Dr. Erik Riesenfeld and Maureen Kuhn, NP, Recipients of Walter A. Franck Physician Excellence Award and Advanced Practice Clinical Award of Excellence
Bassett Healthcare Network is proud to announce the 2021 recipients of the Walter A. Franck Physician Excellence Award and the Advanced Practice Clinical Award of Excellence. These awards are among the network’s highest honors.
Erik Riesenfeld, MD, Awarded Walter A. Franck Physician Excellence Award
Erik Riesenfeld, MD, medical director of respiratory therapy at Bassett Medical Center (BMC), has been awarded the Walter A. Franck Physician Excellence Award. Physicians are nominated for this prestigious recognition for demonstrating extraordinary service to patients, students, colleagues, and the community – traits that emulate the career of retired Bassett rheumatologist Walter A Franck. Network physicians vote to choose the final recipient.
The Franck Award is a recognition of Dr. Riesenfeld’s extraordinary leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. “On behalf of the entire BMC critical care team, Dr. Riesenfeld deserves the Walter A. Franck Award for his unwavering commitment to outstanding patient care,” colleagues explained in their written nomination. “He and his critical care colleagues performed in a heroic manner by putting their own lives at risk to save their patients. He is an excellent communicator, team player, educator, and role model to residents and colleagues.”
“This recognition is very humbling,” says Dr. Riesenfeld.
“I feel like I am receiving it on behalf of others – leaders who rebuilt the hospital to accommodate as many patients as possible, nurses who risked their lives to stay at their patients’ bedsides, respiratory therapists who made rounds day and night to save lives, and the environmental services staff who cleaned and sterilized. Everybody made a remarkable effort for our patients.”
In addition to working with respiratory therapists in critical care, Dr. Riesenfeld was a co-investigator in Bassett’s clinical trials of various possible COVID-19 therapies. This work was what he found personally rewarding.
“The pandemic suddenly accelerated the pace of the medical field,” says Dr. Riesenfeld. “We have to quickly adapt to follow the scientific evidence. Our understanding and our strategies evolved week-to-week. That was exciting.”
Like many frontline caregivers and practitioners, Dr. Riesenfeld can’t help but acknowledge this complex mix of emotions about his pandemic work. “This has been a hard time – you can’t come out of it feeling great. A lot of people have suffered and died. It was truly horrible. But on the other hand, I’m very proud of what we did. We rose to the occasion and served our community.”
Maureen Kuhn, NP, Awarded Advanced Practice Clinical Award of Excellence
Maureen Kuhn, NP, medical director of Cherry Valley Health Center, has been awarded the Advanced Practice Clinical Award of Excellence. Kuhn’s nomination lauds her as an exceptional caregiver who uses all resources at her disposal to meet patient needs, as a gifted leader and a trusted guide for other leaders, and as an inspiring teacher raising up tomorrow’s caregivers.
“To get this award from peers I’ve worked with is a great honor,” says Kuhn. “I have particularly enjoyed teaching nurse practitioner students for more than 35 years. I came here as a precept student working with Dr. Pollack, Debbie Dickenson, and George Case. When I returned later to work full-time I committed myself to giving back. I’ve always had a nurse practitioner student since.”
Kuhn’s nominators consider her an exceptional community member as well. “She has established a deep, abiding connection with the Cherry Valley community,” they say. “She is their provider, their friend, their counselor. She is a part of the community in a way that few practitioners can begin to emulate.”
“You get what you give,” reflects Kuhn. “Anytime you make an investment in an organization, you get something back. Committing yourself to a community enhances your practice. It’s a blessing taking care of three, four, or five generations of a family and knowing that history. I’ve attended my patients’ weddings, funerals, graduation parties, and those sorts of things.
“The last 38 years have been a good ride,” she says. “This award is a great capstone as I look ahead to retirement.”