Press Release

Ronald Cork Receives AHA's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award

Ronald Cork, president and CEO of Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill, Neb., is the 2008 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. 

Cork has been president and CEO of Avera St. Anthony's Hospital for 17 years and has 29 years of health care management experience.  Avera St. Anthony's Hospital is a 25- bed critical access hospital serving a large rural area in northeastern Nebraska.  During his tenure, Cork collaborated with the community to create outreach programs and with hospital staff to develop health care services and expand access for people in the area.

Recognizing the importance of community collaboration in efforts to expand health care services, Cork worked with a committee to obtain a grant providing public transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.  Called the Avera Hand-i-van, the program was so successful that two additional vehicles were added to the service.  The hospital also hosts an annual Health Fair, which recently served 1,500 people, focused on screening and preventive health care.  Additionally, Avera St. Anthony's sponsors programs for children through the Safe Kids Chapter, which provides free bike inspections, helmets and child passenger safety seat checks. 

Additionally, Cork worked to ensure Avera St. Anthony's Hospital was stronger and better able to meet the needs of the community through a major hospital renovation in 2002.  Programs expanded at the time included outpatient clinics, a kidney dialysis unit, dietary services, business office and admissions areas, cardiac rehabilitation, oncology and rehabilitation services.  The services improve local access to care and reduce transportation time and costs for patients.  Cork was recently successful in recruiting to the hospital an orthopedic surgeon and a physician's assistant to provide valuable sports medicine and joint replacement care to the community.  Cork also oversaw the opening of the first eICU (electronic intensive care unit) bed in Nebraska, giving intensive care unit patients constant, around-the-clock care in the rural setting and close to home.  Currently, the hospital is reviewing plans for another major renovation to further expand services, including a medical office building and a new emergency department. 

In addition to his work at Avera St. Anthony's, Cork is involved in several community organizations.  Cork is a charter member and secretary of the Rotary club and serves on the O'Neill Housing Committee; recently, he received the Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Award for his efforts in bringing new business enterprises to O'Neill.  Cork received a master's and a bachelor of art's degree in business education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. 

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

  • Patrick J. Murtha, DHA, president and CEO of St. Joseph Health System in Tawas City, Mich., has improved access to care for the uninsured and underinsured by coordinating health care services through the Rural Prevention Network (RPN), a group of five health care providers.  Through this effort, patient information is easier to share between providers in the RPN, patients have access to dental care and assistance with paying for prescription drugs and the vast majority of patients have a "medical home".
  • Connie L. Schroeder, president and CEO of Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield, Ill., established the Community Advisory Committee, a group of community members that provides opinions and recommendations to the hospital on a range of issues, including a potential hospitalist program and new clinical services.  Illini Community Hospital also collaborates with several health care organizations to offer access to a wide range of services for the rural area it serves. 
  • Thomas White, president and CEO of Jameson Health System in New Castle, Pa., has expanded access to health care services for people living in Lawrence County, Penn. and the surrounding areas.  Jameson Health System also has developed the Community Outreach Program and the Children's Advocacy Center of Lawrence County to provide medical and non-medical services outside the walls of the health system.

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

About AHA


Member Constituency Sections

Key Relationships

News Center

Performance Improvement

Advocacy Issues

Products & Services


Research & Trends


155 N. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60606

800 10th Street, N.W.
Two CityCenter, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20001-4956