Fruehling presented with Physician Lifetime Achievement Award

Grand Island, Neb. — Richard Fruehling MD, FAAFP, was named as the first recipient of Saint Francis Medical Center’s Physician Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday night at Grand Island Riverside Golf Club.

The Physician Lifetime Achievement Award, which is selected by the Medical Staff Development Committee, honors a physician for their exemplary qualities, contributions to healthcare in Grand Island and to the community and medical staff. The award winner shall have invested their life in Grand Island, lived the ideals of professionalism and has made a major impact in healthcare delivery.

“Dr. Fruehling not only embodies everything that this award represents, but he also lives our Core Values of Reverence, Integrity, Compassion and Excellence,” said Dan McElligott, Saint Francis Medical Center president/CEO. “This makes him a perfect first recipient of The Physician Lifetime Achievement award and gives us a high standard for all future honorees to be compared against.”

A physician selected for the Saint Francis Physician Lifetime Achievement Award has excelled and demonstrated sustained commitment to many of the following criteria:

?Leadership roles inside and outside of Saint Francis.

?Volunteer and community impact.

?Contribution to their field through academia or research.

?Teaching or mentoring of physicians, medical students or residents.

?Exemplary conduct with peers and hospital staff.

?Ideal professional.

?Keeping abreast of treatments and techniques.

?Contribute to leadership roles within the medical staff.

?Create and develop new programs.

?Practiced as a physician 25 years or longer as an MD and 15 years or greater in Grand Island.

“The idea of the award was to identify a physician who, for a professional lifetime, has been committed to the community of Grand Island, and in Dr. Fruehling’s case, not just the community, but the entire state of Nebraska,” said Dr. Michael Hein, Saint Francis vice president for Medical Affairs/Chief Medical Officer. “He demonstrates what we all envision and aspire to be; he embodies the very best qualities of physician professionalism: Community service, education, clinical skills, leadership in the hospital and on hospital committees, leadership in the community with service organizations, and a commitment in those areas for decades.

“We really wanted to select an individual who embodied the full scope of what is the best our profession has to offer to the community.”

Fruehling has played a major role in leading the Rural Health Education Network pilot location in Grand Island. In 2001, Fruehling was named as Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner Award by the Nebraska Rural Health Association and has had a tremendous impact on hundreds of residents during the course of his career.

RHEN plays a crucial role in addressing health care workforce shortages in rural Nebraska. This is accomplished through partnerships with rural communities, primary health care providers, and Nebraska’s Area Health Education Centers. Since the program’s inception, RHEN has built successful programs that have developed a cadre of health care professionals serving rural Nebraska.

“As almost all of the residents who have worked with Dr. Fruehling would probably tell you, he’s one of the most honest and caring physicians I have ever worked with as far as his integrity and professionalism,” said Zach Meyer, MD, of Grand Island Family Practice. “Whenever you see Dr. Fruehling with patients or just in the workplace, he makes you aspire to be a better physician. As far as family practice physicians in the state of Nebraska, he’s probably been one of the most instrumental ones out there.”

Meyer said Dr. Fruehling has been instrumental to RHEN program in Grand Island. A native of Central City, Neb., Meyer said he attended the University of Nebraska Medical Center with the idea that he would come back to Central Nebraska to practice in a more rural setting and that the RHEN program and Dr. Fruehling have provided him with an excellent opportunity.

“There’s definitely a different style when you’re at the Med Center and in family practice in Omaha or urban areas — a lot different than family practice out in more rural Nebraska,” Meyer said. “In a rural practice, you have to be more well-rounded, more versatile and you’re going to see more issues where you may consult with specialists in larger areas. Out here, I think you do more procedures and you kind of have to be on your game in terms of the breadth of information you have to know.”

Hein said that over the past two decades, nearly 25 family medicine doctors practicing — not only in Grand Island, but across the state of Nebraska — participated in the Grand Island RHEN program.

“Dr. Fruehling has been involved with the program since its beginning and has been the director, so he has touched and developed many family medicine docs and most of those are still practicing in Nebraska,” Hein said. “In that sense, he’s left his professional and personal imprint on the lives of many family practice physicians who are serving rural communities across the state.

“We had an opportunity to revisit some of the data and information related to the impact of the RHEN program this year and the realization I had is that Dr. Fruehling and the RHEN program are not just a Grand Island resource, but a state of Nebraska resource. Through those efforts with his leadership and mentorship, he’s impacted the entire state and has left a magnificent legacy.”

About Saint Francis Medical Center

Saint Francis Medical Center is a nonprofit faith-based hospital serving Central Nebraska with state-of-the-art healthcare services. A new patient tower was completed in 2007 with 159 acute-care patient rooms, including the Family Birthing Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Intensive Care Unit and a 10-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit. Saint Francis also operates a Cancer Treatment Center in Grand Island and Hastings, a Skilled Care Unit and an alcohol and drug treatment center.

About Catholic Health Initiatives

Saint Francis Medical Center is part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a national nonprofit health organization with headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The faith-based system operates in 19 states and includes 73 hospitals; 40 long-term care, assisted- and residential-living facilities; two community health-services organizations; two accredited nursing colleges; and home health agencies. In fiscal year 2011, CHI provided more than $612 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. With annual operating revenues of approximately $9.6 billion, CHI is the nation's third-largest Catholic health care system.