Three Regenstrief Institute scientists received recognition for their contributions to healthcare. Chris Callahan, M.D., Shelley Johns, PsyD, and Kathleen Unroe, M.D., and her OPTIMISTIC team were all chosen as finalists for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 2019 Health Care Hero awards.
The awards honor individuals and organizations in central Indiana who are making a significant impact on the quality of care in the Indianapolis area.
“It is a considerable honor to have not one, but three, Regenstrief scientists named as IBJ Health Care Heroes,” said Peter Embi, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Regenstrief Institute. “This recognition is a testament to their hard work and leadership as innovators, working hard to transform health and healthcare, and to the achievements of Institute scientists and staff that regularly impact health across our local, national and global communities.”
Dr. Callahan was nominated in the physician category. He has worked for 30 years to improve the health of older adults. In addition to being a renowned researcher, he is also a practicing physician. Dr. Callahan was the founding director of the Center for Aging Research, and he currently serves as the chief research and development officer at Eskenazi Health, where he also directs the Brain Health Patient Safety Learning Laboratory. His work is focused on improving care for people with late-life depression and dementia. He has developed interventions that are now real-world programs. He has also testified before Congress, having a direct influence on policy related to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Throughout his career, he has served as a mentor for a number of researchers. He has received many honors, including being chosen to serve as the Society of General Internal Medicine’s 2018 Distinguished Professor of Geriatrics.
Dr. Johns received recognition in the non-physician category. She was the first Indiana psychologist to earn board certification in clinical health psychology and currently works in the Outpatient Care Center at Eskenazi Health, in addition to her appointments with Regenstrief and the IU School of Medicine. Her work has improved the quality of life for people with cancer or other serious medical conditions. Learning from her patients in the clinic, Dr. Johns has developed and tested novel behavioral interventions to address sources of suffering among people with cancer and their families. She also introduces medical students, residents and fellows to the importance of psychological care of their patients and presents workshops to clinicians on recognizing depression and anxiety in people with cancer.
Dr. Unroe and her team were nominated in the community achievement in health care category for the OPTIMISTIC project. The category honors an organization that has successfully implemented a program that addresses an acknowledged problem in health care. OPTIMISTIC, which is short for Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical Quality, and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care, aims to keep people in nursing homes out of the hospital. The program placed geriatrics-trained nurses in long term care facilities across Indiana. In its first phase, participating facilities saw a 40% reduction in potentially avoidable hospitalizations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has funded phase two of the program, which is currently underway. Dr. Unroe plans to expand the impact of this program by making it commercially available through a new company called Care Revolution.
Dr. Embi said, “I am proud and honored to call these researchers my colleagues, and I look forward to seeing how their work continues to change and improve lives in Indiana and beyond.”