2016 UI Physicians Clinical Award winners

The winners of the 2016 UI Physicians (UIP) Clinical Awards were presented at the annual UIP Members Meeting and Report, in conjunction with the Iowa Medical Mutual Insurance Company (IMMIC) Annual Members Meeting, on Monday, Oct. 17, at the Carver College of Medicine.

Clinician of the Year Award

Given to a clinician who most embodies those aspects of a truly great patient service provider, including technical skill, humanism to patients and families, collaboration with colleagues, and advocacy.

David Bender, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology


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David Bender, MD, clinical associate professor of gynecologic oncology and a leader of the robotics surgery program, is one of the busiest and most accomplished technical surgeons in the institution. He is an outstanding advocate for his patients and their families. Patients with cancer need and deserve an engaged physician for whom they are “top of mind.” Among Bender’s strengths, his advocacy for his patients is his most compelling characteristic. A resident in the department noted, UI Hospitals and Clinics also receives many referrals from throughout the state and region specifically because Dr. Bender is here to care for the most challenging patients and clinical situations. Dr. Bender enjoys a national reputation as a top gynecologic oncology clinician and surgeon. He has been nominated to become the new principal investigator for the UI to represent this institution at NRG Oncology. This national organization is comprised of hundreds of institutions and academic practitioners who care for patients with cancer. His ongoing support to all division members creates a positive environment that contributes substantially to the ability to hire new faculty colleagues.

“He is the go-to person for the most difficult pelvic surgical cases. He is the person I would select to care for my family members if the need arose.”

Innovations in Clinical Care Award

Given to an individual or team for implementation of an innovative new program or process that improves service to patients.

Ron Abrons, MD, Anesthesia


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Rapid and effective management of airway emergencies is an essential aspect of patient care. To achieve the best possible results, physicians, nurses, and other providers must have immediate access to a standardized “package” of airway management devices; confidence that the devices will be in operational order; knowledge of where exactly the devices are stored in the package; and confidence that the package is identical in all clinical care environments. Mismanagement of airway crises rapidly leads to patient death. Abrons recognized the need to improve this aspect of our patient care and initiated development of the UI Hospitals and Clinics Joint Service Airway Cart (JSAC). Abrons led the implementation and dissemination of the JSAC and has personally provided inservice presentations. By conceiving and initiating the JSAC project, Abrons contributed significantly to improved safety in our work environment. JSACs have been utilized heavily by multiple services for emergency and anticipated difficult airway cases throughout the hospital and have been described as “lifesaving” in at least one case when an emergency surgical airway was needed and adequate equipment would not have otherwise been readily available. The JSAC project won the top award at the 2013 UI Health Care Quality Improvement Symposium and was presented nationally at the Society for Airway Management meeting in Philadelphia.

Patient Satisfaction and Service Excellence Award

Given to an individual or team in recognition of outstanding patient satisfaction. Metrics can include Press Ganey Total Score, most improved score, or other patient feedback.

Gwen Beck, MD, Internal Medicine


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Gwen Beck, MD, has been a superb, caring, and devoted clinician for many years. Her patients greatly appreciate the care she provides, as evidenced from the many overwhelmingly favorable comments we receive through Press Ganey surveys. She is extolled for her professionalism, conscientiousness, high-quality care, and successful efforts to engage her patients in health care decision-making. Beck’s Press Ganey scores for patient satisfaction show that she is above the benchmark for all 10 provider subscale categories. More impressively, her cumulative patient satisfaction scores are the most outstanding among all faculty physicians in the UI Department of Internal Medicine, with more than 100 comments.

A small sampling of the Press Ganey survery comments highlights Beck’s attributes:

“She always asks if I have questions. We go through them and she answers them in a way that I understand. Best of all, I feel like we are partners in my care.”

“Dr. Beck is amazing, and I am so thrilled to have her as my primary care physician.”

“Dr. Beck always reviews my records thoroughly before my visits, gives me her full attention, and brings up preventative and health maintenance concerns.”

“She’s well-prepared when she enters the room and listens intently, never rushing me through.”

Excellence in Quality Award

Given to an individual or team in recognition of outstanding quality of care provided to patients. Recipients will have demonstrated excellence in reportable measures of quality, benchmarked patient outcomes, or improvements in internally measured outcomes.

Jodi Tate, MD, Psychiatry


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Jodi Tate, MD, has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of care provided to patients. She has developed a multidisciplinary team to assist with the treatment of individuals with intellectual disability and psychiatric illness. Tate serves those with intellectual disability, which is a difficult subset of psychiatric patients. She also has a number of administrative duties in the UI Department of Psychiatry. Rather than letting her administrative duties pull her away from her patients, Tate has used her administrative skills to essentially create a new inpatient service in the department that is targeted to helping these same individuals. She has also worked to improve the quality of documentation, including progress notes, admission notes, and discharge summaries, in order to improve patient care.

She has been at the forefront of improving quality and has taken a vested interest in measures of quality, patient safety, provider satisfaction, and patient satisfaction. She has been the champion of these endeavors in the psychiatry department. She has an excellent sense of humor, and her cheery disposition and eternal optimism is inspiring. Tate is a remarkably “can-do” and wonderfully positive person who gets along beautifully with everyone she encounters.

“She is a key reason that we have markedly improved our outcomes across a broad range of indicators.”

Excellence in Our Workplace Award

Given to a medical director, whose leadership and innovation demonstrably improves the “practice life” and satisfaction of providers in the delivery of clinical care.

Craig Syrop, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology


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Craig Syrop, MD, recently led an institution-wide initiative to bring on-site, 24-hour ultrasound coverage throughout UI Hospitals and Clinics. After reviewing current practices for ultrasound coverage on nights and weekends, Syrop noted an opportunity to improve the quality of care delivered in obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, radiology, and vascular surgery services. This program has brought together nursing, hospital services, and the aforementioned departments to create a “center” model of care supported by all partners. As a result:

  • Patient safety and quality of care has improved—patients no longer need to be transported to Labor and Delivery to obtain after-hours OB-GYN ultrasounds.
  • Patients no longer need to wait until the OB provider team is available to perform the studies.
  • The in-house provider team has improved in terms of performing and interpreting gynecological ultrasounds.
  • Overnight observation admissions to obtain an “official” scan the following day is no longer necessary
  • The provider team now can better attend to the clinical needs of burgeoning inpatient services.
  • Providers now can meet requests from the Emergency Department in a timely fashion while fulfilling other pressing clinical needs.

Best Consulting Provider Award

Given to an individual in recognition of his or her outstanding consulting or specialized services to inpatients and ambulatory patients.

Michael Goodheart, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology


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As a specialist in gynecologic oncology, Michael Goodheart, MD, often provides consultation in the operating room for difficult surgeries and gives direction to referring providers who have diagnosed a patient with a gynecologic cancer. He provides timely, complete, and comprehensive consultation services based on the clinical situation and referring provider’s wishes. Providers typically stay involved with their patient’s care, so Goodheart incorporates this into the overall plan for each patient. When called to the operating room for difficult surgical cases, he maintains a level of calm and clarity so that the surgical team can deliver the best care to the patient.

In complicated cases, Goodheart asks the operating surgeons to assist in the case so everyone can learn. In any consultation capacity he believes communication with the referring provider is of paramount importance, so referring providers are continually updated on their patients’ progress.

One of his colleagues stated:

“Dr. Goodheart is a role model of a physician consultant. I have worked with him on several complicated obstetric cases where he gladly helps out with the surgery itself or the planning at any time of the day or night . . . he actively teaches residents, fellows, students, etc. and offers his expertise to their learning experiences . . . plus, he has a great sense of humor and seemingly endless energy, so it is always a great collaborative experience when Dr. Goodheart is involved!”

About the UIP Clinical Awards

The UIP Clinical Awards were established in 2011 to honor clinical excellence among members of UI Physicians. Nominations are accepted annually from any UIP member or participant and evaluated by the UIP Clinical Awards Selection Committee. Names of the top two candidates in each category are forwarded to the UIP Executive Committee for secret-ballot vote.

1 comment

  1. Congratulations to all these great physicians who do so much for our patients. Their stories are inspiring!

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