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Avery, McKay, Six and Smith Honored with Cardinal Leads Award

The Cardinal Leads Award was established to recognize individuals who are outstanding leaders and embody Cardinal Innovations' core values in ways that have a high impact on Cardinal Innovations, its employees and its members. The winners can come from any department and are role models, setting an example for others to follow in keeping high standards and championing Cardinal Innovations' values.

The first winners of the award were announced at the 2017 All-Employee Leadership Conference on March 24.

LaShay Avery

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LaShay Avery, Community Engagement Manager for the Southern Region, is one of four winners for the first Cardinal Leads Award. Avery was selected due to her commitment to building public trust, and exceptional service to Cardinal Innovations Healthcare members and stakeholders.

“(Avery) lives and breathes the 'be the change you want to see' mantra," according to her nomination for the award. “She leads her team by example, by being responsive, offering exceptional customer service experiences and treating everyone with respect. She sees challenges as opportunities and pushes her employees, as well as supervisor, to always do better by accepting the challenges and not giving up."

The nomination praised Avery for the courage, integrity and accountability she brings to her work. She is described as demonstrating courage in challenging her team and leadership when there is an opportunity to consider new ideas that may be more difficult, but are better for the company. Her integrity and honesty also were praised.

“If there is an elephant in the room, (Avery) will be the first in the room to call it out and then offer suggestions on how to deal with it," the nomination reads.

“Her beliefs, her attitude, and her commitment make our company look great because her authenticity builds public trust in the work we do," said Chief Administrative Officer Amy Kendall, quoting Avery's nomination when presented the award.

Avery, who has worked for Cardinal Innovations for 13 years, said she was honored to be recognized for the work she does, and added that helping people is what she enjoys about her job.

“The opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of people that are often stigmatized and marginalized is what drew me to behavioral health," she said.

Katie McKay

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Clinical Operations Quality Specialist Katie McKay, one of the inaugural Cardinal Leads Award winners, is described as a team player who strives to produce high quality work and also helps her entire team reach higher standards, serving as a role model for others.

“When the Utilization Management teams have been short staffed or had a high volume, Katie jumps in to help wherever asked without complaint," her nominator wrote. “She strives to ensure that not only is her work high quality but supports the entire team to reach higher standards. Her peers rely on her help and feedback to help them grow in their own roles. Whether it is a last minute project she is asked to pitch in on or helping a peer she takes this in stride and gets the job done with high quality. Other team members including the directors and managers rely on her to lead projects to meet the goals established."

McKay, who has a strong clinical background, has brought new ideas and perspectives to Cardinal Innovations.

“She is also able to look at situations from a unique approach and may pick up on things that others may not see to help our members receive the best services and experiences possible through her work behind the scenes," her nominator wrote.

McKay's position was new to the Clinical Operations team when she joined Cardinal Innovations in October 2015. McKay has worked to develop creative solutions. Her role also includes preparing for annual audits and accreditation.

“Having her critical eye for detail related to our clinical charts that are a 'must-pass' element for NCQA process helps ensure that we remain a leader in our specialty area as a company," her nominator wrote.

McKay said, “I have appreciated what I have been able to learn from others and what I have been able to give back to teams in an effort to assist the members we serve. While my work is 'behind the scenes,' it has been an awesome feeling to be a part of something bigger that contributes to the communities in which we live."

Nicole Six

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Cardinal Leads Award winner Nicole Six, who is a MHSUD Care Coordination Supervisor, started with Cardinal Innovations as a care coordinator in April 2016 and was quickly promoted to her current position.

In her supervisory position, Six manages some of Cardinal Innovations' most complex members as it provides clinical oversight to our Complex Integrated Care Coordination for both adult and children, and the Acute Transition Care Coordination (ATCC) program.

Six was the first supervisor to implement the ATCC model at Cardinal Innovations, designing trainings with side-by-side staffing, case scenarios, weekly supervision, and modeling of leading meetings. In addition, she developed a training guide for ATCCs in other regions, sharing what has worked in building relationships at our hospitals.

Six said she was drawn to behavioral healthcare because of her previous work in child welfare.“While working in foster care, I saw a great need—both in children and in biological families—for access and linkage to quality behavioral health treatment. I fundamentally believe in this work and its power to impact lives in a positive way—I've seen it work time and time again.

"(Six) has often had very difficult conversations with many stakeholders and families where people are angry, families are in crisis, and there are differing opinions. (She) has never wavered or stepped down from being ethical and focusing on the best interest of the member," her nominators wrote.

Six's leadership has often drawn praise from community stakeholders. One stakeholder described her as “an awesome cheerleader and positive spirit that can make some touchy situations so much easier." Six encompasses Cardinal Innovations' core value of compassion, her nominators said, citing an example when she stepped up after overhearing a young member and his mother discussing difficulty getting services for a substance use problem. The young man had recently been kicked out of a treatment program.

"(Six) began significant efforts to link to services. Through the passion and compassion (Six) had for this young man, she worked to get a provider to agree to go to the hospital and assess this man due to his risk levels... then was able to get a provider to stay open late after normal hours to admit him into residential services immediately so he went from one safe location to the next."

Six works directly with one of Cardinal Innovations' busiest hospitals. A few months after she took the supervisor role, one of the hospital leaders praised the partnership they were building because of Six and the Cardinal Innovations Care Coordination staff.

Antoine Smith

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Cardinal Leads Award winner Antoine Smith, an Access Coordinator, demonstrates ownership and responsibility for his work on a consistent basis, according to his nominators. His compassion for the individuals Cardinal Innovations serves is one of the reasons he was nominated.

“(Smith) takes the time to question and challenge the status quo by being honest and candid with his colleagues and management in a respectful manner. (He) brings solutions to problems that focus on the best interest of the members we serve," his nominators wrote.

Smith recently challenged the process of a caller seeking specific resources being directed to Access from another internal department. Prior to reaching out to the caller, he thoroughly researched the caller's history with Cardinal Innovations in the CI system and consulted with the referring department to clarify its role with further assisting the member. The internal team member was unware of the information Smith located in the system and agreed that there was no need for Access to follow up with the member as this could cause greater confusion.

“Smith's focus was on the member's needs and best customer service experience that may be offered to the member from our organization," according to his nominators.

Smith has also taken initiative with colleagues, leading his team to embrace recent call software changes that are more in line with state-of-the-art call centers and enhancing the caller experience for the members we serve, nominators said.

In October 2015 one of Smith's colleagues placed him in the Access Employee Spotlight by sharing the following: “I just had a caller who was calling Access to give (Smith) an update. She had spoken with him earlier, and apparently he made such an impression on her that she wanted to call back and let him know her progress on the services they discussed. She seemed well informed and knew all her options, including calling us back if she needed additional help. Sounds like he provided great customer service to her!"

In February 2017, another of Smith's colleagues placed him in the Access Employee Spotlight yet again, sharing that, “(Smith) who has been our 'go to Cisco person' has been so gracious and patient with Access staff to assist with phone/system issues as they continue to be a problem. Even helping folks on his lunch hour. Man, you're amazing!"

Smith who has worked in the behavioral healthcare field since 1995 and has been with Cardinal Innovations since November 2012, said, “It's an amazing feeling to get recognized for embracing my passion. It's not a job to me. It's a mission."

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