AAMI Names 2019 Award and Scholarship Winners

March 5, 2019

An impressive lineup of healthcare technology experts and innovators, along with clinicians, patient safety champions, standards volunteers, young professionals, and students is set to receive an AAMI award or scholarship at this year’s AAMI Exchange. The honors recognize the leadership, dedication, and contributions these individuals have made to the association and their wider professional community.

AAMI President and CEO Robert Jensen said the winners represent the best in health technology.

“Collectively and individually, these professionals are helping advance the cause of safe and effective health technology,” Jensen said. “They push all of us to aim higher and find innovative solutions to the challenges we face. It is AAMI’s great pleasure to honor and thank them for their achievements and extraordinary work.”

The winners are:

  • The AAMI Foundation's Laufman-Greatbatch Award: Lawana Bryan, Carol Means, Tim Rausch, Tina Hayes, Penny Robertson, and Christina Van Den Handel, Northeast Georgia Health System
  • The AAMI Foundation & ACCE's Robert L. Morris Humanitarian Award: William Gentles, BT Medical Technology Consulting
  • The AAMI Foundation & Institute for Technology in Health Care's Clinical Solution Award: JoAnne Phillips, Virtua Health System
  • AAMI & Becton Dickinson's Patient Safety Award: Shelly Crisler and Katrina Jacobs, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • AAMI’s HTM Leadership Award: Heidi Horn, SSM Health
  • AAMI & GE Healthcare's BMET of the Year Award: Jovito “Jojo” Gonzales, Kaiser Permanente Hospital
  • AAMI's Young Professional Award: Benjamin Esslinger, Franciscan Alliance
  • The Spirit of AAMI Award: Paul W. Kelley, Washington Hospital Healthcare System
  • AAMI HTM Association of the Year Award: Colorado Association of Biomedical Equipment Technicians
  • Standards Developer Award: Bruce S. Alpert, University of Tennessee Health Science Center (retired); Richard Dart, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation; Nupur Jain, Intuitive Surgical; John Murray, Food and Drug Administration (retired); Rose Seavey, Seavey Healthcare Consulting, LLC
  • AAMI Technical Committee Award: AAMI’s ECG Committee
  • AAMI Foundation Scholarship: Lauryn Carr, Mississippi State University; Rebecca Halmich, University of Connecticut; Anas Mahmoud, Texas State Technical College; Moses Suherman, Southern California Institute of Technology; Angie Thai, University of Washington; Bianca Wyman, University of Connecticut

These individuals will be formally recognized during a ceremony at the AAMI Exchange, the name for the association’s growing and revamped annual conference and expo. The Exchange will be held June 7–10 in Cleveland, OH.

More information about the AAMI Awards Program can be found at www.aami.org/awards.

AAMI Award Winners

The AAMI Foundation's Laufman-Greatbatch Award

The education team for Northeast Georgia Health System’s simulation center: Lawana Bryan, RN; Carol Means, RN; Tim Rausch, RN; Tina Hayes, RN; Penny Robertson, RN; and Christina Van Den Handel, RN

AAMI’s most prestigious award is named after two pioneers in the field—Harold Laufman, MD, and Wilson Greatbatch, PhD. It honors an individual or group that has made a unique and significant contribution to the advancement of healthcare technology and systems, service, patient care, or patient safety. This year’s award will be presented to the education team for the simulation center at Northeast Georgia Health System, which includes Lawana Bryan, Carol Means, Tim Rausch, Tina Hayes, Penny Robertson, and Christina Van Den Handel.

Simulation technology helps improve performance and outcomes related to medical devices and systems by preparing individuals or teams for unusual or uncommon situations. This approach to training is usually employed by large university medical centers rather than community-based health systems; however, the team at Northeast Georgia Health System has built a training program capable of reaching all corners of its region. From its humble beginnings utilizing manikins in a basement closet of an old building, the team has grown the program into a multimillion-dollar "simulation center of excellence,” and is poised to launch the first mobile simulation unit in the state of Georgia this summer.

AAMI Board Member Michael Appel, MD, chief patient safety officer for Northeast Georgia Health System, described the team as “pioneers.”

“Under the guidance of this team, our organization is taking the lead in bringing state-of-the-art university-style healthcare training to our community-based health system,” Appel said. “The team’s approach is bold and raises the standard for delivering world-class medical care to our community. They have the passion and vision necessary to persuade our community that simulation is the new frontier in healthcare quality and safety.”

The AAMI Foundation & ACCE's Robert L. Morris Humanitarian Award

William Gentles, PhD, CCE, vice president of BT Medical Technology Consulting in Toronto, ON, Canada

This award—honoring the late Robert Morris, a longtime AAMI member, co-founder of the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE), and humanitarian—recognizes an individual or organization that has leveraged healthcare technology to improve global human conditions. This year’s winner, William Gentles, was described as “a positive role model” with “a passion and dedication” for both humanitarian and clinical engineering (CE) efforts around the world.

Gentles, who has 50 years of experience in the healthcare technology management (HTM) field, has been the leader of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society’s “Tools for Techs” project since 2017, which has provided crowdsourced cash grants to frontline HTM professionals in Ghana, Mongolia, Tanzania, and Rwanda to purchase badly needed tools so they can be more effective in their roles.

He also has administered the INFRATECH International Email Discussion Group on CE/HTM sponsored by the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization for nearly 20 years. This resource, which connects more than 400 subscribers from about 50 countries, has resulted in collaboration and information sharing across national boundaries that have contributed to improvements in quality, safety, and equipment access.

“I am deeply honored to be receiving this award,” Gentles said. “Others who have received the Robert L. Morris Humanitarian Award have been a great inspiration to me. I feel I am following in the footsteps of giants.” Gentles said he will be contributing the funds associated with his award to the Tools for Techs project.

The AAMI Foundation & Institute for Technology in Health Care's Clinical Solution Award

JoAnne Phillips, DNP, RN, CNS, CPPS, director of clinical practice for Virtua Health System in southern New Jersey

This award honors a healthcare technology professional or group that has applied innovative practices or principles to solve a significant patient care problem or challenge facing a patient population or community. This year’s winner, JoAnne Phillips, has played an integral role in developing multidisciplinary approaches to reducing alarm fatigue and has championed the significant, but often overlooked, role that nurses play in the delivery of safe and effective patient care.

Phillips is a member of the AAMI Foundation’s National Coalition for Alarm Management Safety and a recognized leader in the nationwide effort to improve alarm management in hospitals. She has published foundational articles on alarm management issues in clinical settings and the related patient safety problem of alarm fatigue. Phillips also led the development of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists’ alarm fatigue toolkit, which includes a comprehensive list of alarm management competencies, case studies for hands-on learning, and resources for evaluation.

“I am extremely proud to be the first nurse to be the recipient of the AAMI Foundation & Institute for Technology in Health Care's Clinical Solution Award,” Phillips said. “Nurses play a pivotal role in the management of alarms and the safe operation of complex technology at the patient-technology interface, and I hope that my work has brought forth the important voice of the clinical nurse.”

AAMI & Becton Dickinson's Patient Safety Award

Shelly Crisler, CCE, biomedical engineer at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Engineering, Occupational Safety and Health in St. Louis, MO, and Katrina Jacobs, CCE, biomedical engineer at the VA National Center for Patient Safety in Ann Arbor, MI

This award recognizes outstanding achievements by healthcare technology professionals who have made a significant advancement toward improving patient safety. AAMI & Becton Dickinson’s 2019 Patient Safety Award will be presented to Shelly Crisler and Katrina Jacobs for their efforts to enhance the quality and safety of care provided to patients within the VA health system.

Crisler and Jacobs serve as expert consultants to the entire VA community on medical equipment incident investigation, risk assessment, root cause analysis, healthcare failure mode and effects analysis, and human factors design, providing training on these topics to field personnel. They redesigned the VA’s management system for medical equipment safety recalls and advisories, and routinely liaise with equipment manufacturers to improve device design and operations, especially with respect to safety and human factors. Crisler and Jacobs also continually analyze the medical equipment inventory, maintenance data, usability data, patient incident reports, near-miss reports, and other databases for trends and safety concerns, escalating issues for possible enterprise-wide actions when necessary.

Most recently, the duo developed the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Medical Device Incident Investigation Guidebook in collaboration with the Office of HTM. The guidebook, which was published in August 2018, is intended to ensure that VHA personnel can organize an effective rapid response to any medical device incident, preserve evidence, and capture detailed information so appropriate action can be taken to improve patient safety across the health system.

“We are honored to have our work recognized and to have been selected to receive the AAMI & Becton Dickinson Patient Safety Award,” Crisler and Jacobs said. “We have dedicated many years of work into creating strong tools and processes for improving medical device safety in our healthcare system, and it means so much to us that the work we are so passionate about also resonates with others. We hope this recognition can serve as an inspiration to others. We also want to thank our leadership and colleagues for their support of this work and nominating us for this award.”

AAMI’s HTM Leadership Award

Heidi Horn, vice president of healthcare technology management (HTM) at SSM Health in St. Louis, MO

This award, which honors individual excellence, achievement, and leadership in the HTM field, will be presented to Heidi Horn for her commitment to ensuring that HTM professionals not only add value to their organizations but are recognized for that value.

During her tenure as the vice president of HTM at SSM Health, a Catholic, not-for-profit health system with 24 hospitals and 40,000 employees across four Midwestern states, Horn has transformed the 120-person HTM department from a traditional maintenance provider to the health system’s undisputed experts in all things related to clinical equipment.

Horn is an active volunteer leader in the HTM community, serving as a member of the AAMI Board of Directors and Technology Management Council Executive Committee, as well as chair and/or member of nearly a dozen other AAMI committees over the past 13 years. In addition, Horn has written numerous articles, presented at conferences, and participated in national initiatives impacting the HTM field, such as AAMI’s Future Forums, the FDA’s 2016 workshop on refurbishing, reconditioning, rebuilding, remarketing, remanufacturing, and servicing of medical devices, and the development of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance’s draft American National Standard for servicing of medical imaging devices.

“I am so humbled and honored to be included among the extraordinary men and women who have won AAMI’s HTM Leadership Award. They are pioneers in this field and held a vision for the role HTM would play in ensuring the development, management, and use of safe and effective health technology,” Horn said. “If I’ve learned anything in my 20 years as an HTM professional, it’s that we all have unique skills we can contribute to improving the profession, and I encourage our future HTM leaders to get involved now. I’m excited to see where this next generation of leaders will take the field in the decades to come.”

AAMI & GE Healthcare's BMET of the Year Award

Jovito “Jojo” Gonzales, CBET, CHTM, A+, Net+, Sec+, lead biomedical equipment technician for Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Diego, CA

This award, which is given to a biomedical equipment technician (BMET) to recognize his or her dedication, achievement, and excellence in the HTM field, will be presented to Jovito Gonzales, who is described by his peers as a “compassionate and dedicated leader” and “a highly skilled technician.”

Gonzales was instrumental in the launch of a new 253-bed medical center in San Diego that was touted as one of the most technologically advanced when it opened in April 2017. He provided mentorship and training to the BMETs hired for the new facility, deployed more than 7,000 pieces of medical equipment, and assisted in the deployment of new technologies and several medical device integrations.

With a background in information security, Gonzales exemplifies the skills and knowledge that BMETs will need in order to stay relevant in the healthcare technology ecosystem. He was a member of Kaiser Permanente’s (KP’s) Compliance Action Plan Task Force, which reviewed and developed a national medical device security and privacy plan for the health system. He also travelled to several KP facilities throughout southern California to assist in the ransomware remediation of more than 4,000 devices.

“I’m extremely grateful and humbled to be the recipient of AAMI & GE Healthcare's 2019 BMET of the Year Award. It’s a validation of what outstanding mentorship, excellent training, and being part of an exemplary team can accomplish,” Gonzales said. “I’m very hopeful that others will view this award as an inspiration to strive for continued personal and professional development and to develop a habit of making positive contributions to our industry. Be inspired, be motivated, and become the best version of yourself.”

AAMI's Young Professional Award

Benjamin Esslinger, CHTM, CBET, administrative director of clinical engineering for Franciscan Alliance’s Central Division in Indiana

This award is presented to a healthcare technology professional under the age of 35 who has a history of exemplary accomplishments and a strong commitment to the field. This year’s winner, Benjamin Esslinger, 30, is an emerging leader in the field, serving as a role model for his peers and the students he seeks to inspire.

Throughout his career, Esslinger has demonstrated the importance of life-long learning and professional development. After entering the HTM field, he earned an associate degree and then continued to enroll in classes part-time, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in 2013. Esslinger also has self-acquired expertise in cybersecurity, working closely with the Medical Device Innovation, Safety & Security Consortium to better understand the cutting-edge challenges of software vulnerabilities and how to mitigate them. In addition, Esslinger has earned his CBET and CHTM credentials, all while balancing employment and personal responsibilities.

Esslinger’s passion for the HTM field is contagious. As president of the Indiana Biomedical Society, Esslinger has injected new energy and enthusiasm into the group, increasing conference participation and community engagement. He also is always ready to reach out to potential students and others who want to learn more about HTM.

“Receiving the 2019 Young Professional Award is an absolute honor,” Esslinger said. “I am so grateful to AAMI and the many helping hands from family, coworkers, and colleagues throughout my personal and professional journey. I plan to follow in the footsteps of those who have blessed me with their selfless acts, impacting me in such ways that make this award possible.”

The Spirit of AAMI Award

Paul W. Kelley, CBET, director of biomedical engineering, the Green Initiative, and asset redeployment for Washington Hospital Healthcare System in Fremont, CA

Paul Kelley has been selected to receive the Spirit of AAMI Award based on his outstanding contributions as an AAMI member and his numerous volunteer efforts within the association. For more than two decades, Kelley has exemplified what it is to be an AAMI volunteer leader through his professionalism, selfless commitment, and willingness to share his expertise.

Since joining AAMI in 1992, Kelley has contributed to several AAMI publications, given presentations at conferences and events, participated in the development of AAMI standards, been a member of the AAMI Foundation Board of Directors, and served on numerous committees, including the Awards Committee, Sustainability Committee, and Annual Conference Program Planning Committee. Kelley, who was AAMI & GE Healthcare's 2011 BMET of the Year, is currently vice chair of BMETs on the AAMI Board of Directors and chair of the Technology Management Council.

Kelley has been instrumental in establishing strong relationships between AAMI and external organizations, such as the California Medical Instrumentation Association and The Joint Commission (TJC). Since 2010, he has served a representative to TJC’s Patient Safety Advisory Group, acting as a two-way communication channel to ensure AAMI constituents have a voice in the TJC standards process and that they received timely, accurate information from the committee.

“I have always believed that I should learn something every day, and I love to give back. AAMI has provided me with many opportunities to do both,” Kelley said. “I have had great support from my employer, Washington Hospital, during all of my involvement. The number of good friends and excellent colleagues that I have met through AAMI is innumerable. I have always been proud to wear the AAMI member pin.”

AAMI HTM Association of the Year Award

Colorado Association of Biomedical Equipment Technicians (CABMET)

This year’s HTM Association of the Year, CABMET, exemplifies all qualities this award seeks to promote, including outstanding society operations and meetings, as well as a commitment to elevating the HTM field at a local level.

Each year, CABMET hosts bimonthly educational meetings and a three-day symposium that provide continuing education on topics of interest to its members, including ultrasound repair and troubleshooting, sterilizer processes and quality assurance, leadership in the HTM field, alternative equipment maintenance programs, and IT security.

The association is a leader in preparing HTM professionals for AAMI Credentials Institute certification exams. By using remote-learning tools and collaborating with other HTM societies, CABMET has helped thousands of BMETs review for the CBET, CHTM, CRES, and CLES exams.

CABMET also helps give back to the community through an annual work day to check and repair equipment in Project C.U.R.E.’s Denver warehouse, which will eventually be donated to low-resource countries. In addition, members of the association have participated in several career days at high schools throughout Colorado to promote the HTM field to the next generation of professionals.

“CABMET strives to not only promote and grow our members, but also to promote and help grow the HTM field as a whole,” said the association’s President Leticia Reynolds. “Our members have an extensive amount of knowledge that we are always willing to share with other professionals in the HTM field and with high school students across our state. We are honored to be selected as the 2019 AAMI HTM Association of the Year.”

AAMI Standards Award Winners

Standards Developer Award

This award recognizes major contributions to the development or revision of a specific AAMI or international standard. This year’s recipients are:

  • Bruce S. Alpert, MD, retired pediatric cardiologist and Plough Foundation Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and former program director for the UTHSC General Clinical Research Center, for his many years of contributions to the AAMI Sphygmomanometer Committee and his expertise and leadership in the development of AAMI/ISO 81060-2 and IEC 81060-4.
  • Richard Dart, emeritus researcher at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, for his dedication to the AAMI Sphygmomanometer Committee and integral role in securing essential external organization support for motion artifact data collection efforts for the international development of IEC 81060-4.
  • Nupur Jain, manager of validation engineering services at Intuitive Surgical and co-chair of ST/WG 93, for her leadership and vision in the development of ST98, an important U.S. standard for the development and validation of medical device cleaning processes, and her ability to create a collaborative environment and foster consensus.
  • John Murray, co-chair of the AAMI Software Committee and the AAMI Software and Information Technology Committee, for his pioneering work in the development of standards and guidance related to software in medical devices and interoperability, including AAMI SW68:2001, Medical Device Software - Software Life Cycle Processes. Murray recently retired from the Food and Drug Administration after 32 years of federal service.
  • Rose Seavey, president of Seavey Healthcare Consulting, LLC and co-chair of ST/WG 42, for her numerous contributions to AAMI’s sterilization standards program, including her work on key documents such as ANSI/AAMI ST79, Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities and ANSI/AAMI ST91: Comprehensive guide to flexible and semi-rigid endoscope processing in health care facilities, as well as her advocacy for their consistent use in the field.
AAMI Technical Committee Award

This award, which recognizes outstanding committee efforts to advance standards, will be presented to AAMI’s ECG Committee, which works to ensure the basic safety and essential performance of electrocardiographic technology. Over the years, this committee has produced six standards covering ECG monitors; diagnostic ECGs; ambulatory ECG systems; ECG cables and lead wires; and ECG electrodes. It also has worked with the International Electrotechnical Commission to harmonize U.S. national and international standards.

AAMI Foundation Scholarship Winners

Since 2009, the AAMI Foundation has awarded scholarships to outstanding students aspiring to become HTM professionals. This year’s winners are:

  • Lauryn Carr, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS.
  • Rebecca Halmich, who is pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering with a focus on clinical engineering at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.
  • Anas Mahmoud, who is studying biomedical equipment technology at Texas State Technical College in Waco, TX.
  • Moses Suherman, who is completing his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Southern California Institute of Technology in Anaheim, CA.
  • Angie Thai, who is focusing on biomedical instrumentation and digital signal/image processing as part of her electrical engineering degree at the University of Washington in Seattle.
  • Bianca Wyman, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.

The AAMI Foundation also awards a scholarship in partnership with the Health Systems Engineering Alliance to help support the adoption of a systems approach to healthcare technology. This year’s winner is Angie Thai, who is focusing on biomedical instrumentation and digital signal/image processing as part of her electrical engineering degree at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Gavin Stern 

AAMI (www.aami.org) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1967. It is a diverse community of more than 9,000 healthcare technology professionals united by one important mission—supporting the healthcare community in the development, management, and use of safe and effective health technology. AAMI is the primary source of consensus standards, both national and international, for the medical device industry, as well as practical information, support, and guidance for health technology and sterilization professionals.