Two NGHS Employees Receive Prestigious Hospital Hero Award

Published: Thursday, November 7, 2019

Two long-time employees of Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) are among only six healthcare workers in the state officially recognized as heroes. Jason Grady and Jeff Thompson received their awards from the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) during its annual Hospital Heroes Awards luncheon November 1.

“I’m thrilled GHA has chosen to recognize these two outstanding employees,” says Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS. “While Jason and Jeff have long been heroes in our eyes, it’s wonderful to see just how many they’ve impacted – not only in our community, but in our state.”

Grady, who serves as the coordinator of the Northeast Georgia Regional STEMI System, was recognized for his work to improve care for cardiac patients throughout the region. He coordinates emergency care and communication between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel from 17 counties; Emergency Departments (ED) of 12 regional hospitals; and interventional cardiology teams with The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Together, these groups synchronize efforts to provide fast and efficient treatment to patients suffering severe heart attacks known as STEMI (S-T Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction).

Thanks to Grady’s leadership, life-saving care is provided to these patients, on average, in 42 minutes. With an industry standard average of 90 minutes, the STEMI System’s coordinated care is literally making history, by the second.

Grady also worked with The Medical Center Foundation to ensure that all EMS trucks in NGMC’s 17-county service area were outfitted with special EKG machines that can transmit data directly from the truck to the ED, streamlining the care process for patients. Additionally, paramedics can call the hospital dispatch center with a STEMI diagnosis, allowing these patients to bypass the ED and go straight to the cath lab.

“With Grady’s guidance, this STEMI program has become a national model,” adds Burrell. “It’s incredible to see cardiac teams from all over the country traveling to us to learn about our program and how to implement it in their facilities.”

Jeff Thompson, director of Pastoral Care at NGMC, was also recognized for his deep-rooted compassion for both patients and co-workers and his dedication to help introduce new programs at NGHS.

“During his tenure at NGHS, Jeff has had an indelible impact on – and is a true advocate for – patients and employees alike,” says Burrell. “He has comforted families in the emergency room, helped bolster our Employee Assistance Program, presided over marriages and has even spoken at funerals. He is the epitome of strength, support and serenity, with a sincere acceptance and love for everyone.”

Thompson championed NGMC’s Ethics Program, which helps address ethical issues at the bedside and gives clinical staff a safe place to raise questions and have discussions. Additionally, he worked to introduce NGMC’s Respecting Choices program, which promotes advance directives and honors the wishes of patients when they make decisions about advanced care planning. With Thompson’s direction, NGMC became the first hospital in the state to offer this program. He also spends time mentoring and teaching current and future chaplains by NGMC’s clinical pastoral education program.