WHA Awards

For more than 55 years, the Wisconsin Hospital Association has honored individuals who have served the health care community. WHA’s annual awards have recognized a broad array of distinguished health care leaders throughout Wisconsin including health care executives, public officials, health care trustees, auxilians, clergy, educators and physicians for their extensive service in support of health care.

WHA Distinguished Service Award:  honors senior health care executives who have made an exemplary commitment to WHA and the communities they serve.

Fort HealthCare’s Wallace Recognized with WHA 2021 Distinguished Service Award

WHA has awarded its 2021 Distinguished Service Award to Fort HealthCare President and CEO Mike Wallace. The award was presented to Wallace by WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding at Fort HealthCare on Oct. 27.
WHA’s annual Distinguished Service Award honors a senior health care executive who has demonstrated a long-standing and impactful commitment to advancing health care statewide and in their community.
Wallace was nominated for the award by his Fort HealthCare colleagues Carl Selvick, senior director of clinical operations and Lisa Jensen, vice president of nursing services, as well as Fort HealthCare Board Chair Mary Behling. All noted the tremendous work Wallace has done and is doing to improve the health and well being of his community.
“Mike is a tireless champion and voice for hospitals and rural health care, in fact all health care, in front of our elected officials in both Washington, DC and Madison,” Borgerding said in presenting the award.  I cannot think of another WHA member leader who has participated in more meetings with elected officials and who has testified in front of more committees, than Mike – many trips to Madison and Washington, D.C, where he is listened to and heard.  It’s no surprise that under Mike’s leadership, Fort HealthCare was given the WHA Advocacy All Star Award in 2018.
Borgerding went on to list the many significant contributions Wallace has made to the WHA board of directors. He has served on the WHA board of directors since 2011, and as board chair in 2016. He was the nominating committee and advocacy committee chair in 2017, chaired the public policy council from 2014-2016, in addition to numerous other WHA councils, workgroups and taskforces. Read more.



WHA Trustee Award:  honors trustees of WHA member organizations who have made an exemplary commitment to their hospital and to the community they serve.

Beloit Health System’s James Packard Receives WHA Trustee Award

WHA has honored James Packard of Beloit Health System with the 2021 Trustee Award. WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented the award to Packard, who also serves on the Beloit College board of directors, on Oct. 22 at the Beloit Health System Board of Trustees Retreat at the ABC Supply Stadium.

For more than 60 years, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized outstanding member trustees, those who excel and make an exemplary commitment to his or her hospital and community.

In presenting the award to Packard, Borgerding said, “We are recognizing someone who, along with his exceptional spouse Nancy, has been a guide, mentor and example to so many. Jim Packard is a man from humble roots, and who is the epitome of the kind person and leader this award is meant to recognize. A man who has led by example, values hard work, gives back to his community, and loves and cherishes his family.”

“It was my honor to nominate James Packard for the 2021 Trustee Award,” said Beloit Health System President and CEO Tim McKevett. “Jim’s astute business acumen continues to be a tremendous asset to the Health System Board. We remain fortunate to have Jim as a proactive and strategic leader. Jim’s commitment and dedication to improve the quality of life in our community is second to none. The Packard Cardiology Clinic and the Packard Family Care Center would not be possible without the generosity of Jim and Nancy.”

Acknowledgements of merit include Packard’s enhancement of the Governance Committee to ensure compliance and equity, the orchestration of the Beloit Memorial Hospital and Beloit Clinic merger, allowing greater access to providing integrated care as well as improving access to the overall public health of the Community. Jim led initiatives proving significant revenue growth and nearly doubling staff, resulting in Beloit Health System becoming Beloit’s largest local employer. In carrying out these initiatives, Beloit Health System expanded from one main facility to 13 sites, including the creation of a 122-acre ambulatory Wellness campus, NorthPointe, established in Roscoe, Illinois.

As part of his recognition, WHA will donate $500 to the charity of Packard’s choice.


The AHA Grassroots Champion Award was created to recognize those hospital leaders who most effectively educate elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital’s vital role in the community, who have done an exemplary job in broadening the base of community support for the hospital and who are tireless advocates for hospitals and their patients.

Bellin Health's Chris Woleske Receives AHA Grassroots Champion Award

Every year, one individual in each state is honored as a “Grassroots Champion” by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in consultation with state hospital associations. This year, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) nominated Chris Woleske to receive the AHA Grassroots Champion Award for her service and efforts.

Currently, Woleske serves on the WHA board of directors. Woleske regularly participates in WHA grassroots advocacy initiatives, including Advocacy Day, promoting the WHA’s grassroots program HEAT and attending roundtable events with elected officials. Woleske is also active in the Wisconsin Hospitals PAC & Conduit, personally contributing to the program and engaging with candidates through WHA PAC events.

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding presented the Grassroots Champion award to Woleske virtually during the Bellin Health board of directors meeting on Aug. 24. 

“Chris is an exemplary leader, fostering relationships with policymakers and advocating for the important issues that impact Wisconsin hospitals, the patients they serve, and their critical role in our communities,” said Borgerding. “WHA was pleased to nominate Chris for this is well-deserved award, and we know she will continue to be an advocacy model for others.”

"Thank you very much for this award," said Woleske. "Advocacy is a strong part of our philosophy at Bellin Health, prioritizing access to quality health care for our patients and our community. It is an honor to be a voice for them."

2019 AHA Grassroots Champion


Advocacy All-Star Award:  recognizes one hospital or health care system each year that exemplifies dedication to grassroots advocacy.

SSM Health Wisconsin Receives WHA Advocacy All-Star Award

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has awarded its 2021 Advocacy All-Star Award to SSM Health. The annual award recognizes one hospital or health care system for its exemplary dedication to grassroots advocacy on behalf of the state’s health care providers and in partnership with WHA.

SSM Health Regional President Damond Boatwright accepted the award at award at WHA’s Advocacy Day event, held virtually this year and attended by nearly 1,000 hospital supporters.

“SSM Health Wisconsin has been an outstanding advocacy partner with WHA. We are a successful advocacy organization because of proactive policy development, effective lobbying and actively engaged members like SSM Health Wisconsin,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “Even as advocacy activities shifted virtual, SSM Health never turned down an opportunity to participate, having representation present whenever called upon,” Borgerding added.

“Receiving this recognition is incredibly meaningful for me and our organization,” said Boatwright. “We know the value and importance of advocacy and the role it plays in making meaningful, positive changes not just for our health care organization, but for patients and communities all across Wisconsin.”

SSM Health Wisconsin actively participates on WHA’s board of directors, councils and work groups, attends virtual advocacy events and engages directly with state and federal lawmakers in their districts. The health system has also shown strong growth in the number of new members to the Hospital Education and Advocacy Team (HEAT), a statewide network designed to facilitate grassroots involvement on state and federal issues that impact Wisconsin hospitals. Read more.


Health Care Advocate Award:  presented in recognition of partnership with WHA in supporting issues that enable the delivery of high-quality, high-value health care in Wisconsin.

Rep. Tony Kurtz Receives 2021 Health Care Advocate of the Year Award

The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) has recognized State Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) with the Association’s 2021 Health Care Advocate of the Year Award.

Kurtz was honored at WHA’s virtual Advocacy Day event on April 14 for his partnership with local hospital leaders and his support of legislation to provide necessary Medicaid funding for hospitals, remove unnecessary regulations and bolster the state’s health care workforce.

Hospital leaders from the 50th Assembly District joined WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding to present the award to Representative Kurtz. Constituent presenters included Mile Bluff Medical Center President and CEO Jim O’Keefe, The Richland Hospital CEO Bruce Roesler and Reedsburg Area Medical Center President and CEO Bob Van Meeteren.

"It is our honor today to present WHA’s Health Care Advocate of the Year Award to an ally, a true champion for our community, and an important advocate for hospitals in Wisconsin: Representative Tony Kurtz,” said O’Keefe. “Representative Kurtz has a style that makes him an effective and influential lawmaker for hospitals. He reaches out, he listens, and then he acts.”

“One of the ways [Rep. Kurtz] has turned words into action is through supporting critical funding increases to hospitals like ours,” said Roesler. “As a hospital leader, the biggest issue we face is how to make sure our operations can remain funded and provide high quality access to care for patients in our communities. We, like Jim, thank him for reaching out to us on a regular basis and taking action in Madison to help us serve our community.”

“When the community had no one else to turn to during the pandemic, when public health needed help, they all turned to us,” said Van Meeteren. “We are privileged to serve in this role, but it has been extremely challenging on human and financial resources while illuminating the importance of our state’s hospitals. Tony understands and appreciates the work done by our state’s hospitals throughout the pandemic. He has been a helpful partner, cutting through the political noise to communicate critical messages to his constituents that helped us care for patients and keep people safe.

Receiving the Health Care Advocate of the Year Award, Kurtz noted that he was “humbled” by the honor. “I am extremely honored to receive this distinguished award,” he said. “But it was all of you that have really done the heavy lifting. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have endured so much this past year, and you have exceeded all expectations. You stopped everything and focused on treating and slowing the spread of COVID-19. In my humble opinion, your proactive leadership slowed the spread and gave our state time to prepare. And prepare we did.”  Read more.


WHA Lifetime Achievement Award:  given to a member in recognition of leadership, service and partnership with WHA in advocating for better health care for Wisconsin communities.

Jerry Worrick Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

The President and CEO of Door County Medical Center, Gerald “Jerry” Worrick, was honored with WHA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Rural Health conference.  Door County Medical Center is a critical access facility serving approximately 29,000 people from Door and Kewaunee counties year-round. That number explodes when more than 1.25 million visitors descend upon Door County every summer.

Worrick received the award in recognition of his leadership, service, and partnership with WHA in advocating for better health care for Wisconsin communities—serving a combined 45 years for WHA.  He served on the WHA Board for eight years, including serving as chair in 2003.  Worrick has been part of the Nominating and Awards, Council on Public Policy, the Property, Financial Solutions and Advocacy committees—and last but certainly not least, on the Council on Rural Health for 14 years.