AHIMA 2020 Triumph Awards Honor Resilience and Determination

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When this country is finally able to put 2020 in the rearview mirror, it will be impossible to reflect on this era without identifying which leaders were able to rise to the occasion—particularly in the healthcare field. For a case study on “how to lead in a crisis,” look no further than this year’s roster of Triumph Award winners.
Triumph Award for Leadership/Literary Legacy Award

Sharon Lewis, MBA, RHIA, CHPS, CPHQ, CAE, executive director of the California Health Information Association (CHIA), was honored with two Triumph Awards this year—one individual award for Leadership and for the CHIA’s Journal Editorial Advisory Board, which was given the Literary Legacy Award. Lewis’s HIM career has spanned decades, with an emphasis on privacy and security, quality improvement, professional development, and association management. She’s been the executive director of CHIA since 2015, following a stint serving as the organization’s president. She was honored this year for her work in transitioning CHIA’s annual in-person conference to a virtual conference within 30 days. According to the Triumph Awards Nominating Committee, Lewis showed the ability to think “outside the box.”
“I feel very humbled to even be nominated for this award. When I heard I was being considered—to feel like people even notice what you do when I feel like I’m scrambling, it’s very humbling and very honoring,” said Lewis in an interview.
2020 Triumph Literary Legacy Award

AHIMA presented its 2020 Triumph Literary Legacy Award to the California Health Information Management Association’s Journal Editorial Advisory Board (EAB). The EAB continuously seeks out topics and authors for articles that are relevant to the issues facing the HI profession.

Triumph Distinguished Member Award

The Distinguished Member Award is the highest honor that AHIMA has, and this year it went to Patrice Spath, MA, RHIT, partner, author, and educator at Brown-Spath and Associates, and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is also a part time faculty member at Pacific University in Oregon. Spath has been an active member since 1973 when she became a student member in college. According to the nominating committee, Spath has continuously advanced HI to the next level. She is well-known for her leadership and expertise in healthcare quality and safety improvement and has advocated for the importance of incorporating quality management within the practice of HI. Spath was instrumental in the early development of the Quality Assurance section for AHIMA, which is still considered a vital aspect of HI and the healthcare industry today.
Spath says she sees HIM as more of a skill set than a specific job title. She also says the skills she gained from her volunteer roles as an AHIMA member has contributed to her success in this field.
“I added those skills to my resume, such as being the editor of the quality assurance section of a newsletter. I did a lot of public speaking as a volunteer and added the skillset of public speaking…What volunteering did—I added to skills that were my foundation HIM skills. By adding those skills it expanded my job opportunities,” Spath said, in an interview.
The Triumph Educator Award

Susie Harris, PhD, MBA, RHIA, CCS, FAHIMA, professor and the program director for the Health Information Management program at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC, wants all of her students to be successful. One way to improve their chances is offering them the option of taking the RHIA credentialing exam before graduation, said Harris, who helped spearhead an initiative at her university that would help cover the cost of registration fee for the exam. This fund, called the Myra Brown Memorial Fund pays tribute an educator who believed finishing the exam prior to graduation boosted a student’s job search.
“It’s a great incentive and it’s a blessing to the students because $229 is a lot when you’re just graduating,” says Harris, noting that of her students who took advantage of the fund, all have secured jobs before graduation or shortly after.
For her efforts to help her students, Harris earned 2020’s Triumph Educator Award. In addition to teaching HIM, Harris has been an active volunteer at the national and state level. She is also a prolific researcher, publishing numerous refereed journal articles, book chapters, and books on HIM.
My favorite thing about teaching is helping the students achieve their goals. I remember when I was in their seats. Even though it’s been over 30 years ago it doesn’t seem that long ago and a lot of things have changed in that time. But that desire to finish a program, get your credential, get a job, is key, and that’s what I want our students to do. I want them all to succeed.”
Triumph Student Award

This year’s student Triumph Award went to Germaine N. Miguez-Corujo, who earned her second master’s degree (her first was in finance) in HIM from the University of Puerto Rico. Miguez-Corujo was president of her class, coordinated faculty activities, and welcomed and mentored new students. Since 2018, she has actively collaborated with both the HIM graduate program at the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Health Information Management Association (PRHIMA). Miguez-Corujo serves as a student representative on the advisory committee for the HIM graduate program in the School of Health Professions and a is member of the board of directors for the PRHIMA.
Triumph Innovation Award

This year the Innovation Triumph Award was given to the Ohio Health Information Management for its role in transforming the largest state health information show to a virtual conference within a week. Due to the size of the convention, financial realities and members’ educational needs, rescheduling or cancelling were not an option. Over the next week, OHIMA Board Members and staff executed a plan to record over 30 hours of educational sessions and deliver them to meeting attendees in a virtual, recorded format. According to the nominating committee, OHIMA’s innovative use of a learning management system serves as a blueprint, opening the door to revolutionizing the way we deliver services and connect with members.
The awards were presented during the AHIMA20 General Session on Thursday, October 15.

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