Excellence in Community Service Award

Excellence In Community Service Award

The Excellence in Community Service Award recognizes hospitals and health care systems that have distinguished themselves through contributions to their community.

Sharon Beasley, 512/465-1030

2021 Award Winner

Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston was awarded THA’s Excellence in Community Service Award for their Nurse Health Line, a free telephone triage service available to anyone living in Texas.

According to an emergency department use study published in June 2013 by the University of Texas School of Public Health, more than 46% of all patients treated and released from emergency rooms in Houston were treated for primary care-related illnesses or injuries that could have been treated in a physician’s office or clinic. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency rooms in southeast Texas were often at capacity and facilities struggled to meet the needs of patients in a timely manner.

Based on the findings of the UT School of Public Health study and informed by the consistent trend seen across hospitals in Houston, Memorial Hermann Health System established its free, 24/7 Nurse Health Line in 2014. The Nurse Health Line was designed with the purpose of improving community access to care and ensuring more efficient use of the emergency rooms in Harris and the surrounding counties.

Those who are experiencing a health concern can dial the Nurse Health Line for assistance in Spanish or English to determine the right kind of care to pursue. The Nurse Health Line is staffed by trained nurses 24/7 to help members of the Greater Houston community query immediate health concerns, inquire about a condition or medication, or get immediate answers to follow-up questions from a recent clinic or hospital visit.

In addition, a team of community health workers associated with the Nurse Health Line help callers who do not already have an established primary medical home locate one, further helping people find the resources they need to manage their health, now and in the future.

Receiving more than 169,710 calls during Memorial Hermann’s 2021 fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021), the Nurse Health Line has helped to ensure that ambulances and emergency rooms are available for crises, and that non-critical health care is delivered in an appropriate setting.

The cost avoidance for Houston area emergency rooms was more than $4.7 million in FY2021, using the assumption of $500 per ER visit. While 51% of callers indicated that they would have gone to the ER had they not called the Health Line, only 25% of all callers were ultimately sent to the ER based on their condition.

In addition, 98% of Nurse Health Line users reported the service as good or excellent, demonstrating that it provides helpful information, advice and education to callers. Callers are not only given peace of mind for their medical concern, but are also provided a convenient option to receive proper guidance for optimal health outcomes.

photo of Members of the Nurse Health Line team in 2019
Members of the Nurse Health Line team in 2019: Juan Delgado; Carol Matsumoto, RN; Arechia Gaines, RN; Chelsea Vazquez, RN; Jessica Bailey, RN; and Danielle Thompson, RN.

Texas hospitals and health care systems are reaching out to their communities with a wide range of innovative, resourceful programs. They are addressing the health needs of the uninsured and forging partnerships with schools, churches and other organizations to target issues beyond the traditional halls of medicine.

THA created the Excellence in Community Service Award in 1995 to honor institutions that have distinguished themselves through contributions to their community. Each year, the award recognizes a THA-member hospital or health care system that makes a major contribution to its community by creating and supporting innovative programs to meet specific needs, improve health status and enhance quality of life.

photo of the Excellence in Community Service award

Hospitals or health care systems that are active institutional members of THA are eligible for this award. 

Selection Criteria
Contributions to the community will be evaluated by the nominee’s leadership and participation in beneficial, measurable programs that have provided a positive outcome in health status. Leadership and service may be exemplified by total community achievements or by highly visible individual programs. Please note: A community benefits plan, in and of itself, is not considered an acceptable entry. 

All nominations must include the following information:

  1. Evidence of a community-identified need, as documented by local statistics, surveys, health needs assessments, etc. Please include supporting data or reports.
  2. Action plan for project(s), including a budget summary that details all sources of funding.
  3. Evidence of leadership in forging partnerships and collaborative efforts in the community (including identification of all involved parties and the role each played).
  4. Description of program implementation, including obstacles and how they were overcome.
  5. Documented measurable and objective outcomes/results of the project(s).
  6. Demonstrated community response, participation and acceptance (may include newspaper articles, reports, etc.).

Selection Process

Each of the above criteria will be weighted during the selection process, with greater consideration being given to items 1, 3 and 5. Projects or programs should be in place for a minimum of three years to have yielded significant outcomes or measurable changes in health status.

In addition, projects that may be replicated in other communities will receive preferential consideration.

The selection committee is composed of THA and community leaders. Committee members’ institutions are not eligible to receive the award.

The winning organization and its project/program will be featured in THA publications and recognized at the THA Annual Conference and Expo.

Step 1. Complete the nomination form.

Step 2. Attach a one-page executive summary, a one-page budget summary, a program description and any other supporting statements or documents, for a total of 15 pages.

Step 3. Be sure all materials are completed and SUBMITTED by the deadline.

Questions? Contact Sharon Beasley at sbeasley@tha.org or 512/465-1030.

2020: Parkland Health & Hospital System - Dallas - COVID-19 Testing Program

2019: University Health System, San Antonio - The HEB Body Adventure (Powered by University Health System)

2018: Children's Health (Dallas) - School-Based Tele-Behavioral Health Program

2017: Texas Health Resources (Arlington) - Northwest Community Center Project

2016: Seton Healthcare Family (Austin) - Project Search

2015: Medical City Children's Hospital (Dallas) – kids teaching kids

2014: Harris Health System (Houston) – Routine Universal Screening for HIV

2013: Parkland Health & Hospital System (Dallas) – Correctional Health Services

2012: East Texas Medical Center Tyler and Scott & White Healthcare – Pin-A-Sister Breast Awareness Campaign

2012: Scott & White Healthcare – Military Homefront Services Project

2011: Cook Children's Health Care System, Fort Worth, and Methodist Health System, Dallas – Neighborhood Clinics Program

2011: Methodist Health System, Dallas – Life Shines Bright Pregnancy Program

2010: Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and University Medical Center of El Paso – El Paso Healthcare Heroes Program

2009: Harris County Hospital District, Houston – Community Behavioral Health Program

2008: Methodist Dallas Medical Center - Prostate Cancer

2007: UTMB, Galveston - Continuum of Care: A Mental Health and Substance Abuse Model for Galveston and Brazoria counties

2006: St. David's South Austin Hospital - Diabetes Management Program

2005: Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas - Homeless Outreach Medical Services program

2004: Northwest Texas Health Care System, Amarillo - Women's and Children's Healthcare Center

2003: Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston - Centers for School Program

2002: Covenant Health System, Lubbock - Exercising Body, Mind, and Spirit

2001: Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas - Community Oriented Primary Care Program

2000: Knapp Medical Center, Weslaco - KMC Diabetes Center

1999: Colorado-Fayette Medical Center - Flatonia Community Clinic; and Valley Baptist Medical Center, Harlingen - Asthma Education Program

1998: Peterson Memorial Hospital, Kerrville - Raphael Community Free Clinic

1997: Trinity Mother Frances Health System, Tyler - Family Care Clinic

1996: Angleton/Danbury General Hospital - Community Services Plan