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Nine medical professionals recognized as superheroes of medicine

Release Date: April 30, 2014
Contact: Kendi Parvin - 608.442.3748 kendi.parvin@wismed.org

Madison (April 30, 2014) – The Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation honored nine medical professionals as superheroes of medicine at its Fundraising Dinner and Silent Auction April 25. Those honored were chosen from nominations received from patients and colleagues. Each recipient was chosen for his or her unique superhero traits and was presented with a personalized certificate.

Two of the honorees were featured on stage along with the patients who nominated them. Britni McDonald of NBC15 in Madison served as emcee and interviewed the patients to help them tell their story and introduce their superhero doctor.

Rodney Willoughby, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, was recognized for saving the life of his patient, Jeanna Giese. Giese was within a few hours of certain death when brought to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, but because of Dr. Willoughby’s emergency experimental treatment, Giese is now known as the first person to survive rabies without receiving the vaccine. Dr. Willoughby spoke about others who have since survived rabies using variations of that treatment.

Nicholas Von Bergen, MD, a pediatric cardiology and electrophysiology specialist with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, was recognized for giving his patient her active life back. Katelyn Soldatke spoke about how her heart would race out of control with physical activity, forcing her to give up dance, horse riding and all the things she loved to do. After one unsuccessful surgery, a second more risky surgery worked. Dr. Von Bergen explained the science behind Katelyn’s condition and how it was treated. He also spoke about how each of us can become a superhero through good works—no superhuman powers required. Kathleen Maginot, MD, a UW Health pediatric cardiology and electrophysiology specialist who worked with Dr. Von Bergen on the surgery performed at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison also was honored, but unable to attend.

Proceeds from the event will support programs for medical students and residents—the future superheroes of medicine. Proceeds also will allow the Foundation to fund health education and research projects to improve health and to support innovations that show promise of improving health care.

The following six medical professionals also were honored as superheroes of medicine at the event.

  • Matthew Campbell, MD, Holy Family Memorial, Manitowoc, was nominated by a colleague for his extraordinary surgical skills, his kindness and compassion, his joyful personality and his commitment to service as evidenced by using his vacation time for medical mission work.
  • Margaret Dunn, MD, and Kathy Hernandez, MD, of Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Milwaukee, were nominated by a colleague on behalf of the patients they serve, many of whom have English as their second language. Both were nominated for their exceptional compassion and commitment to the health and wellness of some of the most underserved and vulnerable populations. Dr. Hernandez was unable to attend.
  • John McCartney, MD, of Meriter Pulmonary Medicine Clinic, Madison, was nominated by a patient for his compassion and commitment, his calming and approachable demeanor, and his ability to diagnose a rare pulmonary disease.
  • Krishna Prasad, MD, of Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic-Summit, was nominated by the grateful father of a patient for his extraordinary kindness, compassion and dedication and for the way he effectively communicates with and listens to patients and other health care staff.
  • JoAnne Robbins, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-S, of William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, was nominated by a patient for her skillful observation and persistence in researching and collaborating to invent a highly effective method of treatment for swallowing problems.

Additionally, seven physicians were acknowledged with honorable mention in the event program: Juan Albino, MD, Neenah; Orlando Alvarez, MD, West Allis; Bruce Harms, MD, Madison; James Napier, MD, Green Bay; Michael Phillips, MD, Oconomowoc; Robyn Titel, MD, Windsor; and Gary Zaid, MD, Kenosha.

A group photo of those honored at the event is available upon request.

The Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation, chartered in 1955 as a charitable organization, works to advance the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting medical and health education and statewide public health initiatives.