SOM’s Dr. Bridgette Jones receives Gold Award for Humanistic Care

Bridgette L. Jones, M.D., M.S.C.R., associate professor of pediatrics and assistant academic dean in the medical school’s Office of Student Affairs, is one of three UMKC health care community members recognized by the University as 2021 Gold Foundation Champions of Humanistic Care.

She will be among those from across the country honored at a virtual gala June 10, where three national honorees, including Anthony Fauci, M.D., will also be recognized.

The three winners were all nominated by the UMKC School of Medicine and its dean, Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. Joining Jones, an allergy, asthma and immunology specialist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, as award winners are Obie Austin, F.N.P., M.S.N., UMKC Student Health and Wellness director and UMKC School of Nursing alum, and Pam Bean, R.N., B.S.N., M.H.S.A., M.B.A., Truman Medical Centers/University Health vice president for practice management and ambulatory care.

Sharing vital information

Jones was commended for working to ensure humanistic care for patients, providing COVID-19 education along with other trusted messengers and sharing her voice to eliminate health inequities for those most affected by the pandemic.

Her activities included working with a medical student leader to distribute masks to medical centers and communities in need, and collaborating with a faculty colleague to launch a fund-raising campaign to support Children’s Mercy employees who had unexpected financial need during the pandemic. She also discussed COVID-19 with community teenagers to answer their questions and was the host and moderator of a panel discussion with other trusted physicians and faculty focused on COVID-19 disease and vaccination in the Black community of Kansas City.

“Over the past year the pandemic has brought so much grief, sorrow, loss and pain to so many individuals, communities and our entire world,” Jones said. “I have been blessed to have my calling and purpose as a physician and as a human being to be a helper. I am blessed and privileged to be able to use my knowledge, skills and my voice to advocate and speak up for those who are most often thought of last or not thought of at all.”

Caring and collaborating

Austin, the longtime director of student health services for the university, was praised as “one of our true heroes over the past year” for his leadership in fostering a culture of care and service. He was commended for quickly learning about COVID-19 and continuing to say up on the latest information so he could be a trusted source for the broader UMKC community and as a member of the university’s Coronavirus Planning Team.

“Providing care never takes the back seat,” Austin said. “I learned that from so many beautiful souls that poured into me as a student here at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, and it has been an honor to give back to the community educators making a difference in the Kansas City community.”

Austin, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, reflected on the past year.

“This war on COVID has tested our resiliency, fueled our compassion for others and most definitely our ability to see each other in an equal light fighting together as one people to save our humanity,” he said.

Rapid response throughout pandemic

Bean was praised for her efforts that kept Truman Medical Centers, a vital member of the UMKC Health Sciences District and a key affiliate for the School of Medicine, on top of the pandemic. Her nomination for the award said Bean “could not have been replaced in the early, uncertain days of the pandemic.” She helped design the protocols that enabled TMC to initially provide more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines, and her quick work allowed TMC to be the first medical center in the metro area to vaccinate its staff.

“Providers worked quickly, and with compassion, to match the cruel reality of patients dying without family by their bedside,” Bean said. “Patients turned to providers for emotional support, and I am proud of my team for answering that need while offering high-quality, comprehensive care.”

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is dedicated to the proposition that health care will be dramatically improved by placing the interests, values and dignity of all people at the core of teaching and practice. In addition to Fauci, this year’s national Gold Awards will honor Wayne Riley, M.D., president of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and head of the Board of Trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine, and Eric Topol, M.D., founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute.