Clinical Center News
Winter 2022

Clinical Center staff take home 2021 NIH Director’s awards

150 staff recognized for outstanding contributions

Dr. Karen Frank
Dr. Karen Frank
Dr. Christine Grady
Dr. Christine Grady
Michael Alexander
Michael Alexander
Dr. Ronald M. Summers
Dr. Ronald M. Summers

The pandemic isn’t over, but some of the hard work in getting us closer to that goal has been recognized by the NIH Director. Dr. Francis Collins announced the winners of the 2021 Director’s awards and Clinical Center staff featured prominently.

There were 150 people recognized in group awards, with an additional five individual award winners in four different categories.

Among the groups recognized were the NIH Asymptomatic Testing Team who planned and implemented a site in the NIH Clinical Center to screen for SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic staff. As a result of the efficiency of the testing site, the hospital was able to expand testing to include the rest of the NIH campus with no increase in staffing levels and served as a model to other NIH sites and federal agencies.

The NIH COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Team was acknowledged for superior efforts to plan and operationalize a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in the NIH Clinical Center to enable administration of vaccine doses for NIH staff. The efficient design and operations of the clinic ensured the NIH successfully administered all available doses with no waste, little or no wait times for staff and streamlined reporting.

The Critical Care COVID-19 Transport Team was recognized for developing air and ground transport procedures for Critical Care COVID-19 patients coming to the NIH Clinical Center. Early in the process when ground transport was not available to pick up a patient at the helipad, the ICU Urgent Transport Team and the NIH Fire Department responded to bring patients to the ICU.

The Clinical Center Nursing Executive Team was acknowledged for their leadership in the planning and execution of efforts to support the National Institutes of Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic reached community level spread, keeping the occupants of Building 10 safe became a priority. In March 2020, nursing staff volunteers and USPHS Commissioned Corps Officers set up symptom screening areas and 100% masking was incorporated to keep people safe in the hospital.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Chain Group received a shout out for outstanding service in the planning and distribution of PPE, ensuring safety and health during the 2020 national COVID-19 pandemic. During this critical time, this team established and improved processes to monitor, allocate, and inventory proper PPE usage across the NIH campus.

The DLM COVID-19 Sample Accessioning Team was recognized for exceptional performance and demonstration of technical abilities as health technicians (phlebotomists) at the NIH Clinical Center. Since the rapid launch of COVID-19 testing platforms in early 2020 the Accessioning Team processes thousands of COVID-19 test samples per week.

The Patient Support Services Department Customer Service and Support Team was acknowledged for exceptional customer service and support provided to patients, research teams and Clinical Center departments during the pandemic. Staff excelled in customer service, willingly took on additional responsibilities and worked extra hours to support the NIH Clinical Center during this difficult year.

The NIH Clinical Center Medical Supply Technician Team was recognized for its high-quality customer service focused on PPE for the safety of NIH staff and patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This dynamic, dedicated and collaborative group of individuals displayed highly specialized skills and expertise while working together to maintain sufficient levels of PPE in support of the hospital, NIH Institutes and Centers and many other stakeholders throughout the pandemic. Their efforts solidified the NIH Clinical Center’s ability to support staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic.

Clinical Center staff also received five individual awards.

Dr. Karen M. Frank acknowledgement for her exceptional dedication and leadership to rapidly deploy and sustain COVID-19 testing capabilities for the NIH Clinical Center. Dr. Frank served as the Lead for the launch of the Clinical Center and the NIH’s robust and reliable COVID-19 testing program which set benchmarks for the rest of region and leading clinical research facilities nation-wide.

The high volume, efficient, accurate testing for SARS-CoV-2 that Dr. Frank established and maintains has been absolutely essential for the safety of our patients, our staff and for the continued clinical care and research endeavors at the NIH during the pandemic.

Dr. Christine Grady was recognized for her exceptional efforts to identify and navigate the ethical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grady has put in substantial efforts to support the NIH community with the ethical challenges related to COVID-19. She organized a series of virtual discussion sessions for NIH staff to help them consider and deal with challenging ethical issues related to the pandemic and caring for people with COVID-19.

Former Clinical Center Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Tara N. Palmore received the nod for working tirelessly as a dedicated epidemiologist, physician, scientist and institutional leader during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Palmore’s advocacy for staff safety throughout the pandemic, collaboration with the Occupational Medical Service (OMS) and dedication to the CC pandemic response was cited in her selection.

Michael A. Alexander was recognized for his ability to consistently exhibit teamwork and professionalism towards everyone he encounters. Stationed at the Main Lobby Hospitality desk, Alexander's professional and pleasant demeanor were attributed to the welcoming atmosphere for patients and staff throughout the hospital. He has been recognized by numerous patients, visitors and staff for his thorough knowledge of hospital locations, departments and resources.

Finally, Dr. Ronald M. Summers received the Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring Award for exemplary performance while demonstrating significant leadership, skill and ability in serving as a mentor. Over the course of his career at NIH, Summers has mentored or is mentoring 111 fellows and students, including 26 post-doctoral fellows, four clinical fellows, 17 medical students, one graduate student, 35 post-baccalaureate fellows, 25 undergraduates (including summer students) and four high school students.

Read the complete staff listing of the Clinical Center awards. Read the full list of all NIH Director's awards.

- Donovan Kuehn

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