Press Release

Colleen Meza Receives AHA's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award

Colleen ‘Casey’ Meza, CEO of Clearwater Valley and St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics (CVH/SMH) in Orofino, Idaho is the 2010 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. 

In February, 1998, CVH/SMH forged a partnership through the Benedictine Health System based in Duluth, Minn. to form a regional health care system.  Under Meza’s leadership, CVH/SMH share a joint management team, exchange staff, enter into joint service and purchasing contracts and support one another in carrying out the mission of the Essentia Community Hospital & Clinics (formerly Benedictine Health System).

As a part of its health care mission, both hospitals acquired or established satellite medical clinics in Kamiah, Kooskia, Nezperce, Grangeville, Craigmont, Pierce, Cottonwood and Orofino. They hosted close to 45,000 patient visits in 2009.  CVH/SMH has rapidly advanced its use of telemedicine and local collaboration to expand the services and care offered to its patients and community. 

CVH/SMH serves all county residents in its rural community regardless of their ability to pay and cares for a large percentage of patients who are poor, lack insurance and are elderly.  Meza understood that this presented a unique challenge for her hospitals.  One successful approach has been to greatly expand their use of information technology (IT).  Today the vast majority of her employees have email and Internet access – in 2003 this figure was only about 23 out of the more than 350 plus employees.  Each facility has advanced videoconferencing equipment (Remote Presence Robot) that allows two-way mobile conferencing between doctors, nurses and off-site specialists to improve patient care on-site and offer further training opportunities for caregivers and staff.  Additionally, patients now have access to psychiatric care.  Through these advancements and more, CVH/SMH can bridge the distance between their hospitals and provide more for their community and the patients they serve while being conscientious stewards of the hospitals’ resources. 

Meza was appointed CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital in 1989 and assumed the directorship of Clearwater Valley Hospital in 1998.  She was recently awarded the 2009 Excellence in Patient Care Award from the Idaho Hospital Association for her telehealth program and for her efforts to promote the use of IT to her fellow rural CEOs.  Additionally, she was named Health Care Hero by the Idaho Business Review and Business Person of the Year by the Lewiston Morning Tribune.

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

  • Marcia Dial serves as CEO of Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, Mo. and was recognized for her leadership and vision.  Scotland County Hospital is a 25-bed, critical access hospital in a remote part of Northeast Missouri and serves as a vital health link to those in the surrounding community.  Dial has been with the hospital for over 35 years and has served as CEO since 1988.  During that time she has helped the hospital grow through improved cardiovascular offerings, the creation of a women’s center and successful recruiting campaigns that address the hospital’s unique workforce needs.   
  • Gary W. Mitchell, FACHE, as CEO of Newman Memorial Hospital in Shattuck, Okla., has successfully advanced his vision for the hospital by providing innovative programs to sustain and enhance the availability and delivery of service in an isolated, rural area.  Mitchell, serving as CEO since 1990, reestablished surgery through recruitment of local surgeons and expanded his medical staff during his tenure, focused on preventative measures to improve the communities’ health and improved quality reporting within his facility.   
  • Jim Dickson, CEO of Copper Queen Community Hospital (CQMA) in Bisbee, Ariz., has continually met the hospital’s mission to maintain and support access to basic primary health care throughout their community by providing leadership and vision to address opportunities and challenges.  Dickson has been with CQMA since 1999 and through collaboration and innovation has successfully met the needs of the community in a changing health care environment and bring access to higher levels of care.  Dickson has also greatly expanded CQMA’s use of IT to connect its resources to other providers in the community.

Shirley Ann Munroe Award

Shirley Ann Munroe was an advocate for small and rural hospitals and was instrumental in the creation of the AHA's Section for Small or Rural Hospitals, a forum working to support small and rural hospitals as they improve their community's health.

The award is sponsored by the AHA's Section for Small or Rural Hospitals and the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET).  It is presented annually to a hospital administrator or chief executive officer who has displayed outstanding leadership in meeting the ongoing challenge of small or rural hospital management.  Last year's award recipient was Scott M. Street, president and CEO of Duncan Regional Hospital in Duncan, Okla.

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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