2021 Excellence Awards recognize outstanding faculty, staff and teams


This year’s Excellence Awards honor individuals and teams whose work includes the mental health of patients, the care of violently injured youth and young adults beyond the hospital, and contributions in research, mentoring and diversity.

The annual awards recognize the outstanding contributions of faculty, staff and teams across UC Davis School of Medicine, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and UC Davis Health. Awardees are recognized for their extraordinary achievements and dedication to excellence in education, patient care, research and transformative community partnerships.

“We congratulate and thank this year’s awardees for their remarkable vision and leadership,” said Susan Murin, School of Medicine interim dean. “These inspiring leaders are making an incredibly positive impact within UC Davis Health and the communities we serve.”

Award recipients are recognized among faculty, staff and interdisciplinary teams at UC Davis Health. The awards also provide an opportunity to highlight the exceptional contributions of talented staff throughout the health system whose work is vital to advancing our missions.

“We are delighted to recognize these mission-driven faculty, staff and teams,” added School of Nursing Dean Stephen Cavanagh. “Their dedication and commitment to excellence is an inspiration.”

Deans' Award for Excellence in Diversity
Verónica Martínez-Cerdeño

Deans' Award for Excellence in Clinical Care and Research
Stuart Cohen

Deans' Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Kent Leach

Vice Chancellor and Deans’ Staff Assembly Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Christine Feller

Karen Eilers Award for Staff Excellence
Lisa Pastore-Anderson

Deans' Award for Excellence in Team Inclusion

Behavioral Escalation Support Team (BEST) – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Sharon Demeter and Jessica Vetter were recognized for developing and launching the BEST program.

BEST is a rapid response team that responds immediately to help support individuals experiencing a behavioral crisis in the hospital. The team is composed of a diverse group of clinical staff, including psychiatric nurse practitioners, lift team supervisors and mental health workers. The BEST team is grounded in the principles of recovery oriented, trauma informed, person centered care of the individual experiencing a temporary loss of behavioral control or an overwhelming emotional state.

Following a successful trial program from 2020 to 2021, UC Davis Health expanded BEST to increase access to this innovative care delivery model. To date, more than 120 discrete patients have been served by the BEST team. The comprehensive multidisciplinary team rapidly assesses the situation and facilitates any necessary clinical services to help address the patient’s needs (e.g., substance use navigators, social services support, rapid response, pharmacy or medical consultants) in a culturally sensitive and compassionate manner.

Deans' Team Award for Excellence
There are two 2021 winners in this category:

The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program  Under the leadership of Stephanie Mateev, health sciences clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics, the UC Davis Health ECMO Program won a Platinum Award for Excellence from the International Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). Only the top 3% of ECMO programs in the world receive this award.

Under Mateev’s oversight, the program significantly scaled up its capabilities and has been a model for interdisciplinary collaboration between Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) physicians and nurses, CTICU physicians and nurses, cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiothoracic anesthesiologists, anticoagulation pharmacists, lift teams and physical therapists.

ECMO team members include Laura Kenny, Samuel Daddow, Gary Raff, Hugh Black, Sabrina Evans, Michelle Foster and Stuart Coons. Amidst the COVID pandemic during the last two years, the ECMO program smoothly transitioned ECMO care for adults from the PICU service to the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit Service. The program also accommodated hundreds of new requests for ECMO services from outside institutions and successfully provided this advanced technology to many dozens of critically ill COVID patients.

Wraparound ProjectUnder the leadership of Program Director Ian Brown, assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, the UC Davis Health Wraparound Program extends the care of violently injured youth and young adults beyond the hospital to support long-term healing and recovery while helping patients find hope and purpose. The program is free to patients between the ages of 13-26 years who were injured by violence.

The Wraparound team includes Christy Adams, Chevist Johnson and Esmeralda Huerta. The program has helped violently injured young people recover and prevent reoccurrence of violent injuries through ongoing support, mentorship and connections to community resources. The team also educates UC Davis Health staff, faculty, trainees and medical students to recognize implicit bias toward patients injured by violence, particularly boys and young men of color.

Originally offered to injured youth from the Oak Park neighborhood, the program’s success has resulted in $1 million in Board of State and Community Corrections funding, allowing it to expand to six other neighborhoods in Sacramento that also experience high rates of community violence.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s extraordinary awardees whose innovative spirit and dedication are improving patients’ lives and helping UC Davis Health deliver tomorrow’s health care today,” said David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health and Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences.