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Van Miller Homecare Champion Award

 

Industry Honors Excellence

Since 2011, the industry has recognized and honored an AAHomecare member for outstanding service to the HME community. This prominent award was renamed in 2016 to reflect the characteristics of an HME visionary, Van G. Miller, past CEO and founder of the VGM Group, as well as a previous Homecare Champion.  

Characteristics considered for a Homcare Champion include an AAHomecare member who has made an exceptional contribution to the homecare sector throughout their career in one or more of the following ways: 

  • Longstanding record of service within the homecare community;
  • Embodiment of the spirit of caring and generosity which are the hallmarks of this profession;
  • Active membership and engagement in the American Association for Homecare.

The 2022 Nominees

  • Greg Duckworth, Senior Vice President of Med-South Inc. -
    Greg Duckworth has been involved in HME for 22 years and has filled multiple roles within the industry, currently serving as Senior Vice President at Med-South, Inc. & Affiliates.  Greg leads 25 plus physical locations across the state to provide  HME, diagnostic imaging via Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Sleep Disorder testing via Polysomnographic services  (Sleep Centers) and management of various chronic disease states.  Med-South, Inc. is joint ventured or affiliated with 20+ of Alabama's largest and most reputable healthcare organizations.  Greg is a member of the Board of Directors for joint ventures with hospital partners such as Huntsville Hospital (HGA), St. Vincent's & Providence (Ascension), Jackson Hospital and Infirmary Health.  He brings strong leadership and industry knowledge to his role.

    Greg is an experienced executive, and a trusted business partner with a wealth of experience in executing on strategic initiatives, facilitating effective operational outcomes, and desirable financial results.

    Greg is responsible for the overall growth of the company, leading the company through mergers and acquisitions.  Greg is also engaged in collaborative partnerships with Health Networks and Payers to effectively manage large patient populations. Greg's collaboration with the leadership team, providing direction over day to day operations of the HME team, the Sleep Division Operations and PET Division Operations, has been a guiding force through the years.

    Greg is a trusted leader in the HME industry, exhibiting qualities such as humility, honesty, passion, and a caring attitude  for the population we serve. He easily develops and fosters relationships internally and externally, never loosing sight of the  service we provide our customers or the reason we exist. 

    Greg has led our organization through the tumultuous years of COVID, recalls, price increases and lowered reimbursements. Greg has the true heart of a teacher, with a strong backbone for leadership and operational oversight. He actively engages  staff to continue to pursue professional grown and exhibits a caring attitude.  Greg truly lives the Med-South, Inc. & Affiliates  vision to be the preferred partner for HME, post acute disease management and related continuum of care. He shows  up and meets the challenges faced by the HME industry with vigor and passion. It is an honor and a privilege to work with someone who exhibits such a passion to serve. 
     
  • John Gallagher, Vice President, VGM Group-
    I nominate John E. Gallagher is Vice President, Government Relations for The VGM Group, Inc. as the 2022 Hoimecare Champion.  John has been a fixture in the DME industry since 2002.  I entered the DME world in 1987 and remember John from his first visit to Medtrade with the VGM Group in 2002.  We immediately struck up a friendship as we were both military men and proud to have served our country.

    John has every attribute of a true Homecare Champion, a deep commitment to the industry, a tireless belief in the job of DME providers, a desire to help every provider to succeed, and endless energy to travel and speak to providers and associations around the country.  John’s responsibility as an advocate on behalf of VGM members and DME providers to Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies has made him an invaluable resource for us all.  John is always there when he is needed.  We have traveled to the same venues to speak many times and my dread was to have to follow his presentations.  

    With the leadership changes at AAHomecare in 2013, and the total commitment of VGM to get behind our national association, John’s leadership and involvement has elevated us within Washington and every state.   John has traveled thousands of miles across the country to educate both the state associations and independent providers on regulatory and government issues.  Despite this travel, John always tried to be home for family on weekend and vacations.  He is a tremendous supporter of his local community, the U S Army, his church, and his Irish roots.  His activities in support of community and family are above and beyond the call of duty.

    His value to this industry and his support cannot be measured and he is deserving of being recognized as a true Homecare Champion.
     
  • Zach Gantt, RRT, FAARC, President & CEO of Encore Healthcare-
    Zach grew up in the home care/respiratory industry, as part of a family of successful respiratory therapists and entrepreneurs.   Zach’s exposure to the industry at a young age helped develop  his appreciation for the critical role that homecare plays in the overall healthcare continuum, as well as his belief that respiratory therapists are a key element in providing improved care and outcomes to patients in the post-acute care setting.   As VP of Health Management & Chief Clinical Officer at Alana Healthcare, Zach developed the CROM program which transitioned the company from a Durable Medical Equipment provider in TN into a national Disease Management  organization.  In the decade since that role, Zach has championed the need for the homecare industry to start taking the steps necessary to prepare for the eventual shift from fee-for-service to clinical outcomes-focused, value-based care.  Zach has lectured extensively on this topic at state, regional, and national conferences over the years, and he founded Encore Healthcare in 2015 for the express purpose of developing a software platform and program that can help DMEs improve their respiratory patients’ clinical outcomes, while reducing overall costs to the healthcare system. 

    Dave Lyman, SVP of Sales & Member Success at VGM states the following, “Zach has changed the way a DME provider looks at a patient. He has designed a COPD Outcomes program to assist DME's in better serving their patients in their respected community and to have a better overall quality of life.”   By helping DMEs to improve their patients’ outcomes and reduce readmissions, Zach has been able to significantly improve his DME customers’ organic growth and has helped secure unique value-based payor contracts based on clinical outcomes data supplied by his software platform. 
     
  • Gene Sego, President of Sego's Home Medical Equipment-
    I am nominating Gene Sego based upon many factors, but the most prevalent is he has been an inspiration to me personally and as an industry leader / champion. Gene first inspired me to not only become a FACHS Board member, but part of the executive committee. During which time Gene has lead the charge in lobbying efforts in both the state and federal legislature on behalf of the HME industry. Under Gene’s term as president, FAHCS membership, the number of board members, lobbying efforts and state industry initiatives all grew and prospered. Gene has supported and lead initiatives for insurance payor reform efforts, advances in state fee schedules, CMS coverage criteria modifications and many other high priority level industry issues. He has supported them all both with time and financial contributions selflessly. He has been a long-standing member of FAHCS, AAHomecare (along with your State Leader Council), VGM and many other industry advocacy groups.

    Gene is widely respected on a national level as an industry leader with over 30 years of experience. Gene has tackled industry change and survived as a prosperous business owner and industry advocate. I cannot think of anyone more qualified or deserving of the AA Homecare 2022 Champion Award. It is my honor and privilege to call Gene an industry pioneer, advocate, colleague and friend. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss my nomination. I appreciate the consideration given to my nomination and await the positive results of your decision.
     
  • Jim Walsh, Chairman of the Board, VGM Group-
    Jim has served the HME industry for more than 30 years and was best friends with Van, for which this award is named.  

    As one of the original founders of VGM, Jim recognized the need to support small businesses, providers, and vendors in the HME industry.  When small providers didn’t have a voice, he was instrumental in bringing HME vendors to the table to work with smaller providers, allowing them access to larger contracts and more favorable pricing.  He is a fierce advocate for HME providers and worked with AAHomecare to fight for fair reimbursement and to ensure communities everywhere maintained access to critical in-home care services.  Jim has served as a mentor, sounding board, and advisor for HME professionals throughout the HME industry. 

    Jim spent most of his VGM career as General Counsel.  This background gave him a different viewpoint than others in the industry.  In the earlier years of our industry, it led him to raise the flag when regulatory or legislative issues arose which would impact HME providers, vendors, and manufacturers.  His probing was a catalyst for providers to begin asking questions, prompting then to become active in the regulatory and legislative sectors.  

    When accreditation became a mandatory requirement for HME providers, Mr. Walsh recognized providers need for a streamlined and modern approach to their accreditation process which wasn’t present in the existing offerings.  To that end, Jim is a co-founder of Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA) and still sits on the board of directors.  

    Jim excelled at bringing people together when our industry needed to lean on each other during struggles and when we celebrated our triumphs.  His community mindedness carried over to his team at VGM and their members and he is always looking out for others best interests.  Please help ensure Jim’s legacy in the HME industry is memorialized by honoring him with this award.   

    Jim retired from day-to-day duties at VGM at the end of 2021, but he remains chairman of the VGM board of directors and he continues to impact the industry. He is highly respected and known as a huge supporter of providers, AAHomecare and Stand Up for Homecare, as well as a longtime advocate for the industry’s regulatory and legislative goals.  

    There are many deserving recipients of this award.  Jim Walsh is one of them and it would be a meaningful honor to him in his twilight, as well as a nod to all those in the industry who have been impacted positively by VGM over the years. 

  • Kam Yuricich, Executive Director of OAMES-
    For 36 years, Kam has embroiled herself in the HME industry by listening to her members and carrying their message as if it where her own.  She has poured her heart and soul into an Association where lifetime relationships have developed on both professional and personal fronts.  

    Competitive Bidding, sounded good in the press, but we all know differently.  Kam left no stone unturned in ensuring her members had the resources and knowledge to put their bids together.  We all know Ohio was unequivocally hit hard with 2 out of 10 CBAs and a Medicaid plan that was eagerly poised to reduce their oxygen rates as a percentage off the new rates.  Kam, along with a lobbying firm, and OAMES members quickly set appointments with key legislators to derail the reimbursement reductions.  Medicaid was able to push the effort all the way to JCARR where the efforts of all persevered and ODM pulled their request before JCARR rendered a ruling.  In addition to attacking on the State front, Kam and team also found discrepancies with bid “winners” related to licensure (or lack thereof), business addresses, as well as financial failures of non-winners due to scanning and costing errors, these efforts along with AAHomecare and many other stakeholders, were enough to pause the bid program for further review.

    Between Laura Willard, AAHomecare, Nick, and Andy, and the strong relationship Kam, developed with Ohio Medicaid, Ohio was able to secure American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. When this was announced, Ohio was only the second state to announce HME suppliers were included in the allocation of funds.

    Andy Wilhelm:  Kam’s leadership has been noticeably visible through our relationship with Ohio Medicaid.   Through her professional friendly demeaner OAMES(Kam) has developed a strong partnership with the department.   She is the go-to contact when the state wants to change reimbursement or medical policy.   This has led to OAMES sitting at the table with the policy team to help craft policy that benefits patients, providers, and the state.  

    Anthony LaCute:  I have always said that Kam acted like an HME business owner.  It never felt like she was part of the association, it felt like she was one of us.  Fighting battles with energy and vigor that made me think her livelihood was on the line just like ours.  I found that to be the most perplexing thing about how she operated.  Many of us have to be here because at this point we’re pretty unemployable elsewhere!  She chose to fight with us and that I think is worth celebrating.    

    John Reed:  Kam’s integrity, character, honesty, intelligence, and commitments to the industry are off the charts.  
    When you think of OAMES, you automatically think of Kam, they are synonymous.  When you think of strong Associations, Ohio is included in every conversation and that is a testament to having a great leader that anyone would follow.
    Van was a visionary and I could think of no better nominee for the Van G Miller award than Kam Yuricich.

The Van Miller Homecare Champion is announced during Medtrade at the AAH Update. This award is chosen by AAHomecare's selection committee, which includes:

  • Bill Guidetti
  • Josh Marx
  • Rose Schafhauser
  • Steve Ackerman
  • Mike Kloos
  • Tom Ryan

Past Recipients of the Van Miller Homecare Champion Award

The following members of the HME Community have made incredible contributions to the industry, we are proud to recognize their service throughout the years:

  • Stephen Ackerman (2021)
  • Karyn Estrella (2019)
  • Regina Gillespie (2018)
  • Gary Sheehan (2017)
  • Missy Cross (2016)
  • Joey Tart and Billy Tart (2015)
  • Cara Bachenheimer and Joel Mills (2014)
  • Scott Meuser and Shelly Prial (2013)
  • Alan Landauer and Van Miller (2012)
  • Joseph Lewarski and Tom Ryan (2011)