College of Public Health and Health Professions employees Shelley Heaton, Ph.D., Kevin Jackson, Jessica McLane and Keri Merchant have been named UF Superior Accomplishment award winners in the Health Science Center division. They will be honored at an awards banquet on March 27.
The award program recognizes employees who contribute outstanding service, efficiency and/or economy to the university, or play a role in the quality of life provided to students and employees. Health Science Center division winners are submitted as nominees to compete for the university-level Superior Accomplishment Awards.
Shelley Heaton, Ph.D., is a clinical associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology and clinic director of UF Health – Psychology Specialties. She is responsible for ensuring high quality patient care and business operations, including staffing, scheduling, billing, documentation and coordination of care with other disciplines. Under her leadership, the practice experienced a 29% growth in revenue in the last fiscal year and is projected to have another record-breaking year in 2020.
During the past year, Heaton led the effort to transition billing operations from a legacy system to EPIC, which is used by the greater UF Health community. The migration required weekly phone calls with up to 19 individuals representing more than seven different project teams.
“This was like coordinating a United Nations event as taskforce members used terms that were not only foreign to us, but often unfamiliar to each other,” a colleague wrote. “Yet, she had to assure every aspect of this process would roll out smoothly, from establishing the billing locations and play books, to educating billing and revenue about our routine CPT codes for diagnosis and billing, to obtaining and setting up new credit card machines, all the while educating over 100 providers, including faculty, staff and trainees regarding these new processes.”
Heaton ensured that the transition was on time and seamless for both providers and patients, co-workers said.
“Dr. Heaton has shown distinctive leadership in modernizing our practice to the benefit of patients, staff, students in practica, faculty and the college.”
Kevin Jackson, the college’s event planner, manages a number of events, including the graduating student recognition ceremony, alumni reunion, the PHHP Family Picnic, HPNP Field Day, retreats, luncheons, holiday celebrations and more.
“He constantly strives for each event to outshine the last with the goal that faculty, staff and students are all represented,” a colleague wrote. “His attention to detail and impeccable execution far exceed the expectations of everyone involved.”
Jackson has also made significant contributions to the college’s Staff Council, a group he chairs. Under his leadership, the council created four staff sub-committees to broaden opportunities for staff participation in college governance, and sought ways to recognize and encourage staff development, including the creation of the Staff Enhancement Opportunity program. The program aims to provide staff with the opportunity to seek professional development, certifications or conference experience relevant to their positions by offering financial support to offset travel costs and fees. Jackson also led the creation of the first PHHP Staff Retreat, which has become an annual event.
“Kevin’s leadership in the PHHP Staff Council represents an effort far and above the regular duties that his position requires,” a nominator wrote. “He not only took on these additional responsibilities with enthusiasm, but excelled and made a substantial impact on the staff of PHHP.”
Jessica McLane is a human resources generalist II in the dean’s office whose tasks include recruiting, processing hires, compliance tracking and other HR transactions in PeopleSoft for the dean’s office and across the college. She also provides direct support to four of the eight departments in the college. Co-workers praised McLane as a tremendous source of knowledge in all things HR. To do this, McLane is continually educating herself through classes, trainings and webinars. But if she doesn’t know an answer to a question, co-workers said, she will undoubtedly find out.
“There have been many instances where I have been unable to find the information needed to complete an HR function and she has always gone out of her way to help me,” a nominator wrote. “If I find out an answer to a question we were discussing, she always expresses interest in also knowing so she can be that much more helpful to other departments in the future.”
Beyond her excellent customer service, colleagues say McLane truly cares about her fellow employees and consistently offers words of encouragement and support. The effect can be felt collegewide.
“She seems to know exactly when I need to hear these things, and it helps me to keep pushing through and to work hard to provide the level of excellence that our faculty and staff deserve,” a colleague wrote. “It also reminds me to be more encouraging to my own staff and coworkers, which has immense effects on the overall morale and productivity of my department and the college as a whole.”
Keri Merchant joined the department of clinical and health psychology in April as the practice manager and quickly made a positive impact on clinic operations, co-workers said. In her role, Merchant manages the strategic, long-term and day-to-day business, patient customer service, and clinic operations, including oversight of clinic staff, scheduling, billing and operational goals and initiatives.
In her first few months on the job, Merchant formed a taskforce to enhance features of the referral queue, eliminated the volume of paper forms being sent to patients, and increased staff training.
“She embraced this position with the vigor of someone highly invested in the quality and performance of our clinical practice,” a colleague wrote. “From the onset, she effectively integrated into the clinic staff team, establishing a warm and collaborative (yet ambitious) leadership style.”
Merchant played an integral role in the UF Health – Psychology Specialties’ transition to the EPIC billing system, which needed to be completed by July 1. She jumped in immediately to complete key tasks that kept the transition on schedule and capitalized on her many years of experience in clinical operations to navigate obstacles along the way.
“Her honed skills, unflappable nature, stellar leadership and investment in our collective success ensured successful launch and execution of each important practice advancement,” a nominator wrote.