Each year the Brookwood Baptist System (Brookwood, Princeton, Shelby County, Walker and Citizens hospitals) recognize five key individuals in what is called the “Circle of Influence” awards. Colleagues from across the hospitals, physician groups and market operations are nominated in the areas of Service; Integrity, Innovation, Transparency and Quality. Two employees at Citizens won in the categories of Innovation (Kory Burel) and Quality (Van McGrue), and were recently presented awards in Birmingham in front of the leadership from the entire organization.

Citizens CEO Doug Brewer shared why he believes each won their awards this year:

Van McGrue epitomizes the value of quality. Wearing multiple hats for Citizens Baptist Medical Center, Van is responsible for case management, quality, performance excellence, infection prevention, and medical staff services. She has a clear understanding of departmental objectives and strives for excellence in all she does. Van develops her staff through optional learning opportunities, adapts to change with a positive attitude, and is consistently compliant with all regulations. She always goes above and beyond, no matter the task.

Van has been instrumental in ensuring that Citizens Baptist remained in Tenet’s top 10 for quality initiatives for the past two years. When new hospitalists come onboard, Van is front and center in ensuring they meet the high standards our hospital has for evidenced-based medicine, quality processes, and protocols. Van also maintains a positive attitude and takes the lead when we have a difficult patient placement or family dynamics issue. It is not unusual for Van to work late or come in on the weekend to ensure that her patients are cared for and the staff is supported.

Van is an exceptional leader who deserves to be recognized for her commitment, excellence, integrity, and most of all, the love that she has for providing quality care for our patients, hospital, and the community.

Kory Burel is the hospice chaplain at Citizens Baptist Medical Center. He loves his patients and his community. Kory knows the importance of education, especially in a rural community. After seeing studies about children’s reading skills increasing the more they read aloud, Kory had an idea to help students in the Talladega community and his hospice patients.

Kory contacted the Baptist Health Foundation and asked if they would be willing to purchase a Chromebook that could be linked to the local elementary school’s library. His hope was to connect students and hospice patients through a reading program. Kory used the Chromebook to do live streams to hospice patients of children reading to the hospice patients. In some instances, the kids would sing or even dance. This was a great way to bring joy to patients who often had few to no family members to visit them. It was a win-win situation: students benefit by improving their reading and social skills, and hospice patients benefit by being “entertained” by the community’s youth and having a small diversion from their illness.

Kory is always thinking of others and finding ways to bridge services and meet the needs of his patients and the community of Talladega. He exemplifies the value of innovation because he explored and shared new and different ways of doing things by using courageous curiosity. He sought a way to provide better service and inspires others to seek innovative solutions to care.