young age. Her mother’s compassion to help others inspired her to be a part of improving the healthcare system as an administrator.

“The most rewarding part of my job is connecting with patients,” explained Corbin. “Developing a relationship with the community we serve is very important to me. Understanding patient health needs and creating an integrated healthcare system that is able to provide helpful solutions for patients is what drives me.”

Since beginning her career at Southwest Medical in 1972, Corbin is most proud of all that she has helped the organization accomplish since then, including expanding and building 45 healthcare facilities in southern Nevada among other achievements.

“Southwest Medical serves a diverse patient population in southern Nevada and we have successfully built a comprehensive service portfolio that allows our patients to choose how they want to receive their healthcare services,” said Corbin.

She added, “It’s an honor to have received this award, but it’s truly the entire team that is deserving of the recognition – everyone from our front desk employees to our providers who all work tirelessly to ensure quality, patient-centered care

Care Provider Heroes

Northern Nevada

Olivia Moschetti

Field Nurse
Saint Mary’s Home Care

Responsible for in-home patient care, some of Olivia Moschetti’s earliest memories are of providing care to a row of stuffed animals with a toy stethoscope as a child.

“I’ve wanted to work in healthcare since I was four years old,” said Moschetti. “I developed a passion for home care during my nursing school rotations. Before I graduated, I called the director of Saint Mary’s Home Care and asked what steps I need to take to work for them.”

She has worked with Saint Mary’s in various positions since 2009 and has served as a field nurse for Saint Mary’s Home Care since 2017. Moschetti is passionate about her work as a nurse and strives to make every patient feel cared for even beyond their medical needs.

“I feel most rewarded when I know that a patient would have ended up in the hospital or had an adverse outcome had I not been present in their home,” said Moschetti. “I am privileged to get to work with patients who are grateful for the work of a nurse.”

When asked how she would define a care provider Moschetti said, “A care provider goes beyond just completing tasks and considers each patient as a unique human with a perspective and experience to be considered.”

Moschetti has said that she feels privileged to be a part of her patient’s lives in a vulnerable time and she works hard to go above and beyond expectations for those she cares for. She truly feels she was called to be a care provider and exemplifies that calling in her daily work.

“My favorite times are when I am entrusted with memories from the generations that have gone before me,” she added.

Southern Nevada

Brian Iriye, MD

Managing Partner
High Risk Pregnancy Center, Mother Program

Farzad Kamyar, MD

Director of Collaborative Care
High Risk Pregnancy Center, Mother Program

Serving as leaders at the High Risk Pregnancy Center (HRPC), Drs. Brian Iriye and Farzad Kamyar noticed a gap in treatment for pregnant women with substance use disorders. To fill that gap, they helped create a program from the ground up called the Maternal Opioid Treatment Health Education and Recovery or MOTHER program at HRPC.

“In the past 20 years, our nation has been deeply impacted by opioids. It is one of the great public health emergencies of our time.,” said Kamyar. “The work we do with the MOTHER program at HRPC has a direct impact in saving and improving the lives of both women and their children.”

“The practice has really set the standard for high risk healthcare,” added Iriye. He went on to explain that the MOTHER program was able to address an important issue that was previously without sufficient treatment. “We felt like we had to step in,” he said.

Both Drs. Iriye and Kamyar are exceptional leaders and physicians individually. Together, and with the help of their team, they have managed to care for a vulnerable population that had been overlooked.

“I feel that being able to hear about a patient’s life experiences is one of the greatest privileges we, as physicians have,” said Kamyar. “Sometimes just listening and trying to understand is one of the most effective forms of treatment we can offer.”

“Our practice has stepped up for the community that we love to provide a very important service,” added Iriye. “I am lucky enough to be around families during some of the most important and happiest moments of their lives.”

Educator Heroes

Northern Nevada

Sherry Stofko

Nursing Educator
Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center

While educators are mainly known for writing curriculum and teaching classes, I believe, at the core, we serve as motivators, change agents, mentors, career coaches and disseminators of best practices within healthcare,” explained Sherry Stofko who serves as a nurse educator for Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. While it sounds simple, it covers a variety of roles from professional development specialist, crisis peer support team developer and leader, professional coach and mentor, among other things.

Stofko has nearly 25 years of experience in hospital settings and has been with Saint Mary’s since 2012. While with the hospital, Stofko has been instrumental in a variety of education programs including creating a multi-month residency program and co-developing and managing a clinical ladder program to help nurses succeed. In addition to her work at Saint Mary’s, Stofko founded an independent nursing education and consulting business called Capricorn Healthcare Consultants.

“I enjoy watching nurses become more engaged in their professional development,” said Stofko. “I believe the more I can engage nurses in their profession, the greater effect I have on the care we provide our community members.”

Stofko specifically has a heart for the northern Nevada community. “In 2002, I arrived in Carson City for a three-month traveling nurse assignment,” she reminisced. “I fell in love with the Reno-Tahoe area and never left. In 2013, after 17 years of direct patient-care nursing in emergency departments of all sizes and locations, I transitioned to nursing education.”

She added, “My personal joy is that I have a knack for making learning fun while still being meaningful, realistic and informative.”

Southern Nevada

Christina Madison, PharmD

Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Roseman University of Health Sciences

Founder and CEO
The Public Health Pharmacist

Having volunteered as a candy striper at UMC at the age of 12, Dr. Christina Madison’s love of healthcare runs deep.

“I caught the teaching bug and a love for medical education during my residency and have been working in academia ever since,” Madison explained. She has been with Roseman University for 13 years and is an associate professor of pharmacy with the school. In addition, she started a public health consulting firm called the Public Health Pharmacist.

Madison places a high value on education and believes it is something that is carried on throughout an individual’s life. She defines an educator as, “Someone with a passion for knowledge that values the impact of spreading that knowledge to others.” Madison went on to add, “I am a lifelong learner and continue to grow. My goal is to impart that love of learning to my students so they can continue to make a positive impact on their communities.”

In addition to her work as an educator, Madison is an expert in public health and infectious disease, which has made her an asset during the coronavirus crisis. “I have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Roseman to give my expert commentary to the public on updates regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and disease,” she explained. “Accurate, factual and reliable information getting out to the public has been imperative during these challenging times.”

With all of her accomplishments, Madison finds her work as an educator most fulfilling. She is most rewarded in, “getting to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals and showing them how far we have come as a profession, and how far we are going.”

Community Partner Heroes

Northern Nevada

Josiah “Sy” Johnson

Chief of Staff
Renown Health

I would define a community partner as a person or entity who recognizes greater good, external to themselves, and acts on that beyond the threshold of self-interest,” explained Josiah “Sy” Johnson. Johnson serves as chief of staff for Renown Health. He began his career in finance and accounting and moved into the healthcare realm nearly 20 years ago.

“I enjoyed working with healthcare organizations because the people and the values I found there resonated with me,” said Johnson. “People generally work in healthcare because they care about others and want to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.”

Johnson also wants to make a positive difference in people’s lives and feels he’s found a home that has allowed him to do that at Renown Health. In his role as chief of staff with the organization, Johnson is responsible for overseeing operations at Renown Regional Medical Center, Renown South Meadows Medical Center and Renown’s network service.

“I love contributing positively to the work we do and to the people doing the work,” said Johnson. “Any day I can go home after strenuous effort and note particular incidents where I know Renown achieved something meaningful for the people we serve, or where I feel I was able to contribute something meaningful to the life of an individual, I feel like was a worthwhile day.”

Johnson went on to explain how he is able to contribute to the community as a whole. “As a Renown Health executive, I feel responsible for the health of our community and for the wellbeing and development of our people at Renown,” he said. “Contributing to a successful team, focused on helping others, is my greatest joy working in healthcare.”

Southern Nevada

Shadaba Asad, MD

Medical Director of Infectious Disease

Luis Medina-Garcia, MD

Infectious Disease Physician

During a global pandemic infectious disease specialists are vital to helping care for those impacted. Two such specialists have established themselves as invaluable physicians during this time. Drs. Shadaba Asad and Luis Medina-Garcia work together at UMC and are on the frontlines of helping those afflicted with COVID-19.

“To me, medicine is about public service,” explained Asad. “I’ve spent my career working for organizations that are deeply involved in serving their communities. Being a community partner means responding to the unique needs of the people you serve while striving to improve the lives of your friends and neighbors across the community.”

“A community partner rises to the occasion to meet the needs of its members, especially during difficult times,” added Medina-Garcia. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, UMC has served as an integral partner to our community.”

Asad joined UMC in 2013 and was drawn to infectious disease medicine during her time as a medical student. Medina-Garcia too felt a calling to work in infectious disease medicine and joined Asad at UMC in 2016, having previously worked as a medical student at the hospital. Both are rewarded by the work they do and feel blessed to be able to assist the southern Nevada community during this time.

“At UMC, I have the opportunity to work with a world-class team of professionals who share my enthusiasm for serving the community,” said Asad. “I’m able to leave work every day knowing that I made a difference and had a positive impact on my community. That is an incredibly rewarding feeling.”

Medina-Garcia added, “There is nothing more rewarding than helping patients recover and return home to their families.”

Humanitarian Heroes

Southern Nevada

Michael Gardner, MD

Vice Dean of Clinical Affairs and Strategy
UNLV School of Medicine

President and CEO
UNLV School of Medicine

To me, a humanitarian is someone who puts the needs of others above themselves,” explained Dr. Michael Gardner. “It is reflected by a life of service.”

Serving in multiple roles at UNLV including vice dean for clinical affairs and strategy and a professor at the School of Medicine, president and CEO of UNLV Medicine, the clinical arm of the school, and an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health, Gardner illustrates a life of service. Originally from Texas, Gardner comes from a military family and worked as an active duty physician with the Air Force before moving to Las Vegas and working with the UNLV School of Medicine to help the new school get off the ground.

“My wife says I am a ‘fixer’,” explained Gardner. “She further labels me as fearless and not afraid to speak up to ensure the right things are done. Of course, my wife is always right.” Clearly an intelligent man, Gardner utilizes a hands-on approach that has been invaluable to the school. With Gardner’s assistance, UNLV Medicine mobilized a curbside testing center for COVID-19 which has been able help nearly 20,000 people. That’s just one example of dozens where Gardner was able to improve the organizations at which he worked.

“At each place I was asked to ‘fix something’, I was able to bring people together and make things better for the patients and communities,” he explained. “I have been blessed that I have been able to work with so many wonderful people in so many organizations where the primary focus has been serving those who often would not get care anywhere else. Being a part of that, helping with that effort and, later in life, leading that effort, has been a great reward for which I am grateful.”

Volunteer Heroes

Northern Nevada

Medical, Physician Assistant Nursing, Health Sciences and Social Work Students

University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and University of Nevada, Reno

Sometimes a group comes along with such an exceptional record of service that they must all be recognized together. Such are the students enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Medicine, Orvis School of Nursing, School of Community Health Sciences and School of Social Work. This group of students have led and participated in comprehensive volunteer efforts to assist during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Wishing I was able to be on the front lines as a nurse, and not yet having the qualifications, I began looking for other opportunities I could participate in to help during these hard times,” explained Taylor Tito, a UNR nursing student at the Orvis School of Nursing.

Michael Taylor, a medical student added, “Being sidelined during the spring of our third year of medical school was not something anyone wanted. Working closely with fellow nurses, physician assistants, social workers and physicians in the community, prior to COVID-19, motivated me to help them – as much as I could – from becoming overwhelmed with an influx of patients during this time.”

Since March of this year, the students have collectively logged over 4,900 volunteer hours from community call center triage to elderly community outreach and ensuring food security, and everything in between. Where this group saw a need, they worked to fill that need.

“By definition, a volunteer is someone who gives their time and effort to an organization,” said Alyssa Webb, a community health science student. “However, I think we can all agree it is something much deeper than that. Volunteers all come together to work for a common goal with the interest of helping others. Volunteering is about paying it forward.”

“We all stepped up in a time of great need and we did it without anything in return,” added Sierra Johnson a social work student. “We placed ourselves in other’s shoes, time and time again.”

Southern Nevada

Cassandra McDiarmid

Third-Year Medical Student
Touro University Nevada, College of Osteopathic Medicine

“I think sometimes people think that volunteering requires a lot of time, skill or effort. In reality, the smallest thing can help someone else,” said Cassandra McDiarmid, a third-year medical student with Touro University Nevada. “We all have skills that can be used in a variety of ways and it’s important to come together as a community, especially in times of crisis, such as now, giving back and helping each other.”

McDiarmid has a passion for helping others, While serving in a variety of student leadership roles, McDiarmid used her skills to lead Touro University, and her fellow students, in the creation of #MedReady, a website that offers a variety of volunteer services to the community during the COVID-19 crisis. The website is McDiarmid’s brainchild and helps Touro students find volunteer opportunities in three primary areas, K-12 online tutoring, undergrad and MCAT online tutoring and general community assistance.

“We have been able to provide over 500 hours of medical volunteering, assisting at the Cashman Center with COVID screening,” she said. “We also provide pre-health profession mentoring and tutoring for the community, something I am extremely passionate about.”

She started the #MedReady system with the help of fellow Touro students Parisun Shoga and Ashlie Bloom and under the guidance of College of Osteopathic Medicine’s dean, Dr. Wolfgang Gilliard.

“The most rewarding thing has been hearing how much the people we are helping appreciate what we are doing, as well as hearing from our student volunteers at Touro the impact this has had on them,” said McDiarmid. “Early on in the COVID pandemic, the number of students who reached out to me and asked what we are doing and how we could help the community was astonishing. I’m so grateful to be a member of this community that just wants to help.”

McDiarmid has a bright future in medicine and plans to pursue a residency in obstetrics/gynecology. She is also currently conducting research in women’s health education to identify deficits in health knowledge and create ways to improve health literacy.

Innovator Heroes

Northern Nevada

Mark Pandori, PhD

Director, Nevada State Public Health Laboratory
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

To Mark Pandori, an innovator is someone who, “cares enough about the challenges they face [to] use their skills and experience to face the challenge in new and previously unrecognized ways.”

He serves as director for the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory (NSPHL) at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) School of Medicine in addition to serving as an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. The NSPHL protects, maintains and improves the health of the community through the rapid detection of public health threats, including COVID-19. At the height of the pandemic, Governor Steve Sisolak called on Pandori to serve the COVID-19 task force because of his innovative approach to meet Nevada’s testing needs.

“In a public health lab, the testing and analyses that we do have two means of impact,” explained Pandori. “One is that they are medical and can help individuals live healthier lives. The other is that we can gather tremendous ‘intelligence’ about what is going on in the population as a whole. To be able to assist at both levels is very gratifying.”

Under Pandori’s leadership, the NSPHL was the first public health lab in the nation to construct collection kits, which are used to collect a specimen from a patient through nasal swabbing. By teaming up with UNR’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Pandori and his team have been able to facilitate faster testing for the state.

“Effective people pay attention,” said Pandori. “When you have situational awareness in your job, you will be able to make good decisions.”He went on to add that it’s important to, “recognize that what you do actually matters. When you are honestly convinced that your work matters to other people, or the world, then the rest takes care of itself.”

Southern Nevada

Kevin Kapov, DO

Chief Clinical Innovation Officer
Southwest Medical

When “innovation” is part of an individual’s professional title, it’s likely a word they know well. That’s certainly true for Dr. Kevin Kapov who serves as chief clinical innovation officer at Southwest Medical. In his role, Kapov works to set the organization apart while improving health outcomes. This work led him to start the Center for Clinical Innovation to bring fresh ideas to a clinical environment.

“An innovator looks at the standard situation and thinks about it differently,” said Kapov. “I attempt to look at a task from the point of the end-user, be it the medical provider or patient. A successful outcome makes life easier for the end-user.”

The center that Kapov launched and helps run looks at possible innovations and tries to create clinical pathways to implement them for providers and patients. The center supports the innovations through technology, training resources and support.

“It is great to find solutions that result in an improved work environment for staff, a better outcome for the patient or improved efficiency in our ability to deliver care,” Kapov said.

The Center for Clinical Innovations has a variety of focuses the team looks at to improve in some way. Some of the innovations from the center, such as a continuous glucose monitoring program, have been scaled up and are being used throughout southern Nevada with the hope to expand the program nationwide.

Having joined Southwest Medical in 2013, Kapov has found a calling helping the organization provide innovations for providers and patients. “I entered healthcare later in life,” explained Kapov. “I enjoy assisting people in solving issues. Sometimes it just takes another set of eyes on the issue to get through it; that is what we do in medicine.”

Non-Profit Heroes

Northern Nevada

Cari Herington

Executive Director
Nevada Cancer Coalition

Having received her MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno, Cari Herington didn’t initially plan to work in healthcare.

“I really had no idea I would end up in healthcare,” she explained. “I graduated with a degree in business and marketing.” She was hired for a marketing position with an occupational medical company before moving to Reno and working at, what is now, the Renown Rehabilitation Hospital. “I suppose that healthcare really found me,” Herington added.

In 2011, she became the first executive director for the Nevada Cancer Coalition which brings together public and private partners across Nevada to collaborate on comprehensive cancer control efforts.

“The absolutely most rewarding aspect for me, both personally and professionally is connecting people,” said Herington. “Ultimately, seeing what can be accomplished when we all work together is the best.”

Under her guidance, the Nevada Cancer Coalition has become a vital force for cancer patients in Nevada helping to bring organizations together that normally wouldn’t be partners. The organization is working on a number of initiatives, from cancer awareness to educational efforts. Most recently, the organization launched ThriveNV which partners those in need of care with a patient navigator to help guide them through the healthcare continuum following a cancer diagnosis.

“It is a privilege to do this work, work I sincerely believe in, and I hope that shines through in what I do every day,” said Herington. “I am most proud of bringing together organizations across the state to make significant changes in reducing Nevada’s burden of cancer. From working together to build programs that fill gaps and address needs, to working together on statewide policy changes to increase access to care in our state, it’s big stuff. I’m extremely proud to be a part of it.”

Southern Nevada

Alan Ikeda, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Cure 4 the Kids Foundation

“Every day I keep trying to do more for individual patients and their families,” explained Dr. Alan Ikeda.

Ikeda’s drive to do more is essential in his role as chief medical officer at Cure 4 the Kids Foundation where he consistently works to improve patient treatments and encourages collaboration with other organizations.

“We at Cure 4 the Kids Foundation believe that cancer treatment is more than just chemotherapy,” said Ikeda. “It takes a lot of hard work and effort to ensure treatment is accurate, streamlined and administered properly.”

Under his leadership, the non-profit works to treat children holistically, looking at the individual rather than simply their disease. He advocates for inclusion in clinical studies and oversees medical staff, administrators and physicians within the organization to maintain high standards.

“We acknowledge that cancer treatment has an impact on the social, financial, education and emotional aspects for our children,” said Ikeda. “It impacts family time and enjoying other events. Thus, we have professionals in other areas such as physical therapy, child life, neuropsychology, teaching and counseling available on-site.” He went on to add, “In addition to the other support we provide, we are about to debut the state’s first education center within our clinic. Through a partnership with the Clark County School District (CCSD), Cure 4 the Kids Foundation will have a certified CCSD teacher on-site to work with children receiving treatment.”

Ikeda is passionate about his work and the mission of Cure 4 the Kids Foundation. “It’s an outstanding mission,” he said. “I believe that people recognize what we do is special and know that to make it happen it takes a lot of hard work and effort.”

Physician Heroes

Northern Nevada

Donald Mason, MD

Critical Care Medical Director
Northern Nevada Medical Center

“A good physician will carefully listen to their patients,” explained Dr. Donald Mason. “This can be exceedingly difficult in these days of ever-increasing productivity demands.”

Mason serves as critical care medical director for Northern Nevada Medical Center (NNMC), which seems a far cry from his college studies in electrical engineering. But, it was that interest that led him to digital imaging, which was first being applied to medicine in the 1970s. Having a previous understanding of the complexities of healthcare from friends and family in the field, Mason decided to pursue a medical career. In that pursuit he discovered an affinity for intensive care and eventually landed at NNMC.

In addition to carefully listening to patients and their needs, Mason believes that physicians must know when to ask for help, and empathy is essential. “In the ICU (intensive care unit), this empathy needs to extend to the family,” Mason said. “As is often the case, they are proxies for the patient and are being asked to make complex and difficult decisions with imperfect tools at their disposal.”

Mason’s empathetic nature has served him well in his career as a physician and he is greatly admired by his colleagues for his work. When asked what he finds most rewarding in that work, he said it was being able to provide teaching moments to others, showcase his admiration to the staff he works with and, “obviously, the successes – both great and small.”

Mason went on to list the proudest moments in his career and said that it was, “Certainly those scattered victories where a patient for whom I was caring for was rescued from what seemed like certain death.”

Southern Nevada

Deborah Kuhls, MD

Professor of Surgery, Chief, Section of Critical Care
University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine

Medical Director, Trauma ICU

Dr. Deborah Kuhls is passionate about the work she does for the southern Nevada community. She has been in healthcare for 27 years and worked in Nevada for 20 of those years. She currently serves multiple roles as a professor of surgery for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Medicine and a program director for the school’s Surgical Care Fellowship Program, among other roles. Kuhls is also a medical director for the trauma intensive care unit at UMC in southern Nevada.

Kuhls has been on the frontlines of the many crisis’ southern Nevada has faced in recent years from the October 1 shooting in 2017, where she quickly helped implement the hospital’s mass casualty plan, to the more recent COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation. Her calm and comprehensive leadership is directly responsible for saving countless lives.

When the UNLV School of Medicine began three years ago, Kuhls answered the call of educator to help train the next generation of physicians. She is an advocate for education and believes medical professionals have a responsibility to share their expertise to medical groups with less medical sophistication, both in the U.S. and around the world.

“The more you learn about Dr. Kuhls, the more you realize that she is a physician who believes in service responding to concern, and involvement by highest commitment,” said Peter Harasim, editorial associate director for the UNLV School of Medicine. “Dr. Kuhls understands that the cause of better healthcare in the community is still ahead of us, that it is an enduring purpose. It is a call to arms without bloodshed or violence, something that she has dedicated her life to. We are fortunate to have her in southern Nevada.”

Lifetime Achievement Heroes

Northern Nevada

Jen Richards, PhD

Chief Nursing Officer, Acute Care Services
Renown Health

“I believe achievement is defined many different ways,” said Dr. Jen Richards. “From my perspective, it is about making a difference very day, sometimes large and often small, and leaving the world, your community, your work, in a better place than how you found it.”

Richards began her healthcare career in 1995 as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and discovered she had found her calling. She’s done everything from working on the frontlines of healthcare to serving as an educator and moving into leadership. Today she serves as chief nursing officer for the acute care services division of Renown Health.

Interestingly, Richards believed, from a young age, that she was destined to be a teacher. However, when someone close to her was involved in a serious car accident, and she saw the care he received while hospitalized, and the contributions of one nurse to that care, Richards saw her calling change. “First and foremost, I care about people,” said Richards. “I care about inspiring and empowering people to be their best selves. I love mentoring others and watching them achieve what is important to them, whether personally or professionally.”

Richards has just retired from her 21-year career at Renown. Looking back, she said the most rewarding part of her work is, “Seeing people set their mind to something and accomplish it. And, maybe to know that I was able to help in some small way.”

She added, “One thing I have learned is that there is never ending change in healthcare but what remains constant is the relationships we get to have with the people we do this hard work with every day.”

She sums up the concept of Lifetime Achievement with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”

Southern Nevada

John Fildes, MD

Associate Dean for External Affairs, Professor, and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Surgery
University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine

Dr. John Fildes began his career in healthcare in the South Bronx of New York during the 1980s. From there he served in a multitude of roles that encompassed research, education, trauma and surgical critical care, among others. In 1996, Fildes was recruited to help grow UMC from a Level 2 Trauma Center into a program with a solid reputational. In 1999, Fildes saw UMC become the first, and only, Level 1 Trauma Center in Nevada.

Today Fildes works as an associate dean for external affairs, a professor and was the inaugural chair of the Department of Surgery with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Medicine.

“Lifetime achievement is the sum of notable success that someone achieves during their professional life,” explained Fildes. “Each of these successes must be evaluated on their merits and judged to be outstanding in their field.” With a lifetime of success to choose from, Fildes’ career would certainly fit that definition.

When evaluating what it takes to be successful, Fildes advice is to, “Always listen and seek to understand what you are hearing. Treat everyone the way you would want your family to be treated. Work hard, be thorough and always finish strong.” Finally, he added, “Always work toward the shared vision.”

Fildes truly has a heart for his patients and has made them the focus of his career. “Patient care is the most rewarding part of my work,” he said. “Patient care, at its core, is about alleviating pain and suffering while working towards a cure. I am grateful that I can help patients and provide a positive healthcare experience.”


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