Oaklawn honors top physician and employee for 2016

MARSHALL – Aajay Shah, M.D., has been named Oaklawn’s 2016 Physician of the Year and Irene Johnston has been named Oaklawn’s Employee of the Year.

Shah, a cardiologist, was honored Tuesday during a gathering of Oaklawn staff members at the Franke Center for the Arts. The event included the presentation of service awards to 89 other employees.

Johnston, a registered nurse who has worked for Oaklawn since 2003, was nominated for educating, nurturing, fostering abilities and developing professionalism among Oaklawn staff members, said Ginger Williams, the hospital’s President and CEO.

 “The purpose of this award is to not only acknowledge a physician that exemplifies the culture and values of Oaklawn, but to also honor an individual that is inspiring to members of their profession and dedicated to the needs of their patients,” Williams said.

Johnston “has a thirst for excellence driven by a love and passion for nursing, which exemplifies brilliance,” Williams said, adding that Johnston also “embodies what it means to be a leader, a team player and a role model.”

Johnston is the 39th recipient of the employee honor, which Oaklawn has bestowed since 1978. Johnston also received a dozen red roses, an honorary pin, a monetary award and an engraved clock. Johnston’s name will be added to a plaque in the hospital’s front lobby. Last year’s recipient was Deb Lyng.

Shah is the sixth recipient of Oaklawn’s Physician of the Year Award. José Valle, M.D., received the inaugural award in 2011. Other winners were Thomas Neidlinger, M.D., in 2012; J. Summer Liston, M.D., in 2013; Hassan Beiz, M.D., in 2014; and Steven Yuill, M.D., in 2015.

No matter the age, sex or ethnicity of Shah’s patients, Williams said all are treated the same and with the utmost respect, and that Shah always discusses test results while visiting his patients.

“It’s a relief to the patient, especially when they can receive their results immediately,” Williams said. “This is great quality care!”

Shah, a native of the Indian state of Gujarat, joined Oaklawn Medical Group – Heart & Vascular Institute in 2013. He resides in Marshall with his wife Jayshree, son Amish and daughter Saloni.

As this year’s honored physician, Shah will direct a $500 donation to a charity of his choice, and his name will be placed on a plaque displayed in the hospital’s main entrance.

The physician award was established to recognize a physician who has demonstrated their commitment to Oaklawn’s culture and values, and to the community. To be nominated, a physician must have been a member of Oaklawn’s active medical staff for at least three years, and may be nominated by hospital staff, medical staff or members of the Board of Directors. Members of Oaklawn’s Medical Executive Committee made the final selection.

Shah received several nominations from a variety of departments throughout the organization, Williams said.  Those who nominated him for the honor made such comments as these:

“… is a very dedicated physician – to his/her patients and the staff at Oaklawn.”

“… is always available when needed … never speaks down to us; we feel like equals.”

“… is always willing to listen and give advice to staff and patients.”

Another highlight of the program was the presentation of service awards to 89 employees for specific levels of service. The awards were given to:

40 years: Virgilia Smith.

35 years: Carol Nearpass and Patricia VanValkenburg.

30 years: Christine Bush.

25 years: Kalie Powers and Julie Hammon.

20 years: Sheryl Angus, Susan Cole, Karen Swafford, Cherise Jackowski, Karen Hansom, Peggy Gordon, Theresa Shippell, Karen Weck, Laurie Blue and Margaret Brown.

15 years: Sharon Angus, Pamela Austin, Jacqueline Darling, Brandi Hoffman, Luann Hull, Kimberly Hurley, Jamie Kita, Carrie Klein, Joyce Payne, Diana Petersen, Peggy Roop, Deanna Smith, Phillip Smith, Nicole Southworth, Susan Speer and Kim Weaver.

10 years: Susan Barnes, Kathy Bayer, Robert Bohney, Kristen Cummins, Tammy Fisher, Jane Haefner, Stacie Helgesen, Warren Hepler, Brian Killewald, Sherry Kleinfelt, Kristin Kowitz, Sarah LaSalle, Anjale Monroe, Nicole Patrick, Erin Quinn, Charles Selinger, Bruce Smith, Shirley Stiles, Carissa Walker, Karla Wheeler, Sandra Winchell, Linda Wirtz, Joshua Wright, Amy Yeakey and Donna York.

Five years: Sharon Angus, Hassan Beiz, Michelle Burch, Damaris Dachteln, Howard Drews, Stacy Eagan, Devon Farkas, Diane Hall, Leigh Anna Harrington, Michael Herring, Rachelle Jester, Alan Johnson, Shobhana Joshi, Kathy Lietzke, Holly Kistler, Lauren Killewalj, Donald Koludrovich, Melissa Marshall, Asad Mehdi, Melissa Morrison, Ladonna Munox, Teresa Oswald, Susan Putnam, Michele Rogers, Keshia Severns, Lisa Sirks, Deborah Smith, Melissa Thompke, Felicia Tomich, Mickellena Wells, Tracy Winnie and Ann Worth.