Mahaska Health Partnership’s Dr. Matt Whitis named Iowa Hospital Hero
Dr. Matt Whitis, Medical Director of MHP Emergency Services and Volunteer Medical Director of the Oskaloosa Free Clinic, was recently named a 2010 Iowa Hospital Hero by the Iowa Hospital Association for his work with the Free Clinic.
Dr. Whitis is one of 10 people from across the state who will receive this prestigious honor at the Iowa Hospital Association’s Annual meeting in October. The recognition was based on nominations submitted by his co-workers and volunteers at the clinic.
According to MHP CEO Jay Christensen, Dr. Whitis spearheaded the effort to inject new energy and support into the Free Clinic. “In the year since he first envisioned ways to better serve patients without insurance or other means of healthcare coverage, major changes have occurred,” Christensen said.
“Under Matt’s leadership, the Oskaloosa Free Clinic Advisory Board was formed. With Matt serving as Executive Director; the clinic location moved to MHP’s campus; and in its first year, has recorded more than triple the number of patient visits than in the same period the previous year (174 to 541), while offering more medical services.”
Christensen calls Dr. Whitis a tireless champion of the Free Clinic, acting as a liaison between MHP and the Free Clinic, coordinating medical providers, serving as its medical director and volunteering more than his fair share of clinic hours. “Matt coordinated with affected departments and MHP Administration to absorb all of the labor costs in lab and X-ray,” Christensen said. “He also worked to improve access to patient education as well as other community resources. “
The Oskaloosa Free Clinic, a part of the Free Clinics of Iowa network, opened in 1994 and was located in the basement of a local church. The location created a number of challenges that volunteer physicians, nurses and support staff faced in order to provide comprehensive care to patients. With the ultimate goal of increasing access to free medical services, a growing need in Oskaloosa, Dr. Whitis formed a committee to explore relocating the clinic to MHP’s campus.
Oskaloosa Free Clinic Advisory Board Member Roger Parlett said Dr. Whitis’ dedication and drive for the projects he cares about is inspirational. “I didn’t understand the great need for improved Free Clinic services until Matt outlined the situation,” Parlett said. “I’m a retired banker, and knew nothing about medical services. Now, I’m so invested myself that I became a volunteer at the clinic and see firsthand all the people we help.”
Stephanie Faulkes, Director of MHP New Directions and an Oskaloosa Free Clinic Advisory Board Member, said that not only is Dr. Whitis a great leader of the Free Clinic, he is also a volunteer champion. “He has truly set the tone for the Oskaloosa Free Clinic volunteers, and patients continue to compliment staff on the wonderful service they receive,” Faulkes said.
“He wholeheartedly deserves this award for his commitment to improve the health and well being of all Mahaska County residents. He worked through many obstacles to assure that healthcare services would be available to those in need, and he inspired a large group of healthcare volunteers to follow his lead. The results have truly been inspirational, making Dr. Whitis a true hospital hero.”
Shown at the Iowa Hospital Association’s Hospital Heroes presentation on Oct. 7 are, from left: Mahaska Health Partnership’s Chief Financial Officer Susan Horras; Chief Nursing Officer Darlene Keuning, RN, MS; Hospital Hero and Executive Director of MHP Emergency Services Matt Whitis, MD; and Chief Executive Officer Jay Christensen.