phoenix children's
Phoenix Children’s Announces Inaugural Awards For Clinical Excellence

October 30, 2021

By Terri Jo Neff |

Phoenix Children’s recently announced the five winners of its inaugural Heart & Hand Clinical Excellence Awards which recognize exceptional contributions to pediatric medicine in the areas of clinical care, research, and medical education.

The Oct. 21 awards event was held at the Phoenix Country Club. Among the special guests were Phoenix Coyotes executive Shane Doan who provided the keynote speech, with Phoenix Children’s own Dr. Jared Muenzer, who is the hospital’s physician-in-chief, serving as emcee.

Other speakers included Phoenix Children’s President and CEO Robert L. Meyer along with Dr. Daniel Ostlie, the surgeon-in-chief.

“These awards are uniquely special because all of those nominated were done so by their peers,” said Steve Schnall, senior vice president of Phoenix Children’s Foundation. “With countless examples of excellence exhibited by our amazing physicians and advanced practice providers, we are honored to be able to recognize all of those who offer exemplary service and foster an environment of hope, healing, and world-class healthcare.”

Physician of the Year – Wendy P. Bernatavicius, MD, selected as the doctor “who lives and breathes” the values of exemplary service, while excelling clinically and going “the extra mile to demonstrate service” while communicating with staff and patient families.

Advanced Practice Provider of the Year – Katherine M. Harrison, MSN, RN, CPNP-AC, CCRN, selected for embodying family-centered care, placing the child’s needs first, and putting in the effort “to ensure the family is informed, empowered and valued as part of the care team.”

Researcher of the Year – Michael C. Kruer, MD, recognized for being actively involved “in the conversation around improvement and innovation, making contributions in clinical, translation and/or basic science research.” The researcher award is also designed “for the intensely curious.”

Teacher of the Year – Vasudha L. Bhavaraju, MD, selected from Phoenix Children’s teaching faculty for taking time to coach those around her and actively mentoring future clinicians “to carry on a shared mission of hope and healing.”

Advocate of the Year – Alexandra M. Walsh, MD, recognized for her passion every day “to help bridge the gaps in care in the surrounding community.”

Event sponsors recognized by the Phoenix Children’s Foundation include Arizona Coyotes, Gammage & Burnham, IES Communications, In-Group Hospitality, Littler, Maricopa Ambulance, Palo Alto Networks, Progressive Management Systems, Staybridge Suites, Stifel Hagen Wealth Management Group, and Trident Security.

Phoenix Children’s is one of the largest pediatric health systems in the United States, comprised of Phoenix Children’s Hospital – Main Campus, Phoenix Children’s Hospital – East Valley, 4 pediatric specialty and urgent care centers, 11 community pediatric practices, 20 outpatient clinics, 2 ambulatory surgery centers, and 6 community outpatient clinics throughout Arizona.

The Phoenix Children’s Care Network includes more than 850 pediatric primary care providers and specialists in more than 75 subspecialties.

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