AAFP Names Top Physician, Education and Humanitarian Advocates

Five Family Physicians honored for outstanding contributions to Family Medicine

Friday, Sept.15, 2017

Stephanie A. Wilken
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6053
(913) 906-6000 ext. 6053

SAN ANTONIO — The American Academy of Family Physicians announced the recipients of its most prestigious awards at its annual meeting this week. Two family physicians from across the nation were recognized for their outstanding contributions to family medicine and the health of the public.

Each of these awards recognizes a family physician who have made exceptional advances in furthering the health of their communities through service and education.

- Gerard J. Hevern, MD, FAAFP, of Suncook, New Hampshire. Hevern was named the AAFP’s 2018 Family Physician of the Year. The award honors one outstanding American family physician who provides patients with compassionate, comprehensive care, and serves as a role model in his or her community, to other health professionals, and to residents and medical students.

Hevern has practiced the full scope of family medicine in a medically underserved community of 5,000 people in southern New Hampshire. He provides the full spectrum of services ranging from obstetrics to pediatrics to hospital and nursing home care for his patients as part of the Elliot Physician Network.

Very early in his career, Hevern recognized the integral role of family physicians in treating chronic pain and substance use disorders. Since 2008, he has served as medical director of comprehensive pain management at the Elliot Hospital Pain Management Center at River’s Edge in neighboring Manchester, New Hampshire, where he employs a comprehensive treatment approach to help high-risk patients who suffer from chronic pain syndrome and addiction.

His commitment to health and well-being extends beyond his practice to his community. He currently serves as a member of the Manchester Cooperative Pain and Opioid Project, a joint effort by local hospitals, health care systems and physicians to effectively deal with the surge in overdoses, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths due to the community’s opioid crisis. In addition, Hevern lectures at local and regional high schools, colleges and universities about substance abuse issues, and appears on local television programs to discuss prescription drug and alcohol abuse.

Hevern also has dedicated himself to helping children. He was a leader with the New Hampshire Youth Advocacy Project, where he provided education to foster parents about caring for children at risk for substance use disorders. As chairman of the medical advisory committee to the New Hampshire Easter Seals affiliate, he worked diligently to assist children with disabilities and special needs. Hevern currently serves on the board of directors for the Thompson Island Outward Bound School in Boston.

- Kyle Sheets, MD, a family physician in Lubbock, Texas, was awarded the AAFP’s Humanitarian Award. The Humanitarian Award honors extraordinary and enduring humanitarian efforts by AAFP members, both within and beyond the borders of the United States.

Sheets is the founder and CEO of Concord Medical Group, a physician-owned and operated organization, in Lubbock, Texas. He created Concord in 2001 to meet the needs of rural hospitals in the west Texas area. It has since grown to serve three additional states.

Sheets was a third-year resident at the Via Christi Family Medicine Residency in Wichita, Kansas. He was seeking a one-month clinical rotation where he and his family could experience a new culture. In the summer of 1999, Sheets, his wife and their 10 children, took a trip to Zimbabwe, where he served at the Karanda Mission Hospital. This experience changed his worldview forever.

Four years later, he started PAPA Missions (Physicians Aiding Physicians Abroad). The intent was to provide practical help to other physicians who had a desire for medical missions, but no practical experience in planning mission trips. Since PAPA’s missions began in Zimbabwe, hundreds of volunteers have gone to six different countries, and medical supplies have been shipped to needy medical facilities around the world.

He is currently involved in building a new hospital and clinic in the rural mountains of Guatemala. It is a joint project with DOCS for Hope. It will be the only facility available for Mayan women in need of operative deliveries and for inpatient treatment of common childhood diseases.

Sheets has improved the lives of many people around the world, through direct patient care and the mentoring of the next generation of health care providers.

- Norman Chenven, MD, a family physician in Austin, Texas, was awarded the AAFP’s Robert Graham Physician Executive Award. This award is reserved for AAFP members whose executive skills in health care organizations have contributed to excellence in the provision of high quality health care, and demonstrated that family physicians can have an impact on improving the overall health of the nation.

Chenven currently serves as the founding chief executive officer of Austin Regional Clinic and president and CEO of Covenant Management Systems, both in Austin, Texas. Founded in 1980, ARC is a physician-owned and physician-governed multispecialty medical group with a focus on patient-centered, high quality primary care. It currently has 350 physicians and annual net revenue of $250 million.

Chenven leads the strategic vision and daily operations for ARC, which delivers care to more than 400,000 people in central Texas. Early on, he focused on infrastructure innovation and investment, including building a telemedicine platform that offers service directly to patients.

- John Saultz, MD, a family physician in Portland, Oregon, received the Thomas W. Johnson Award. The award recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to family medicine education in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education spheres.

Saultz served as chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University for 17 years. Last year, he stepped down and now serves as professor of family medicine. He continues to provide patient care and conduct research.

Under Saultz’s leadership, the department achieved national prominence. It has been recognized for its advocacy for community health, and for innovative initiatives that help advance family medicine and support patient-centered care. The department was an early supporter of the medical home concept and has been instrumental in helping shape aspects of Oregon’s current health care transformation.

Saultz has contributed more than 30 years of leadership and guidance toward the advancement of family medicine education on local, regional and national stages

- John Frey, MD, a family physician in Madison, Wisconsin, was awarded the John G. Walsh Award. This award honors those individuals whose dedication and effective leadership has furthered the development of family medicine. It recognizes long-term dedication, rather than any single significant contribution, and effective leadership toward furthering the development of family medicine. This award is not granted on a regular basis, but is awarded at the discretion of the Board.

In 1993, Frey joined the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as professor and chair, where he served until 2006. He remains on the faculty as professor emeritus with interests in community health programs, community-based research, and medical journalism.

Frey served on numerous Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and AAFP committees. He
was an STFM board member from 1997 to 2000, and served as STFM president from 1998 to 1999. He also served on the literature selection review committee at the National Library of Medicine and on a training advisory committee at the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. He was on the founding editorial board of Annals of Family Medicine and
remains an associate editor.

Frey has had 17 invited professorships, given 49 national and international presentations and led innumerable seminars and workshops.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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