Press Release

Russell W. Johnson Receives AHA's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award

Russell W. Johnson, chief executive officer of San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center in Alamosa, Colo., is the 2007 winner of the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award.  The award recognizes the accomplishments of small or rural hospital leaders who have improved health care delivery in their communities through innovative and progressive efforts. 

Johnson has been CEO of San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center (SLVRMC) for six years and has twenty two years of health care management experience.  SLVRMC is the only full-service community hospital serving 47,000 people living in 8,000 square miles of rural, southern Colorado.  During his tenure, Johnson has developed collaborative relationships with the health care community to expand access and coverage for people in the area. 

Recognizing the importance of community collaboration in efforts to expand health care services, Johnson engaged with a local district hospital to develop a new critical access hospital (CAH) serving two of the poorest counties in Colorado.  The SLVRMC shares many services and responsibilities with the new CAH.  Johnson also works with a large, federally qualified health center to create and coordinate charity services that expand access to care for the uninsured and underinsured. 

In addition to expanding health care access, Johnson and his team worked to ensure SLVRMC was stronger and better able to meet the needs of the community.  New programs at the hospital include inpatient rehabilitation, wound care, services for patients with diabetes, dialysis, medication infusion center and the Stephanie L. Miner Women's Imaging Center.  These and other services have improved local access and reduced transportation time and costs for patients.  Johnson has worked with physician and executive leadership to increase the number of physicians serving patients at SLVRMC and created a new facility to accommodate the hospital's physicians and additional surgical services. 

In addition to his work at SLVRMC, Johnson, a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, is involved in several professional organizations including the AHA's Regional Policy Board 8, the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care, the Colorado Hospital Association and the Colorado Rural Health Council.  He is active in community groups such as the Alamosa Chamber of Commerce, the Alamosa Community Development Corporation and the Boy Scouts of America.  Johnson received a master's of health care administration at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. and a bachelor's of science degree in management and economics at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. 

This year the Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award also recognized three finalists for their significant achievements in service of their community: 

  • Kirk A. Dignum, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, Colo., led efforts to construct a state-of-the-art regional hospital to provide improved care for people in the rural Four Corners region.  He has also helped a local primary care provider remain open, helping thousands of patients retain access to preventative care. 
  • Louis D. Kraml, CEO of Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot, Idaho, expanded the availability of specialty care in Bingham County by working with and increasing the number of specialty providers at the hospital.  He has also developed relationships with physicians, local corporations and community organizations in order to improve the quality, availability and cost of health care in the area.  
  • Mark J. Woodring, CEO of Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa, expanded the medical center's walk-in clinic, making care more accessible and affordable; launched a new electronic medical record system; and announced a collaborative plan with the community of Harlan to build a $5 million wellness center to combat child obesity and chronic heart disease, and to focus on wellness and prevention.  Myrtue Medical Center's rural health clinics are also part of a national health care demonstration project, "TransforMED" with the American Academy of Family Physicians (  

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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