Unsung Heroes

The Virginia Health Care Foundation Honors Health Care Innovators at
Heroes in Health Care Celebration


Richmond, Virginia – The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) held its Heroes in Health Care event on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, at the Omni Richmond Hotel.  The awards ceremony recognizes outstanding efforts by volunteers, employees, and donors, from all areas of the state, for their work to help uninsured Virginians obtain essential health care and medicines. Governor Ralph Northam, Senators Roslyn Dance and Emmett Hanger, Jr., and more than 225 others will help VHCF celebrate the remarkable achievements of these individuals and organizations. Governor Northam will present the Excellence in Enrollment Award to eleven employees of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and Department of Social Services for their roles in developing and implementing “fast track” and automated processes to expedite and maximize Medicaid enrollment.   Thanks to the unprecedented collaboration of this interagency team, nearly 75% of those estimated to be newly eligible for Medicaid have been enrolled in the six months since new eligibility criteria became effective. Five Unsung Hero Awards will be presented to those who actions to increase access to health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians have been extraordinary.  Two of this year’s Unsung Heroes are from Richmond.  Endocrinologist Dr. Maria J. Iuorno will receive the Unsung Hero Physician Award for traveling to Tappahannock each month for four years to provide treatment and care to 300 patients at Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic who have complex diabetes.

Susan Smith, a retired medical bookkeeper and nurse, will receive the Unsung Hero Volunteer Award for the 1,700+ hours she has devoted to helping clients at Senior Connections obtain needed prescription medicines at a cost they can afford.  Each winner will receive a $2,000 check from the Virginia Association of Health Plans for the organizations they are serving.

Mrs. Juliet Tinsley will receive the You “Rx”ceptional Award posthumously.  For 19 years, Mrs. Tinsley led the evolution and expanded the utilization of The Pharmacy Connection, VHCF’s proprietary software which expedites access to free prescription medicines from the brand name drug companies’ Patient Assistance Programs.  Her creativity and leadership amidst ever-changing technology and other challenges ensured hundreds of thousands of uninsured individuals in Virginia and 15 other states have access to the medicines they need.  Her husband and daughters will receive the award on her behalf.

The Community Health Center of the New River Valley will receive the Health Safety Net Innovation Award for its commitment to providing thoughtfully integrated medical, dental, and mental health services.  This integrated approach to health care has been especially beneficial to the Center’s diabetic patients – dramatically increasing the percentage of diabetic patients who have now controlled their diabetes.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation is a non-profit public/private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. The Foundation was initiated by the General Assembly and its Joint Commission on Health Care in 1992. Since its inception, it has funded 415 community-based projects across the Commonwealth, and its programs and partnerships have touched the lives of more than 700,000 uninsured Virginians.

For more information about VHCF and its programs, visit www.vhcf.org or call (804) 828-5804.

Heroes in Health Care is made possible through the generosity of its sponsors.

Last Updated on February 9, 2023