Employees recognized for excellence with President's Values in Action awards

February 07, 2022
MUSC Libraries' Marie Nelson, second from left, received the 2021 Values in Action award for Compassion. Nelson is joined by Kathy Cole, from left, nominator Brooke Fox and Dr. David Cole. Photos by Sarah Pack

As the COVID pandemic continues into its third year, MUSC employees are working smarter to put their best feet forward.

For the sixth year, MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D.,FACS, and first lady Kathy Cole are recognizing employees for their resilience, commitment and leadership with the President’s Values in Action awards. The awards pay tribute to outstanding women and men who personify MUSC’s five values: compassion, innovation, integrity, collaboration and respect.

For the second year, the Coles honored an employee in a special Values in Action category - the Impact award. This award was originally intended to be reserved for a rare situation in which an individual’s contributions to the institution and/or community he or she serves goes above and beyond, encompassing all of the values. But, not only is this the second time it will have been awarded, it follows on the heels of last year.

In recognition and appreciation, the 2021 awards salute employees who model the institution’s values for their significant contributions, integrated work and leadership. The category of Compassion resulted in two awardees this year.

“All seven of these award winners represent the heart and soul of MUSC, and we’re all very grateful for the work they’ve done and impact that they have had,” said Cole. “I look forward to seeing more examples of the significant, creative and innovative work of our team members throughout 2022. Thank you for all the work that you do to change what’s possible for those we serve.”

The 2021 Values in Action winners:
Compassion – Brittany Hempton and Marie Nelson
Innovation – Erik Modrzynski
Integrity – Frankie Wilhoit
Collaboration – Christine Holmstedt, D.O.
Respect – Elizabeth Brown
Impact – Alyssa Rheingold, Ph.D

Brittany Hempton Compassion 
MUSC Health's Brittany Hempton, top right photo, raises her hand during a virtual presentation of the Values in Action Compassion award from President David Cole and Kathy Cole.

Two employees were recognized for Compassion. Brittany Hempton is a family nurse practitioner working in the hematology/oncology office, infusion and inpatient areas at the MUSC Health Florence Medical Center. Her competency and the compassionate care that she provides to oncology patients is said to be “remarkable.” The recipient of numerous compliments from patients and care team members alike, Hempton is known for her excellent communication skills, knowledge base to navigate around inpatient and outpatient services and dedication to cancer patients, exemplifying MUSC’s mission and values.

David Mahvi, M.D., chief of the Oncology Integrated Center of Clinical Excellence (ICCE), had high praise for Hempton’s work ethic. “Brittany embodies a spirit to persevere and improve each patient, family and care team member’s experience at MUSC Health Florence. We are excited to formally recognize her hard work and dedication through this award.”

Marie Nelson was also awarded the Values in Action award for Compassion. A resource management services assistant for the MUSC Libraries, she has served MUSC for 39 years and has won the respect and hearts of her fellow employees. During the pandemic, she served a valuable role for faculty and staff, donating her time, talent and personal resources to sew and create more than 500 face masks to ensure the safety of the library staff, faculty and their families, wrote MUSC Library colleague Brooke Fox, university archivist and associate professor.

And as new library staff joined the ranks, Nelson gifted each of them with masks, lifting the spirits of her fellow colleagues. “The Values in Action award recognizes those, who through small acts, make significant contributions to MUSC. I believe Marie is deserving of this nomination for her ongoing service through a difficult time,” Fox wrote.


Erik Modrzynski Innovation 
MUSC Health's Erik Modrzynski, third from right, receives the Values in Action award for Innovation.

Erik Modrzynski, who was honored with the Values in Action award for Innovation, has been extremely busy since spring of 2020 and has been responsible for MUSC Health’s operations and response since COVID affected the Lowcountry and state. Modrzynski, Ambulatory EHS and emergency manager at MUSC, and his team have been involved in testing and vaccinating thousands of patients.The team also manage­s the design, setup and management of drive-through COVID testing sites and collaborates with students from Clemson’s School of Architecture in the design of mobile testing sites located around the Palmetto state.

“Everyone has been in our corner since the beginning. We want to make sure our care team and students are prepared for anything by giving them the tools and support they need. Thank you so much and thank you for letting me innovate,” he said.

Modrzynski also serves as a member of MUSC’s academic affairs faculty - readily sharing his innovative ideas and experiences teaching courses to interprofessional groups of students.

Mary Mauldin, Ed.D., professor and executive director of the Office of Instructional Technology and Faculty Resources, praised Modrzynski for his inventiveness and dedication. “Erik’s ability to think, plan and deliver experiences to help our students learn inside, outside and all around ‘the box’ has created tremendous interest from students that leaves them wanting to know even more about emergency response management and leadership in planning,” wrote Mauldin.

Frankie Wilholt Integrity 
The Coles present the Values award for Integrity to Dental Medicine's Frankie Wilhoit, second from right. She is joined by her nominator Dr. Sorin Teich.

Frankie Wilhoit was recognized with the Values in Action award for Integrity. As business and clinical operations manager in the Office of Clinical Affairs in the James B.Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Wilhoit has been a model for integration and collaboration with others. At a time when the pandemic challenged departments and colleges in difficult ways, Wilhoit and leaders were busy creating sustainable goals and a roadmap for supporting a safe and sustainable re-entry path for education and clinical services.

Wilhoit led planning for the first dental clinic embedded in the MUSC Health system located at the MUSC Health West Ashley Medical Pavilion and opening of the Ryan White Dental Clinic - a collaboration with Roper St. Francis Hospital. Both projects address the Lowcountry’s dental care needs.

“Frankie’s pleasant and impeccable work attitude reflects on everyone who surrounds her,” wrote Sorin Teich, D.M.D., associate dean for Clinical Affairs within the college. “She is appreciated by her peers, supervisors, faculty and students who interact with her. She is the soul of this team, and I am confident that she will continue her high level of performance in all of its ramifications.”

Christine Holmstedt Collaboration 
Department of Neurology's Dr. Christine Holmstedt, third from right, accepts the Values in Action award for Collaboration from the Coles and rehabilitation colleagues.

The Values in Action award for Collaboration went to Christine Holmstedt, D.O. A professor of Neurology and Emergency Medicine, medical director of MUSC’s Comprehensive Stroke Center and medical director of Teleneurosciences in the Department of Neurology, Holmstedt’s leadership, compassion and teaching excellence is reflected in her care of patients and working with trainees. Holmstedt also is a principal investigator of the NIH/COBRE Stroke Recovery Program, which features productive collaboration between the Department of Neurology and the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences within the College of Health Professions. This marks the first time inpatient physical therapists can take part in research with colleagues in the stroke recovery research center.

Sinead Farrelly, DPT, a stroke rehabilitation specialist in MUSC Health’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, is among a team of therapists and clinicians who have collaborated with Holmstedt in providing optimum care for patients.

“Not only has Dr. Holmstedt worked to build effective and collegial collaboration with our department, she actively engaged our input for the development of order sets and met with us countless times to assist in developing collaborative best practices,” wrote Farrelly. “Her innovativeness and actions embody the spirit of the collaboration award. She has provided us with the opportunity to supplement our clinical interests and direct patient care with scholarly research.”

Elizabeth Brown Value Respect 
College of Health Professions' Dr. Elizabeth Brown, center, receives the Values in Action Respect award from Dr. Cole.

Elizabeth Brown,Ph.D., was named the Values in Action Respect award winner. Brown, who is an assistant professor in the Division of Healthcare Studies, Department of Clinical Sciences in the College of Health Professions, was nominated for her strong work ethic, professionalism and genuine interest in making MUSC an inclusive and respectful environment for employees and students.

As part of her research, Brown implemented a modified privilege walk (MPW) as a classroom activity for undergrads to learn how social determinants of health, especially privilege, race/ethnicity, racism and social class, can affect health equity. She listened to students as they discussed the hardships of being different and its impact on their lives. The MPW project was used to teach students as part of the 2019 and 2020 MUSC Student Research Day. In summer of 2020, as the country faced racial unrest, Brown used her MPW model to conduct collegewide MPW workshops. Brown has since expanded her MPW workshops across MUSC and other institutions and professional organizations and it now includes an MPW Peer Education Program.

“Elizabeth is an energetic junior faculty and researcher focused on health disparities and meaningful teaching, learning and research that can occur in the classroom setting with future health care providers. She is thoughtful, graceful, organized and respectful when working with colleagues and students. I am happy to support her for the Respect Values in Action award,” wrote Jillian Harvey, Ph.D., division director, Doctor of Health Administration College of Health Professions.

Alyssa Rheingold Impact 
Values in Action Impact award winner Dr. Alyssa Rheingold, second right, accepts the award from the Coles and nominator Meg Wallace, right, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.


The Values in Action Impact award was presented to Alyssa Rheingold Ph.D. She was nominated for her work and expertise as a licensed clinical psychologist with the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center (NCVC) within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, in addition to her leadership and experience managing multiple collaborative programs in the Tri-county area as well as within MUSC.

“This really has been a team effort,” said Rheingold, upon receiving her certificate from the Coles. “Receiving this award represents a collaboration of so many people. I’m thankful to my team of colleagues and my family, including my husband and children. I couldn’t have been successful with my career without my husband and my children. Thank you very much.”

Rheingold is recognized for her leadership and ongoing support of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office Victims Services Department. Now a national model for communities nationwide, the program provides outreach and support services, such as counseling, case management services and outreach program for survivors of homicide.

Rheingold, along with the NCVC team, were instrumental in the summer of 2015, following the Mother Emanuel AMC Church shootings, as they coordinated services with support agencies, law enforcement and community partners and also established family resource centers and the Mother Emanuel Empowerment Center to support families and survivors of the shooting and manage the community’s response.

Most recently in the wake of COVID, Rheingold and her team established the Resiliency Program at MUSC to address the needs of front-line health care workers heavily affected by the physical and emotional tolls of the global pandemic. They created immediate response programs, individualized support services, support groups for units, trainings for hospital staff on mindfulness and self-care practices and programs to process grief and exhaustion. These programs continue to evolve and are standing programs available to all hospital care team members.

“Throughout her time, Rheingold has been a model of leadership, mentorship, collaboration and professionalism. Her impact at MUSC, the Charleston community, South Carolina, our country and even, internationally, has not gone unrecognized in our field. She remains a collaborative part of our team, helping to shape the next generation of compassionate, hard workers in the field of trauma and victimization,” wrote Meg Wallace, clinical instructor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

For information or to nominate someone, visit MUSC Values in Action.