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AAKP Announces 2016 Medal of Excellence Winners

The American Association of Kidney Patients to Honor Kidney Healthcare Professionals with Medal of Excellence Award

TAMPA, FL – The American Association of Kidney Patients, the nation’s leading patient education and advocacy group, proudly announces the 2016 Medal of Excellence Award winners. The AAKP Medal of Excellence is the Association’s highest honor for health care professionals. The award recognizes visionaries whose insight and perseverance have led to dramatic advances that improve patient care. The 2016 award winners include:

Physician Category
•         Richard Gibney, MD of Waco, TX
•         Edward Jones, MD, MBA of Philadelphia, PA
Nursing Category
•         Katrina Russell, RN, CCN of Seattle, WA
•         Karen Walton-Brown, RN, BSN, CNN of Dallas, TX
Social Work Category
•         Wendy Funk Schrag, LMSW, ACSW of Newton, KS
Dietitian Category
•         Linda McCann, RN, CSR, LD of Eagle, ID
•         Rita Dimmitt-Solomon, RD, CSR, LDN of Nashville, TN

A selection committee comprised of highly renowned leaders in the renal community, members of the AAKP Medical Advisory Board and past Medal of Excellence recipients chose the honorees. Recipients are national and international figures who have been in the forefront of scientific advances in kidney care.

“When I look at this year’s outstanding slate of award winners, I’m struck by a powerful common theme – unparalleled talent of individuals whose impact and genius have left an indelible mark on the kidney community,” stated Paul T. Conway, AAKP President.  “Each award winner and their career spanning achievements exemplify the best of what the kidney community is about. AAKP is honored to recognize their outstanding accomplishments.”

The Medal of Excellence winners will be recognized throughout the 2016 year.  The first recognition event is the Medal of Excellence Award Dinner taking place at the RPA Annual Meeting, Friday, March 18, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, AZ. This program will recognize all Medal of Excellence Award Winners.  Tickets to attend the dinner may be purchased for $125/each on the AAKP website or by calling 813-400-2395.  Fellow colleagues, members of the renal community and RPA meeting attendees are encouraged to join in honoring the distinguished physician recipients and helping AAKP continue its mission to improve the quality of life for kidney patients through education, advocacy, and the fostering of patient communities.

For additional information on this year’s award recipients, recognition events scheduled to honor the awardees, or to sponsor the 2016 Medal of Excellence program, please visit www.aakp.org/community/programs-events or contact Diana Clynes, Director of Programs and Services, at dclynes@aakp.org.  See below for additional information on the 2016 Medal of Excellence Award Winners:

Dr. Richard Gibney
Richard Gibney, MD finished his Nephrology fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio in 1977.  He then opened the first dialysis unit in Waco, Texas.  Since then it has grown to 12 dialysis units, servicing 4 hospitals, with 9 Nephrologists and 2 Nurse Practitioners, providing Home Therapy, Nocturnal Therapy, and Empowered Independent In-Center Dialysis, and traditional “Hunker Down” Therapy, to approximately 800 patients between Austin and Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Gibney has routinely demonstrated his desire to achieve the best patient outcomes. The Fresenius Medical Care facilities under Dr. Gibney’s supervision have consistently shown to have the best patient outcomes of all company’s 2,200 facilities, these patient outcomes included the lowest mortaility, the lowest hospitalization, the lowest catheter rates and a very high rate for transplant referral.

Dr. Gibney and his colleagues continue their sincere efforts to improve the rehabilitation of dialysis-dependent patients by encouraging self-care, home therapies, nocturnal therapy and empowered patients on in-center treatment to be as independent and practice self-control as much as possible.

Perhaps the most impressive outcome at the facilities supervised by Dr. Gibney is a culture of empowering patient to actively participate in their own care, and to experience pride, joy, hope and optimism instead of depression, fatigue and hopelessness, again highlighting the patient-centered care that has been his focus.

Dr. Edward Jones
Edward R. Jones, MD, MBA is a practicing nephrologist from Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Jones is Counselor to the Renal Physician Association (RPA), which represents practicing nephrologists in the US. He is Chairman of Kidney Care Partners which is a coalition of the renal community that forms a singular voice advocating for the community.   He serves as a medical director for Fresenius Medical Care in Philadelphia.  Additionally, Dr. Jones is an attending physician at The Albert Einstein Medical Center (AEMC) and Chestnut Hill Hospital (CHH), and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Temple University Hospital.

Dr. Jones graduated from The Medical University of South Carolina and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Temple University Hospital (TUH). He later served as Chief Medical Resident at Temple University Hospital.  He was a fellow in the Renal and Electrolyte Section of the University of Pennsylvania after which he joined the faculty of Temple where he ran the renal physiology laboratory while teaching and providing patient care. Dr. Jones received his MBA in healthcare management from St Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

As an educator, Dr. Jones advanced to tenured Professor of Medicine and Physiology in five years. He subsequently moved to Germantown Hospital where he became Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Jones then became Medical Director of Medical Management for AEMC where he developed disease management programs and had oversight over risk contracts. He returned to the practice of nephrology in 2001.

Dr. Jones currently teaches at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Albert Einstein Medical Center and Chestnut Hill Hospital and is actively involved in oversight of clinical research studies.

Katrina Russell, RN, CNN
Katrina Russell RN, CNN, and Chief Operations Officer is the co-owner of Dialysis Consulting Group, Inc. (DCG) a dialysis consulting and management services organization. Katrina has been a registered nurse since 1981 and has practiced nephrology nursing since 1984.

Katrina served four terms on the National Renal Administrators Association Board of Directors, including President, and is currently Chair of the Executive Board of the Northwest Renal Network (ESRD Network 16). She previously served on the Network 16 Medical Review Board and has also contracted with Northwest Renal Network, and the Southeastern Kidney Council (ESRD Network 6) as a Quality Management Consultant.

Katrina is committed to promoting high quality patient care and ensuring all dialysis staff are well educated to meet dialysis and CKD patients’ needs. She has performed many roles within various dialysis settings from staff nurse to Head Nurse to Administrative Director in both hospital based and freestanding facilities and is presently contracted as the COO for a five facility non-profit dialysis company on the Olympic Peninsula near Seattle, WA. She has made numerous educational presentations at local, regional and national conferences on a wide variety of topics. Katrina is excited to be joining the Management Board of Health Insight, the Medicare Quality Innovation Network Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) in Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah that was recently awarded the CMS contracts for ESRD Networks 16 and 18 and she hopes to have even greater influence on the quality of care for CKD patients in that role.

Karen Walton-Brown, RN, BSN, CNN
Karen Walton-Brown, RN, BSN, CNN has spent over 30 years in the nephrology field. Currently she serves as Vice President of Clinical Operations for US Renal Care. Prior to joining U.S. Renal Care in April, she was vice president of quality for the Southwest business unit of Fresenius Medical Care. Prior to that, she was director of clinical services for Renal Care Group. She has also held management positions with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and East Texas Medical Center. Her experience includes chronic outpatient, acute inpatient, home therapy, renal transplant and pheresis. She has directed the education processes for both staff and patients as it relates to end stage renal disease.

Ms. Walton-Brown is a certified nephrology nurse. She served as president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, East Texas Chapter, in 1993 and 1994.

Wendy Funk Schrag, LMSW, ACSW
Wendy Funk Schrag, LMSW, ACSW is Vice President of State Government Affairs at Fresenius Medical Care North America. She earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and a degree in Social Work from Bethel College.

While working for Renal Care Group, Ms. Schrag was on the developing team of the Right Start Program which supports patients new to dialysis. She has done extensive work regarding end of life care, including being a member of the steering committee for the Supportive Care for Kidney Patients Coalition. Ms. Schrag is a long-term volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation, having served as Chair of the NKF Council of Nephrology Social Workers, a amember of the Heartland Kidney Network Board of Directors, a member of the National ESRD Patient Safety Initiative and also the National Association of Social Workers.

Rita Solomon-Dimmitt, RD, CSR, LDN
Rita Solomon-Dimmitt, RD, CSR, LDN is a registered dietitian at the Vanderbilt Dialysis Clinic, managed by Fresenius Medical Care North America.  She has worked with all stages of kidney disease: hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis (adult and pediatric), CKD and transplant.  She has had experience as a dialysis facility Administrator and Operations Coordinator for Renal Care Group.  She has been invited to present at AAKP & NKF meetings and authored patient educational material, and served as NKF Council on Renal Nutrition Region II Representative, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Renal Practice Group Board Member, NKF Kidney Learning System Editorial Board and the NKF, Middle Tennessee, Board member and past President.

Her service has included opportunities to co-chair FMC Nutrition Services Advisory Board and to co-chair Fresenius Medical Care NSAB Home Therapies Committee.  The registered dietitian is a strategic member of the interdisciplinary team regarding nutrition and CKD.  She believes we must identify opportunities to educate people to become more self-aware and provide them with appropriate tools to achieve their goals.  Mrs. Solomon-Dimmitt believes registered dietitians have the ability to empower people with lifestyle modification to effect positive change.

Linda McCann, RD, CSR, LD
Linda McCann, RD, CSR, LD has been a nephrology dietitian for over 40 years, focused on quality patient care, professional management, and clinical consulting on information technology applications for kidney disease and nutrition.  She is currently a Nephrology Nutrition Consultant/Speaker.  She has a long history of patient advocacy and professional activities, including speaking on various nephrology topics around the world and mentoring other professionals.

Linda a member of both the original KDOQI and KDIGO advisory committees and work groups that developed and published clinical practice guidelines and recommendations for bone and mineral abnormalities in CKD.  She is the author of the National Kidney Foundation publication, Pocket Guide to Nutrition Assessment of the CKD Patient, in its fifth edition, which has printed, and online versions.  She has authored book chapters and published multiple peer-reviewed papers in the area of nephrology nutrition.  Linda has also received numerous awards such as the Recognized Renal Dietitian (CRN), Multiple Outstanding Service Awards (NKF), Award of Distinguished Service (CRN Northern California), Champion of Hope (Northern California NKF), Joel D. Kopple Distinguished Lectureship in Renal Nutrition (NKF-CRN), and San Jose Business Journal 2012 Women of Influence.  She continues to participate in activities, professional and patient-centered, that have the potential to improve patient care and quality of life for those with kidney disease.                                                    ###
AAKP is a voluntary non-profit organization founded by kidney patients, which for more than 45 years, has been dedicated to improving the quality of life of kidney patients through education, advocacy and the fostering of patient communities. The programs offered by AAKP inform and inspire patients and their families to better understand their condition, adjust more readily to their circumstances, and assume more normal, productive lives in their communities.