Northside Hospital April 10, 2018

The Frist Humanitarian Award was created in 1971 to honor outstanding individuals for their humanitarian and volunteer activities. Named in honor of Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Sr., a founder of HCA, this award recognizes individuals whose daily dedication and care giving epitomize the highest standards of quality and personal commitment. Dr. Frist’s concern for the wellbeing of others went beyond his day-to-day work at HCA. In addition to building a successful corporation, he served his community in a variety of ways. He founded the Frist Foundation in 1982, a philanthropic organization that donated millions of dollars in support of health programs, the performing arts and education. Throughout his life, Dr. Frist embraced the worth of the human spirit and the duty of each of us to work diligently to improve ourselves and those with whom we come in contact. He remained true to his beliefs about the value of kindness and happiness, about thankfulness and giving, and about integrity and living a life of gentle morality.

And that is one reason to honor our local Frist Humanitarian Award recipients, one employee, one volunteer and one physician, who have exemplified the humanitarian spirit upon which HCA is founded. We also celebrate our HCA Excellence in Nursing Award recipient, which is the newest addition to our family of HCA Awards of Distinction. This award is Celebrates the extraordinary clinical and compassionate care delivered by our nurses every day. There are two categories this nurse could have been nominated under and they are either compassionate care and/or professional mentoring.

2017 Frist Physician Award Recipient:

Dr. Christopher Wilson

Dr. Wilson is an outstanding physician who is passionate about teaching and as many know, he is passionate about music. His residents and students have described him as being “an inspiring educator who truly takes interest in helping residents and student become better clinicians." He makes learning positive, fun and he spends countless hours giving lectures and challenging student's minds.

Dr. Wilson also loves to share his passion and gift for music. He and his band, The Simian Theory, have organized and played at fundraisers to support the American Heart Association, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports our military. In addition, he has organized performances for local community members fighting cancer and other childhood diseases.

Dr. Wilson has a kind heart and a giving soul. He is always going above and beyond to educate and help others whenever he can both as a physician and in his commitment to community service.

2017 Frist Employee Award Recipient:

Danny Hernandez

Danny Hernandez is the Frist Humanitarian award recipient due to his commitment to enriching the lives of those in the community he lives in, the patients he serves and people he works with. Danny has an unrelenting positive attitude that is contagious in every interaction he has with others. Whether it is a patient he greets at 5:00 a.m. coming in for surgery, a transporter peer needing a helping hand, or volunteering at the Ronald McDonald house over a holiday, he shows a sincere interest in making a positive impact on everyone he comes in contact with. He receives countless compliments from the patients for his relatable sense of humor and ability to reduce their anxiety as he is escorting them back for surgery procedures, which creates a great first impression of the organization and paves the way for a positive patient experience. In his role as a transporter, he is extremely helpful to his peers, always willing to go the extra mile without hesitation. The nursing units praise him for his thorough approach to ensure the patient is completely settled prior to moving on to his next task, and is always sure to give them an extra hand with anything should they need it.

Aside from his full time job, Danny is full time nursing student, exemplifying his degree of commitment to gaining knowledge to make a greater impact as a healthcare professional as he goes along. His aspirations to be a physician are evident with his ability to juggle a full work and school load while providing support to his family and anyone else who needs it. It is easy for most people with such a busy schedule to kick back and relax for a few days over the holidays, but Danny devotes his miniscule amount of free time to helping those who need it the most at the Ronald McDonald house in St. Petersburg. He is truly a selfless person and carries himself in a manner that is mature far beyond his years.

2017 Frist Volunteer Award Recipient:

Ed Flanigan

In the last two years, Ed has been the backbone of one of Northside’s most successful volunteer initiatives: patient discharge transport. From August, 2016 through November, 2017, he performed 1,426 discharges which enabled nurses to spend 278 more hours bedside, providing patient care. While these numbers are impressive on their own, it’s worth mentioning he is also 82 years old and holds three four-hour shifts per week – triple the commitment the average volunteer serves! It has become his personal mission to ensure patients’ experiences are positive right up to the time they are discharged. He is acutely aware of the suffering of others and makes it a point to share his jokes to brighten the spirits of patients and staff alike.

Perhaps his ability to add levity to an otherwise challenging time comes from his own personal heartache. As a young father, he lost an 18-month old child to a spinal tumor. Then, his beloved wife passed before he came to serve at Northside. He has been a stalwart volunteer, covering countless shifts for other volunteers, and is always the first one to raise his hand when a need arises. His volunteer service also extends beyond the hospital. He has served at a local interfaith food pantry for nearly a decade, and has also mentored young men.

2017 Nursing Excellence Award Recipient:

Erin Mcelhenny

Erin is a relatively new nurse in terms of years of service; however, her dedication to the Northside team is evident in all she does for the team, the patients, and for families. As a charge nurse, she runs a tight ship. She has compassion for the patients and encourages staff to be their best. Staff look to her for guidance and she always takes time to teach staff the proper process and provides meaningful feedback. Erin also does relief house supervision. In this role, she works with the nursing team and ancillary departments to ensure the best care is provided and patients are admitted in a timely manner. Even though this is a high stress position, Erin maintains a calm and collected attitude and ensures nothing falls through the cracks.

In addition to these nursing roles, Erin is also the Chair for the Caring Practice Council. Under Erin’s direction, Northside has accomplished many things that have improved the care we provide to our patients as well as each other. The flip-flop and clothes drives that Erin has championed has allowed nurses to provide clothes and shoes to patients at the time of discharge. Nurses are recognized and celebrated through the planning of events like the Nursing Year in Review and the Annual Awards Banquet.


Thank you to our three winners, Danny Hernandez, Ed Flanigan, and Dr. Wilson for demonstrating so well the ideas of Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr. and representing the spirit of HCA. Thank you to Erin Mcelhenny for your outstanding commitment to being compassionate and caring nurse!