Mercy administrator Heuser honored by AHA

Keith Heuser, administrator of Valley City’s Mercy Hospital, has been named North Dakota’s sole Grassroots Champion for 2012 by the American Hospital Association.

The AHA in partnership with the state hospital associations, last week awarded 52 people with the award. As Grassroots Champions these individuals are being recognized for exceptional leadership in generating grassroots and community activity in support of a hospital’s mission.

Friday Heuser said he was presented with the award at a Grassroots Champion breakfast last week in Washington, D.C.

The special Breakfast of Grassroots Champions took place at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting on May 8.

“I was honored for my advocacy (for the hospital) and getting the message out. My goal working in a small community is gaining community understanding of what we’re doing and maintaining community support,” Heuser said.

Heuser said he was nominated for the award by the North Dakota Hospital Association, “There are 43 hospitals in North Dakota and the vast majority are members (of the state association),” Heuser said.

The AHA has more than 5,000 hospital members, Heuser said.

Heuser said he attends the breakfast meeting periodically, but made sure to attend this year’s program because of the award. “I think I’ve attended three times in the last seven years,” Heuser said.

The award was created to recognize those hospital leaders who most effectively educate elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital’s vital role in the community, who have done an exemplary job in broadening the base of community support for the hospital and who are tireless advocates for hospitals and their patients.

“We depend upon strong local voices to help tell the story of hospitals as cornerstones of the communities they serve,” said Rich Umbdenstock, AHA president and CEO. “This award is a small token of our appreciation for the hard work and dedication of these individuals to improving health and health care in America.”

Regional Grassroots Champions for 2012 were:

* Heuser, CEO of Mercy Hospital.

*Iowa, Lon Butikofer, RN, Ph.D., chief executive officer, Regional Medical Center.

*Minnesota, Susan Klabo Klassen, CEO, Mahnomen Health Center.

*Montana, Kristianne Wilson, executive director, Billings Clinic.

*South Dakota, Bryan Slaba, administrator/CEO, Wagner Community Memorial Hospital Avera.