Loraine Shea of Waterbury Hospital, chairperson of the Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Health Care Council (HCC), and Lynn Ward, president and CEO of the Waterbury Regional Chamber, announced that the Chamber will host their 8th Annual Members’ Breakfast and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 18, 8:00 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury, Conn. Sponsored by TD Bank and Saint Mary’s Health System in Waterbury, the breakfast program will present awards to four exceptional health care professionals and one health care organization in the Greater Waterbury region. During the breakfast, three retiring HCC board members will also be recognized, Kevin Kniery of the Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center; Dr. Peter Zilahy of Peter M. Zilahy, DC, DABCO; and John Koliani of Cohn Reznick.

Recipients of the 2013 HCC awards are: Staywell Health Center which will receive the HCC’s Organizational Excellence Award; Dr. Steven Aronin of Waterbury Hospital and Dr. Michael Simms of Saint Mary’s Health Systems, who will receive the HCC’s Leadership Award; Jim O’Rourke of the Greater Waterbury YMCA who will receive the Stephen Sasala Health Advocate Award; and Dr. David C. Knight of Waterbury Hospital who will receive the HCC’s Unsung Hero Award.

The 2013 recipient of the Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Health Care Council’s Organizational Excellence Award is the Staywell Health Center, a community health center in Waterbury, for its ability to demonstrate the best qualities of a health provider. StayWell Health Center serves over 20,500 area patients and has received Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) certification through the private, non-profit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Staywell is the first and only community health center, and one of only three provider practices, in Connecticut to receive this certification which is achieved through many steps to ensure that the provider meets criteria that includes: coordinating care, patient-doctor relationship, meaningful use of electronic health records, population management, and cultural competency.

The HCC’s Leadership Award will be presented to Dr. Steven Aronin Waterbury Hospital Chief of Infectious Disease Section and Dr. Michael F. Simms III Saint Mary’s Health Systems Director of Infectious Diseases. The Award is presented annually to individuals from the health profession who embody the qualities required to improve healthcare in the Waterbury community. “Through their leadership,” Ward explained, “Dr. Aronin and Dr. Simms have made significant strides towards improving and protecting the health of our community. By raising awareness, initiating change, enhancing quality of care, and creating new services, these two outstanding physicians have demonstrated the vision and foresight needed to create a healthier future for us all.”

The Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Health Care Council’s Stephen Sasala Health Advocate Award will be presented to Jim O’Rourke, CEO and executive director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA since 2009. The Award is presented annually to an individual or group who works outside of the health industry yet still demonstrates exceptional commitment to healthcare related issues. O’Rourke is responsible for the overall operational management of the $5.7 million non-profit organization that serves 20,000 people from the Greater Waterbury area with facilities in Waterbury, Watertown, Southbury, and Prospect. “By using his own distinctive capabilities and competencies,” stated Ward, “Jim O’Rourke has demonstrated an exceptional ability to improve the health of community members as well as influence health-related issues within our community in a positive way.”

Dr. David C. Knight, a general surgeon and associate program director of Waterbury Hospital’s General Surgery Residency Program, is the recipient of the 2013 Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Health Care Council’s Unsung Hero Award. Ward explained, “This award is presented to a health care practitioner who has distinguished him or herself by providing exceptional care, compassion and commitment in their daily work. Dr. Knight recently returned from his seventh humanitarian mission to the African country of Liberia where he has helped innumerable people receive life-saving medical treatment while providing training and supplies to the country’s medical infrastructure. He reports to the general administrator of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in that nation’s capital of Monrovia.”

HCC Chairperson Lorraine Shea commented, “The Waterbury region has many outstanding health care organizations. Each year we create the opportunity to honor and recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations in this area. Each person, and organization, is being recognized for their exceptional contributions to the Greater Waterbury region at large.” The mission of the Health Care Council is to provide health care resources and information to employers, employees, individuals, and health care professionals, to provide networking opportunities for members and prospective members, and to educate professionals within the health care industry.

The Waterbury Regional Chamber Health Care Council represents over 1,100 businesses in the Greater Waterbury region that includes Beacon Falls, Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Oakville, Oxford, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott, and Woodbury. One of the largest chambers in Connecticut, the Waterbury Regional Chamber, and its Health Care Council, creates and distributes a semi-annual “Health Matters” magazine in the Waterbury “Republican-American” newspaper.

Gold sponsors of the June 18 breakfast and awards ceremony are Carmody & Torrance LLP; The Center for Women’s Health in Connecticut; The Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center; Naugatuck Valley Radiology. Silver Sponsors are Glenwood Systems, LLC and Cohn Reznick.

Open to the general public, the Waterbury Regional Chamber Health Care Council 8th Annual Members’ Breakfast and Awards Ceremony will be held at 8:00 AM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 1284 Strongtown Road in Southbury. The cost is $35 for Waterbury Regional Chamber members, $50 for non-members, and $400 for a table of ten. To learn more, and to reserve a seat, visit the Waterbury Regional Chamber website at www.waterburychamber.com.