Bubbling Up

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Missouri Foundation for Health has named Dr. Nick Holekamp, vice president and chief medical officer at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, as the 2019 Dr. Corinne Walentik Leadership in Health Award honoree. For nearly 20 years, Holekamp has ensured that Ranken Jordan patients have the best chance for a full recovery by combining the care and technology of a hospital setting with a child-centered, family-friendly environment that encourages play, rehabilitation, and social integration. Throughout his career he has acted as a tireless advocate for medically complex children who often also struggle with financial and social issues. He will be recognized on December 18 at the Foundation’s annual dinner.

The Walentik award was created to honor the late Dr. Walentik’s commitment to serving vulnerable groups, especially children. Each year the award is presented to a health leader in Missouri who exemplifies the passion, dedication, and energy that she brought to her work. Holekamp will receive a $2,500 individual award and, per his direction, $25,000 will go to Ranken Jordan.

Holekamp began his career at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, where he saw firsthand the impact that social determinants of health can have on well-being. Following that, he worked for nine years with children at the Mercy Hospital JFK Clinic, which solely treats those who are uninsured or underinsured and fall within federal poverty guidelines.

In 2000, Holekamp joined Ranken Jordan, which was then a pediatric nursing home with only a few beds. Under his leadership the organization has grown into the only licensed, specialized pediatric hospital in Missouri and now serves children from birth to age 21 that have complex medical conditions that could include either injury or illness, bridging the gap between traditional hospital treatment and home. In 2018, he oversaw a $35 million, 75,000 square-foot expansion that doubled its capacity to 60 beds. He continues to lead initiatives that ensure collaborative, high-quality, child-centered care based on the successful Care Beyond the Bedside model.

“It’s a real honor to receive an award named after Dr. Corinne Walentik,” said Holekamp. “She had a reputation for being extremely rigorous and diligent in doing absolutely everything to the best of her ability for her patients and families. It wasn’t about any attention or celebrity. She was just hard working in a very difficult field.”

Holekamp joins an impressive list of Walentik Leadership in Health honorees, including Dr. Katie Plax, Sister Anne Francioni, Dr. Jason Purnell, DiAnne Mueller, and Brittany “Tru” Kellman. “I can’t imagine a better addition to this inspirational group of leaders than Dr. Holekamp,” said MFH President and CEO Bob Hughes. “The work that Ranken Jordan is doing is unlike any other work in the state, and it is making a huge difference to Missouri families. Ensuring that children have resources like Ranken to provide crucial, affordable care is parallel to the work that Corinne did for so many years. We are thrilled to recognize Dr. Holekamp for his commitment to healthier communities.”

“On a wall in my office in letters 2-feet tall I have a poster with the word ‘YES’ on it,” said Holekamp. “People come to me seeing how we can do better by a child in a difficult circumstance, to somehow give them a better option. My answer is YES. How can we get it done?”