February 23, 2011

Kelly honored by AHA for leadership in promoting healthcare

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Dan Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems (MCHS) CEO has been named the 2010 Grassroots Champion for North Dakota.
The American Hospital Association (AHA), in partnership with the state hospital associations, awarded 52 individuals with the American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion Award. 
“This is a unique award and I am honored to have been chosen,” says Kelly.
As a 2010 Grassroots Champion these individuals are being recognized for exceptional leadership in generating grassroots and community activity in support of a hospital’s mission.
“This is an award that honors someone from each state for their efforts to raise awareness in healthcare,” says Kelly. “I take great pride in this award because I think it is important to educate the public locally and in Washington about what is going on here and what is needed here. Rural hospitals, are much different than large hospitals, and if we don’t get that message out then rural hospitals lose out on a lot.”
The American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion 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.
“I look for the laws and changes that would have the greatest impact on the community and the state,” says Kelly. “Then I get out there and lobby for or against the changes. I have found that most negativity toward rural hospitals comes from Bismarck or Washington, simply because the officials don’t understand how much different rural hospitals are from large hospitals.”
Although the award was given to Kelly, he feels that without the MCHS Board of Trustees it would not have been possible.
“I have a good board that understands that while my core responsibility is to the healthcare system here, that it is also beneficial to the area for me to help outside of our system,” states Kelly. “My grassroots efforts cost money and take me away from my main duties sometimes. But the board understands that oftentimes, that comes back in better legislation and more funding.”
As part of his award, Kelly will receive an all-expense paid trip to the AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington.
“I’ve been to Washington in the past, but I am looking forward to this trip so I can lay some groundwork with North Dakota’s new representatives in Washington,” adds Kelly. “You won’t see any banners announcing my award and you won’t see my head swell, but I am very pleased to have received this award and recognition. I plan to continue with my grassroots efforts as long as the board allows and as long as I feel that I am effective.”