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NH Hospital Association honors outstanding service in healthcare at 2023 annual meeting


All Photos Courtesy of Amanda Bizarro Photography

CONCORD, NH – At its Annual Meeting recently held during October 15 – 17, 2023, the New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) honored four individuals from across the state who have made significant contributions to their hospital or the healthcare field.

“It was our honor and privilege to recognize the ongoing efforts and leadership of these extraordinary individuals, as they strive to make improvements in health care access, quality and services to support their patients, staff and communities,” stated Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association

Below is a list of the recipients for the 2023 NHHA Awards of Excellence:

Elizabeth Cooley MD

Elizabeth Cooley, MD, Weeks Medical Center, Lanchester, was recognized with The James A. Hamilton Founder’s Award, NHHA’s highest honor. The Founder’s Award is presented only as appropriate for outstanding service to health care on behalf of the people of New Hampshire. The recipient shall be a person whose integrity and constant commitment are evident to those around them, and whose extraordinary achievement or exceptional contribution in the interest of human health and well-being has extended into the local community, state or nation. Dr. Cooley was recognized as an excellent clinician who is passionate, driven and impactful in her work and for her expertise, leadership and insights to improve overall population health in her region. Several important initiatives, undertaken by Dr Cooley, have shown better health outcomes for individuals in her region.  Of note, Dr. Cooley’s direct involvement in health improvements for her community resulted in a large grant dedicated to supplementing access to primary care through use of paramedics to serve individuals who otherwise would not be served due to chronic health issues, life circumstances or who would be at risk of rehospitalization.

Susan Reeves

Susan Reeves, EdD, RN, CENP, Executive Vice President, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth Health Chief Nursing Executive, Lebanon, was recognized with the Leslie A. Smith President’s Award, bestowed upon an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the New Hampshire Hospital Association, and in recognition of their dedicated service to the affairs, management and growth of the Association and its affiliates. Dr. Reeves is an accomplished nurse, health care leader, and advocate. Within her organization, she is passionate about standards of practice in nursing, building career ladders for nurses, establishing a formal center for professional education and development, supporting research infrastructure and advocating for the organization’s geriatric center of excellence designation.  Outside her organization, her interests in public health, quality, patient safety and organizational ethics exemplify her as a superior leader and role model across the state. She served as an important voice during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that all hospitals remained aligned and supported while they all were caring for a high number of very highly complex patients.

Kathy Barnard

Kathy Barnard, Trustee for Huggins Hospital, Wolfeboro, was recognized as the Outstanding Trustee of the Year Award. This award is presented to a trustee of a New Hampshire Hospital Association member institution whose achievement in the field of hospital trusteeship stands out above all others, and who serves as an example to encourage others in the pursuit of excellence in hospital governance. Ms. Barnard has served on her hospital board of trustees for over a decade.  During her tenure, she has served in a variety of leadership roles including executive committee member, planning and facilities, and quality care and patient experience. Above and beyond her committee work, she is a champion for quality improvement and improved patient experiences. In addition to her board roles, she is actively engaged in many town boards and committees making an impact on issues of importance to her and her fellow community members.

Robert Zwolak

Robert Zwolak, MD of the Manchester Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, was the recipient of the Medical Staff Award for outstanding service to his hospital and community, an honor bestowed upon a medical staff member whose professional performance has strengthened the cooperation between the hospital and the medical staff and who brings credit to the institution and the community.  Dr. Zwolak has a long history of accomplishments, both locally and nationally. Among those achievements, he has led the way in supporting the next generation of physicians, has made significant contributions to improved access to specialty care especially for New Hampshire veterans who live in rural areas and has expanded the clinical expertise that is now available at the Manchester VA Medical Center.

Below is a list of the recipients for the 2023 FHC Awards of Excellence:

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Mass General Brigham Wentworth Douglass Hospital, Dover, was recognized with the Honoring Excellence in Patient Safety & Quality Improvement Award which honors a team of health care professionals who demonstrate a continued commitment to providing quality care to their patients, leading the charge for quality improvement, promoting transparency to improve health care, and achieving better outcomes through the implementation of a strong culture of safety. Mass General Brigham Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s team tackled the issue of cardiac conditions in obstetrical care with the aim to improve maternal health.  Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for pregnant and postpartum people.  Their focus improved evaluation of people while pregnant which ensured that almost all appropriate obstetrical patients received a cardiac referral within 72 hours of their first obstetrical appointment. The project demonstrated the essence of a culture of safety where multi-disciplinary problem solving, innovation and continuous improvement thrive to yield better results for patients.

Neil Meehan

Neil Meehan, MD, Chief Physician Executive, Exeter Hospital, was named the recipient of the FHC’s Innovator’s Award. The Innovator’s Award recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrated extraordinary ingenuity, creativity and skill in improving health and the award honors recipients for their leadership and outstanding achievement in advancing their goals. Dr. Meehan was recognized for his unwavering commitment to improve access to care for individuals with a substance use disorder. He championed health system changes in policy and practice to prioritize that patients receive substance use disorder treatment not only within his hospital but also through access to community-based resources.  He ensured that individuals with lived experience were part of the development of education curriculum for the hospital staff. And, while this work made a big difference within his hospital, he is taking this work further and is championing the adoption of medication assisted treatment at every hospital emergency department in New Hampshire.

Concord Hospital.

Concord Hospital received the Noah Lord Patient and Family Engagement Award. This award pays tribute to the memory of Noah Lord, who at the age of 4 and a half, died as a result of preventable medical errors. Noah’s mother, Tanya Lord, found that the circumstances surrounding Noah’s death provided many opportunities for health care improvement, including the importance of engaging patients and families at the bedside, as well as within the hospital’s structure. The Noah Lord Award was created to recognize innovative work being done in New Hampshire hospitals to better engage patients and families in improving health care. Concord Hospital has been focused on improving delirium care for patients. This system implemented movement and mobilization techniques, sleep safe protocols, virtual tools, and delirium order sets designed to help reduce the incidence of delirium and to help the delirious patient become more attentive. Concord Hospital also engaged families and caregivers in the design and implementation of the interventions and utilized them as partners in every stage of the project’s development.

About New Hampshire Hospital Association

Hospitals have been collaborating through the New Hampshire Hospital Association since 1934. The Association’s mission is to lead through advocacy, education, and information in support of its member hospitals and health systems as they strive to improve the health of the patients and communities they serve.


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