Press Release

AHA's Federal Hospital Constituency Section Honors Two Leaders

The American Hospital Association's (AHA) Section for Federal Hospitals today presented two hospital leaders with awards recognizing their outstanding service in the health care field.  These awards recognize federal health care executives who have distinguished themselves through singularly significant achievements that have contributed substantially to the mission of the federal health system.  The Section supports federal hospitals as they build integrated networks that improve the health status of the people they serve.

"The women and men of the federal system do so much for so many people," said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA.  "Today's award winners exemplify what dedication and commitment can achieve and how their work can improve the lives of many."

The recipient of the 2009 Executive Special Achievement Award is LCDR Megan Wohr, Indian Health Service, Division of Epidemiology, National Tobacco Control Specialist, Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz.    LCDR Wohr exemplifies commitment to excellence in her performance and dedication.  She is a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service, currently assigned to the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention under the title of IHS Tobacco Control Specialist.  She is also coordinator of the National IHS Tobacco Control Task Force, a multidisciplinary team consisting of volunteer representatives from across the Indian Health system as well as partners from tobacco control organizations.  Additionally, she coordinates the Office of Women's Health Low Socio-Economic Women Tobacco Health Resources and Services Administration and the IHS Collaboration Project, overseeing $400,000 in funds for clinical demonstration projects in IHS/Tribal/Urban facilities.

A clinical pharmacy specialist since 2000, Wohr earned both her National Clinical Certification in Nicotine Cessation and her Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certification in 2003.  Wohr is responsible for the development, field testing and implementation of the IHS Tobacco Control Fieldbook, Implementing Tobacco Control in the Primary Healthcare Setting, and IHS Tobacco Intervention Skills Certification.  As such, she has planned and implemented a tobacco prevention and treatment program at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center Centers of Excellence that has helped many patients.  She has also worked with traditional Indian medicine providers to create a tobacco-free workplace that respects and recognizes the traditional use of tobacco in ceremonies.

Wohr participates in numerous health promotion activities, is a member of the Executive Board of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arizona and serves as a mentor for new United States Public Health Service Officers.  She serves on the Department of Health and Human Services' Tobacco Prevention and Control Working Group.

The winner of the 2009 Executive Award for Excellence is CAPT Russell Shilling, executive director for science and technology, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological  Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE),  assigned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.   CAPT Shilling helped to establish DCoE in 2007 as a member of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Red Cell, a group that created the investment strategy aimed at treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.  In this position, he has initiated and transitioned programs to assist warfighters and their families across all military services and acted as an advisor on medical science and technology issues.  Shilling is a leader in medical research program management and an expert on the use of advanced simulation, videogame technology and entertainment assets to supplement medical education, training and treatment.

In 2009, Shilling led efforts to develop investment strategies for over $160 million in research funds.  He helped transition the Virtual Reality Therapy program he created in 2005, which uses fully immersive computer recreations of Iraq and Afghanistan to give therapists tools to supplement traditional therapy.  The technology has been adopted in over 40 hospitals and other treatment facilities across Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and the civilian sector.  Also in 2009, Shilling initiated a major research program with the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California to develop the use of advanced intelligent computer avatars as educational outreach tools to warriors and families to help destigmatize psychological health treatment and link those seeking help with the best resources where they live.  Additionally, his research programs aid in pandemic planning.

Also Shilling created a program with the Sesame Workshop to help service members' children cope with parental deployments and with having a parent physically or psychologically injured in combat.  A companion Web site,, was launched which includes all DVD materials and allows military families to create private accounts in which family members can interact in a Sesame Street themed, interactive environment.  The next phase of the program will be released with a corresponding prime time special on April 14, 2010, to help children cope with the death of a parent or loved one. To date, the program has been awarded two prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Awards and an Interactive Media Association "Best in Class."

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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