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Staff Updates

Craig Hospital congratulates Daniel P. Lammertse, MD on receiving the ASIA Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Lammertse

Your Craig Hospital family is exceptionally proud of your lifetime of distinguished service to people with spinal cord injury and their families, and in the field of research. We are grateful to have been able to work side by side with you for more than 31 years and to know so well your amazing wisdom, intelligence, and compassion. You truly are one of the most remarkable individuals we have ever known. You are leaving a legacy with your colleagues and friends at Craig, and around the world, that will remain always.

  • Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Board of Directors, 2011-present
  • Medical Director, Craig Hospital, 1984-2008 / Medical Director of Research, 2008-present
  • Project Director, Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Cord Injury System, 1997-present
  • Chair, NIDRR SCI Model Systems Project Directors Committee, 2000-2006
  • ASIA Board of Directors, 1991-2003 / ASIA President, 2001-2003
  • Chair, NIDRR SCI Model Systems Project Directors Committee, 2000-2006
  • International Spinal Cord Society Sir Ludwig Guttmann Memorial Lecturer, 2011
  • International Spinal Cord Society Best Paper Presentation Award, 2009
  • Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals Donald Munro Memorial Lecturer, 2010
  • American Paraplegia Society Excellence Award, 2008
  • American Spinal Injury Association Best Paper Award, 2008

Staff awards

Gale Whiteneck, PhD, FACRM, director of research, was awarded the Edward Lowman Award for a career that reflects an energetic promotion of the spirit of inter-disciplinary rehabilitation.

Cynthia Braden, MA, CCC-SLP, CPHQ, FACRM, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine for participation in the TBI Special Interest Group and Cognitive Rehabilitation Task Force.

Cynthia Harrison-Felix, PhD, was elected Secretary of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Board of Governors.

Gale Whiteneck, PhD Cynthia Braden, MA Cynthia Harrison-Felix, PhD

Six nurses win Magnet awards

A celebration was held in early January to recognize nurses who earned Magnet awards in 2011. Fifty nurses were nominated and six were selected in categories that represent Craig’s nursing professional practice model and Magnet standards. Congratulations to the following nurses:

  • Melanie Lindley, RN, BSN—Quality of Care
  • Mary Vidmar, RN, BSN, CRRN—Transformational Leadership
  • Regie Thompson, RN, BSN, MS, CNRN—Community Involvement
  • Sarah Schwenk, RN, BSN—Education: Nurses as Teachers
  • Jim Ripple, RN, CRRN—Evidence Based Practice/New Knowledge
  • Holly Black, RN, BSN, CRRN—Shared Governance and Interdisciplinary Relationships

Pat Goley retires

After nearly 41 years as the laboratory liaison and infectious disease director, Pat Goley decided to hang up her Craig cleats, leave her fellow “basement dwellers,” and spend more time reading, golfing, and traveling.

Pat — a.k.a. phlebotomist, “vampire lady,” “blood angel” (names given to her by patients) — remembers all the various blood-related Halloween costumes she has worn over the years. She remembers one time when Harry Hahn, MD asked her to welcome a newly arriving patient in her vampire costume. One year she dressed as a syringe.

Pat is a legend at Craig. She always has had a smile, a kind word, and genuine caring for patients and families. Staff remember Pat as a “sports nut” who loves the NFL, Major League Baseball, and NCAA March Madness. Pat also cared for people beyond Craig’s walls. She volunteered for 20 years in the Winter Park National Sports Center for the Disabled in the NSCD children’s program and the “three-track” amputee program.

Originally from Madison, Ind., Pat received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Marion College, and found her way to Denver, originally to Rose Medical Center, then to the Craig-Swedish laboratory program 1971. She was hired by Eleanor Sinton, MD, at Swedish Medical Center to serve Craig. Word has it Dr. Sinton introduced her to Dr. Hahn, saying, “Pat will solve all your problems.” The rest is history: She did.

At a party was held in Craig’s cafeteria on January 18 to honor Pat and her lifetime of service. She will continue to be connected to the Craig family by volunteering in the gift shop and helping with hallway sales and the annual holiday buffet. Best wishes to you, Pat!

Rosie Lozano arrives

Rosa “Rosie” Lozano’s background is in microbiology, and she has served as an infection preventionist for nearly five years. Rosie has worked in acute care hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, and rehab hospitals in Austin, Houston, and Denver. She says she loves music and the Texas Longhorns.

“I have already met so many of you and want to thank you for being so welcoming,” Rosie says. “I’m excited to work with everyone at Craig.”

Tom Carr to join Craig as therapeutic recreation director

Tom Carr, CTRS, has accepted the position of director of therapeutic recreation and will arrive later this spring. Tom currently serves as the director of athletics and the director of the U.S. Paralympic New England regional program at Northeast Passage, a privately funded program of the University of New Hampshire offering recreational opportunities to individuals with disabilities. His experience also includes his work as coordinator of adaptive skiing at Mount Snow Resort, therapeutic recreation instructor at the University of New Hampshire, and member of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness for the State of New Hampshire. Many thanks to Bert Menardi for providing leadership and stability to the therapeutic recreation department, serving as interim director over this past year.

Welcome, Dr. Scelza

The CNS Medical Group, PC of Craig Hospital is pleased to announce the addition of William “Bill” Scelza, MD, to the CNS staff. Dr. Scelza completed his medical training at Case Western University in 1998. He completed residency training in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan followed by a fellowship in spinal cord injury medicine at the Kessler Institute in 2002-03. Most recently, Dr. Scelza served as director of the spinal cord injury program at Carolinas Rehabilitation in Charlotte, N.C. He brings to Craig a wealth of spinal cord injury experience, having lived with paraplegia since 1988. He is active with his family, recreation, and disability advocacy. Welcome to Colorado, Dr. Scelza!

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Craig grad Carl Hall, ’10, and his family from Wichita, Kan., were featured in ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on April 17. A team of Craig nurses and therapists spent a week with the Halls and ABC in February as the show was being filmed. Here, Julie Negron shares reflections of her experience.

“Extreme Perspective Makeover” by Julie Negron, RN, BSN, CRRN In thinking about my experience with Extreme Makeover Home Edition, I can summarize it as enlightening.

Of course it was really cool to be part of a TV show, to meet baseball stars, and to get to see an insider’s view of TV production, but it was so much more than that. I was honored that Carl asked me to care for him during the production and said, “I trust you with my life.” Those are pretty powerful words. How privileged are we that someone would place that kind of trust in us? Did it add stress to the trip? Yes. Did I exhale a huge sigh of relief when we landed safely in Kansas and arrived back in Wichita? Yes. But would I do it again? Yes! I am so grateful for the experience. To help enable a patient and his family to travel and to have input into the design of the house was pretty amazing. Coordinating supplies, medications, and equipment for the “vacation” was much more involved than I expected it to be, but I now have a much more realistic idea of life beyond Craig.

And though I now have a better understanding of the difficulties of transitioning home, I also know that travel is possible and that transferring a person with quadriplegia onto a plane is not as scary as it seems. I also know that my job is much easier with the help of other nurse, techs, and physical and occupational therapists!

One of the producers e-mailed us after the shoot in Orlando and her words really touched me. She said, “I know it’s your job to take care of people. But I also know you can do your job — or you can love your job. You all clearly love your jobs and, more importantly, you genuinely care for the entire Hall family. When I met you at the airport, I knew calling you ‘the nurses’ just wasn’t right. I jokingly said ‘Carl’s Angels,’ not really thinking much about it. But you really were angels. I could not have done my job without you all.”

I hope we all become “angels” of the families we care for. I hope that we can provide the strength, support, education, and love they need to see life beyond their injury. In the end, that’s all you need, big new fancy house or not.

Staff earn national accolades

Tom Balazy, MD, was promoted from assistant clinical professor to associate clinical professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver in March 2011.

Lester Butt, PhD, assumed the vice-presidency/incoming presidency of the American Board of Rehabilitation Psychology in November 2010.

Gale Whiteneck, PhD, served on the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (in National Institutes of Health) Advisory Board in December 2010 in Rockville, Md.

Cindy Harrison-Felix, PhD, headed the National Data and Statistical Center (NDSC)-led training for TBI Model Systems in Washington, D.C., in December 2010.

Alan Weintraub, MD, won the national Innovative Clinician Award presented by the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) in September 2010.

Toby Huston, PhD, received the Psychology Section Clinical Performance Award of the Academy of SCI Professionals.

Toby Huston, PhD, and Diane Reinhard, RN, are new board members for their respective Boards of the Academy of SCI Professionals.

Dr. Balazy
Tom Balazy, MD Lester Butt, PhD Gale Whiteneck, PhD Cindy Harrison-Felix, PhD
Alan Weintraub, MD, Toby Huston, PhD Diane Reinhard, RN

Dr. Gerber joins research team

Craig Hospital’s research department is pleased to announce the addition of Don Gerber, PsyD, as a principal research investigator. Dr. Gerber, who has been at Craig for 33 years as a clinician, brings a great deal of clinical neuropsychological rehabilitation experience with both SCI and TBI in acute critical care, rehab, long-term community reintegration, and sports concussions to the research team. Over the course of his career, Dr. Gerber has authored research articles on topics ranging from defining post-concussion syndrome to emerging MRI techniques for TBI. His new focus will be on developing Craig’s clinical research program.

Barb Page to retire

Barb PageBarb Page is planning to retire on April 15, “but will periodically be involved in small ways through July and will probably find ways to help as a volunteer for longer than they want me,” she chides. Barb came to know Craig initially because of volunteer work through the Junior League of Denver and Kappa Kappa Gamma. When her son’s friend became a patient at Craig, she spent countless hours with him. She soon became a Board member and met grads like Steve Peters who further inspired her. “This place grabbed my heart and never let go.” Then, assuming there was a full staff, she volunteered to help with the capital campaign for the Family Housing Building in 1999—and finding out she was the staff, the one and only staff, didn’t deter her. She quickly formed a team and was named director of development when her Board term expired. One of her favorite memories was rejoicing with the news of the $1 million gift from Dana Raimondi which sparked the successful campaign. She also recalls fondly the craziness of Craig during Survivor Week and Halloween. “Denny O’Malley’s costumes absolutely left us in hysterical laughter.” The stories she gathered during the 100-year anniversary celebration were funny, sad, and uplifting. Now she is looking forward to spending more time with her six grandchildren.

Barb, we wish you the very best and know you will continue to provide us with humor, wit, and inspiration.

Welcome, Jessica Nurack

Jessica NurakJessica Nurack joined the Craig Hospital Foundation staff as a development officer in December 2010, but was first introduced to Craig Hospital as a child when her mother was rehabilitated at Craig after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Currently, Jessica is involved with seeking major gifts for the Foundation as well as coordinating Craig’s young philanthropist group. Before joining Craig’s team, Jessica held administrative and development positions for a number of non-profit organizations, including Iowans for Social & Economic Development (ISED), the Education Development Center (EDC), and the StEPP Foundation. Jessica earned her master’s degree in social and developmental psychology from Brandeis University in 2006. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and also serves on the Member Relations Committee for YNPN Denver.

We have great volunteers

Volunteers are vital to our work at Craig. They bring true-to-life experience to share with patients. In real time, they are there to say that it is alright, and to demonstrate to patients that it is possible not only to survive this challenge they’ve been faced with, but that the outcome can be a full and wonderful life.

We’re grateful for all 160 of our volunteers. Meet three of them here in Movin’ On!

Christina Ripp
Christina played a vital role in the U.S. gold-medal women’s wheelchair basketball victory over Germany in July 2010. She also finished first in the wheelchair division of the 2010 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon last October in Minneapolis, Minn. Congratulations!

Michael LadenMichael Laden
A 1990 Craig grad turned volunteer extraordinare, Michael vacationed last fall in Egypt and sent us this fantastic photo. Thanks, Michael, and we’re glad you’re back after your great trip.

Peter Pauwels
Peter recently received the Hal O’Leary Leadership Award. He has 30 years of experience designing, creating, and providing adaptive fishing equipment and watercrafts at minimal cost for individuals with disabilities. He also promotes participation by offering adaptive fishing opportunities throughout the Rocky Mountains. He recently went to Wichita, Kan., to present a chin-controlled fishing pole to Craig grad Carl Hall as part of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition. For more info, see

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Craig Hospital’s longtime friend and volunteer, Jim Richards, on January 6. Throughout his more than 30-year tenure Jim volunteered as a board member, served holiday meals to patients and staff, supported fundraising events, and most recently gave the Monday morning tours to new outpatients. In 2004, Jim was awarded Denver’s Channel 7 Everyday Hero Award by Mitch Jelniker, news anchor. Even if folks around Craig did not know Jim by name, they knew him as the older gentleman with the white hair and big smile who was always singing the praises of each department as he introduced the new patient to them. Jim’s advocacy and passion for Craig are unmatched. We will miss him. Best to his family.

Congrats to Craig pharmacists

AdrienneHeather Cabiness Smith, PharmD, became a Board Certified Pharmaco-therapy Specialist, and Adrienne Mackzum, PharmD, BCPS, earned her second Board Certification in Psychiatric Pharmacy. Board certification is a distinction achieved by Heather Smithfewer than three percent of the pharmacists in the United States, according to Amy M. Goldstein, RPh, MS, Craig’s director of pharmacy. It is consistent with evolution of the role of the pharmacist from a solely dispensing function to one with significant direct patient care responsibilities. Board certification also supports Craig’s goal of incorporating specialty-trained pharmacists as part of the collaborative care team. The benefit of pharmacist involvement in inpatient and outpatient clinical care has been well documented. Involvement of a clinical pharmacist in inpatient care has been shown to reduce morbidity, mortality, and health care expenditures.

Terry Chase earns certification as Gestalt-Equine Therapist

Terry ChaseTerry Chase, MA, ND, RN, coordinator of patient and family education at Craig, has completed training and certification through Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies. Terry is now a certified Gestalt-Equine Therapist. Patients with spinal cord injury who are almost ready to be discharged from Craig, and who are interested in trying something new, now have the opportunity to interact with horses. This new equine program is an interdisciplinary education outing that pairs individual patients with a horse handler and therapist as an additional way to address personal issues and attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed for life after rehabilitation. Congratulations, Terry!

Dr. Lammertse receives highest SCI honor

Dan Lammertse, MD, has been selected to present the 2010 Donald Munro Lectureship at the September meeting of the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals. This is the highest honor given at this national annual SCI scientific conference. His lecture is titled “The Search for Cure in the Age of Information.”

Dr. Lammertse is the medical director of research at Craig, a position he has held since 2008. Dr. Lammertse came to Craig Hospital in 1981 and served as medical director of Craig from 1984 to 2008. He received his medical degree and specialty training in rehabilitation medicine at Ohio State University. He is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and has sub-specialty certification in spinal cord injury.

Dr. Lammertse has authored numerous chapters and scientific articles on topics in spinal cord injury and is internationally recognized as an expert in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. He was the project director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Cord Injury System and served as chair of the NIDRR SCI Model Systems Project Directors Committee from 2000 to 2006. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Spinal Injury Association from 1991 to 2003, as president from 2001 to 2003. He is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine and is a member of the Spinal Cord Injury Medicine Examination Committee of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Lammertse is associate clinical professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Colorado.

The Mark P. Cilo Room and Lecture

This summer, Craig staff and Dr. Cilo’s family honored our beloved departed physician and friend with the naming of the 2-West Conference Room, where he spent much time teaching and leading family conferences. A plaque is now there in his name. We also instituted the annual Mark P. Cilo Lecture in his honor. Pictured here are (from left) Dr. Cilo’s sons Jason Haddock and Hy Lewis; his wife Janie Lewis; Alan Weintraub, MD; and Judy Lazar, CNS manager.

Karen Sims inducted into Arkansas Softball Hall of Fame

Question: Which speech/language pathologist at Craig is also a famous women’s softball player?

Karen Sims, MA, CCC-SP, returned to Little Rock on July 2 to become the youngest inductee to date into the Arkansas Women’s Softball Hall of Fame. Karen started playing at the age of 5, pitched for six Arkansas state championship teams, pitched for the USSSA World Championship team in 1982, and was selected for the USSSA All-World Team 1982. Karen is famous for pitching multiple no-hitters and a perfect game in slow pitch softball. She has been playing ever since, and currently plays on two Denver teams, including Craig Hospital’s co-ed “Crazy Stix” team.

Over the years Karen has received congratulatory letters from President Ronald Reagan, Arkansas Governor Frank White, and others. Since the induction, she has received letters from the mayor of her home town, the Arkansas governor, and even the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club because they heard she is a big fan!

Food service director goes two and one in local drag races

Wes Johnson, Craig’s food service director since 1988, took second place on May 29 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., then came back to win his class on June 26. Wes owns two nostalgic front engine dragsters powered by fuel injected 1953 Mercury engines. He is pictured here in the car in the foreground which runs on ethanol (E85), while his son Steven is in his other dragster which runs on methanol. Wes believes he is the first drag racer in the country running a competitive drag car with these engines on ethanol.

Wes has been drag racing at Bandimere Raceway since the mid ’60s. For Wes, the answer to “how I spend my Craig paychecks” is “priceless.”

The photo is of Wes racing against his son Steven last month at Bandimere almost at the starting line getting ready for a qualifying run in the first round of eliminations. Steven left .02 seconds before his light turned green, and so Wes was automatically the winner of that pairing. Wes lost in the finals by .0032 seconds over a quarter of a mile. Wes says, “Thank you, Frank Craig, for making this possible!”

Three dozen to hike for Team Craig in 25th annual Pikes Peak Challenge

Thirty-six hikers signed up for Team Craig and trained to ascend 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak to raise money for the Brain Injury Association of Colorado and Think First on September 11. Way to go, Team Craig!

Occupational therapist visits Ukraine

In August, Angela Dillbeck, OTR, traveled to Artemivsk, Ukraine, with three other occupational therapists to complete community development projects. All alumni of Creighton University, the OTs facilitated a group of occupational therapy students in donating toys to area orphanages and kindergartens for disabled children, and renovating a space for a local support club for disabled children and their families to meet.

Xio Acosta wins Daisy Award

Xio and Trish - Daisy AwardXio Acosta, RN,of Craig's outpatient clinic is this year’s DAISY Award recipient. DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System, and the award is a nationwide program in honor of J. Patrick Barnes. “Whenever I need anything, I know I can count of Xio to help,” says Craig grad Trish Downing, ’00, Denver, Colo. “She is great at supporting patients not only physically, but mentally and emotionally through tough times. I cannot think of another nurse who has given me more of her time and energy than Xio. She is a true example of a caring individual who is dedicated to the welfare of her patients.” Congratulations, Xio, on this well-deserved honor.

Tom BalazyMedical director Tom Balazy, MD, named “Top Doc”

Tom Balazy, MD, Craig