Mercy Health System Recognizes Colleagues as 2014 CEO Diversity Champions
CONSHOHOCKEN, PA (June 13, 2014) – Mercy Health System is proud to announce that two of its colleagues were recently recognized as 2014 CEO Diversity Champions by CHE Trinity Health for their extraordinary commitment to the work of diversity and inclusion within their regional health ministries and communities. An awards ceremony, themed “Equip, Empower, Influence,” was held Tuesday, April 29 in Livonia, Michigan. Mercy Health System’s 2014 CEO Diversity Champions are: Theresa Conejo, RN (Nazareth Hospital) and Joy Hepkins, RN, OCN (Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital).
The CEO Diversity Champion Awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments of individuals who — alone or as part of a group — promote and advance diversity and inclusion at CHE Trinity Health, its Regional Health Ministries (RHMs) and throughout the community. CHE Trinity Health is the parent company of Mercy Health System, which operates Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital and Nazareth Hospital, as well as Mercy Philadelphia Hospital and Mercy Suburban Hospital.
“Joy and Terry truly exemplify our mission and core values at Mercy Health System by diligently striving to help all patients and those within the community who are underserved and poor,” said Susan Croushore, Interim CEO for Mercy Health System. “Their commitment, devotion and dedication to others is remarkable and is a testament to their work as healthcare professionals.”
Theresa “Terry” Conejo, RN — Nazareth Hospital Pool Nurse Theresa “Terry” Conejo, RN, was awarded the Sister Catherine Horan Community Partner and Volunteer of the Year Award for her work as a health advocate and community volunteer.
During her free time, Conejo often volunteers and coordinates health-related activities in local immigrant, Spanish-speaking and other medically underserved communities. In September, she was part of the Buck’s County Women’s Advisory Coalition’s Affordable Care Act Rollout: What Every Agency and Professional Needs to Know seminar, where she was instrumental in connecting Spanish-speaking residents with appropriate insurance and healthcare information and resources.
In 2013, Conejo advocated for the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure program, where she lobbied policymakers to pass legislation to help children lead healthier lives. She also advocated for legislation that protects workers and the public from the harms of secondhand smoke. Within her own community, Conejo helped eliminate high-sugared drinks from an after-school program and launched a healthy kids’ camp.
Conejo has been recognized with an American Heart Association Distinguished Achievement Award, as well as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses’ (NAHN) Henrietta Villaescusa Award for Community Service. Recently, she was named a Philadelphia Eagles Community Quarterback Award recipient and presented with a $4,000 grant from the American Heart Association for her contributions and service to the community.
Joy Hepkins, RN, OCN — Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital Oncology Nurse Navigator Joy Hepkins, RN, OCN, was awarded the Sister Teresa O'Neill Outstanding Leadership in Clinical Cultural Competency Award for her work in helping a non-immigrant, Spanish speaking only patient receive expensive life-saving medication at no cost.
Having been turned away from numerous hospitals due to lack of insurance, the patient was admitted to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, where she was diagnosed with Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria – a very rare blood disease. She was prescribed a specialty drug, costing $40,000 per treatment, which would help manage the disease, if treatment began immediately.
Hepkins began working with a translator in order to ensure constant care, communication and support for the patient, as well as to help her file for insurance through Medicaid. While waiting for coverage to take effect, Hepkins secured the expensive drug at no cost to the patient. During her own time, she conducted research on the treatment in order to provide medication-education to the patient, as well as the infusion nurses who would be responsible for administering the treatment.
Using this information and working with a translator, Hepkins was successful in helping the patient understand her illness, implement a treatment schedule and provide the support necessary for her road to recovery.