JMH, Smyth County Community Hospital team members honored with Servant's Heart Awards


Five Southwest Virginia team members, representing Johnston Memorial Hospital and Smyth County Community Hospital, have received Mountain States Health Alliance’s highest honor, the Servant’s Heart Award.

Dr. Steve Sikora and volunteer Ron Domst from JMH and Dr. Michael Patrick, Angela Osborne and volunteer Helen Burkett from Smyth County Community Hospital were selected for the annual award.

The Servant’s Heart Award honors team members, volunteers and medical staff members who model the philosophy of patient-centered care. Mountain States introduced the Servant’s Heart Award in 2004 for team members and in 2006 for medical staff members. They are recognized by their peers for exemplifying the meaning of being a caregiver.

Only 11 awards were given out this year from across Mountain States’ 13,000-plus team members, volunteers, doctors and affiliated physicians.

Dr. Steve Sikora, medical director for the Emergency Department at JMH, is known for his calm, patient-centered approach to working in the often stressful ER environment. Originally from Bristol, he practiced in the ER in Nevada for several years before coming to Abingdon about six years ago.

The nomination that was submitted for Sikora stated: “Dr. Sikora never yells or loses his temper, even when circumstances are very trying. Patients appreciate his gentle approach. I have spoken with numerous patients who express appreciation for how wonderfully and simply he explains tests and treatments to them. He is very patient-centered in his approach to care.”

Among his duties, Sikora handles patient complaints, and “because he is patient and listens well, he is generally able to create positive outcomes for the patients,” the nomination stated.

Sikora has a wife and two daughters, and was noted in his recommendation letter for being a very attentive son who looks after his aging parents. He’s also very supportive of good causes in the community, including United Way and the JMH Auxiliary, as well as his church.

Ron Domst is one of the most visible people at JMH because he’s the guy who drives the courtesy cart, transporting patients to and from their cars. He warmly greets patients and families upon their arrival, and they are wished the best as they leave – and he does much more than that in the name of great patient care.

He has been a volunteer at JMH since 2007 and has more than 2,800 hours of service. His letter of recommendation for the Servant’s Heart Award stated that Domst “is seriously committed to his work as a volunteer and is always attuned to the individual needs of patients” and has been known to not only drive a customer to the entrance but to then assist them by wheelchair on to their intended area within the facility.

He assisted the volunteer Auxiliary in the evaluation of golf carts to purchase for the present courtesy cart program. He also volunteers to participate in quality improvement exercises and surveys within the hospital, and to continue working to sustain those improvements long after the exercises are completed.

Domst is also very active in the community, with a special passion for the Special Olympics as a member of the Abingdon Civitan Club. He volunteers with the Faith in Action local food pantry and assists the community in providing hot meals to more than 650 people on Christmas Day.

Angela Osborne, a lab tech specialist, is well-known both at the hospital and in the community for her volunteer spirit and her desire to help anyone in need. Her letter of recommendation stated that she “treats her patients with kindness, caring and empathy, with a bright smile on her face. She’s also loved by her fellow team members, not only those who work with her in the lab, but throughout the hospital.”

In addition to working in the lab, Osborne serves as community relations liaison for SCCH. She can often be seen at community events, local fairs, festivals and other events doing blood sugars, blood pressures and providing education.

She helped organize a coat drive for hospital team members in need. They were allowed to meet with Osborne in private to choose a coat for themselves or their family. She also oversees the hospital “wig closet” and has helped many women undergoing chemotherapy receive a wig to make them feel better about themselves.

Osborne is a board member with the local food bank, Loaves and Fishes. She identified the need in the community for CPR classes for the public, took it upon herself to get certified and then purchased supplies and equipment out of her own pocket. She also volunteers with the Chilhowie Elementary School after-school program, which is a partnership with Smyth County Community Hospital.

Dr. Michael Patrick, an internal medicine physician with Mountain States Medical Group, joined Smyth County Community Hospital in 2008 and has assisted in building a full-time hospitalist program and developing a new inpatient rehab program, as well as serving as medical director for both programs. He has also been actively engaged in physician leadership and VOS activities.

“During all this, he has worked his full-time job as one of our hospitalists at SCCH. This is amazing work, much of which was completed off hours on his personal time,” according to his Servant’s Heart letter of recommendation.

Patrick was described as “a tremendous leader” and as a “teacher, friend and mentor” to new hospitalists, and was commended for his tireless efforts to recruit hospitalists and establish one of the most stable hospitalist groups within Mountain States.

Patrick’s recommendation stated that he has made himself available to his hospitalist staff at all hours and been instrumental in working with the clinical team to reduce 30-day readmissions to one of the lowest rates in the system and in top decile performance nationwide. His leadership has helped improve patient length of stay and stays for observation admissions.

Helen Burkett has spent more than 50 years volunteering her service to the hospital and is a great advocate for residents at Francis Marion Manor Health and Rehabilitation.

She coordinates the volunteer program at Francis Marion Manor. At one point, her husband and mother were both residents of the Manor, so she was there seven days a week. She not only looked after them but also looked after all the patients as though they, too, were her relatives.

She knows and befriends all of the residents, meets their families and listens to the families’ thoughts about how to comfort their particular resident. She serves on the SCCH Auxiliary Board and takes special care to provide residents with things they need or enjoy receiving.

The Manor volunteers look to her for leadership and direction as she actively recruits in the community, regularly bringing in new volunteers.

Other 2014 Servant’s Heart Award winners were: Marlene Compton of Norton Community Hospital in Norton, Va.; Candace Mink, Dr. Sandra Brooks, Richard Blevins and Marie Gough from Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, Tenn.; and Dwayne Taylor of Sycamore Shoals Hospital in Elizabethton.


NOTE: For downloadable photos of your local Servant’s Heart Award winners, click on the links below.

Dr. Steve Sikora:

Ron Domst:

Dr. Michael Patrick, SCCH:

Helen Burkett, SCCH:

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