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Telehealth Hero Awards

Telehealth Hero Awards are awarded by KUCTT each year to exceptional healthcare professionals across Kansas who support and champion telemedicine for patients/families and make significant contributions to the work of telehealth in and beyond their communities.


Dr. Susan Kriegel holding Telehealth Hero Awards
Dr. Susan Kriegel, winner of the 2019 Telehealth Hero Award

December of 2019 brought KUCTT the chance to recognize Dr. Susan Krigel, a psychologist who works to support patients with cancer and cancer-related challenges, with our 2019 Telehealth Hero Award.

Dr. Krigel, who will retire in 2020, has been delivering psycho-oncology counseling by telemedicine to help cancer patients and their caregivers at Masonic Cancer Alliance (MCA) sites across Kansas since 2012. Dr. Krigel understands each stage of going through cancer requires recalibration - one needs different coping mechanisms to make fast decisions and then to endure through the marathon of treatment. Through the MCA, and tech support and scheduling by KUCTT, these secure video telemedicine sessions are provided at no cost to the patients.

In addition to one-on-one psycho-oncology sessions, Dr. Krigel has offered many ongoing group telehealth programs to improve the mental and emotional health of Kansans with cancer. KUCTT is proud to have helped support many of the telehealth seminars and series including: Cancer Transitions, Chemobrain, Cancer Connections, and Tobacco & Smoking Cessation.

"Dr. Krigel has been a tremendous support for our smoking cessation program. I feel that by offering this through the telehealth platform, our patients have benefited from her expertise as well as having the support of participants from other locations. I feel that we would not have been able to sustain this program without the support of the telehealth platform." - Jeni Wakefield, Oncology Nurse Navigator, Olathe Health

"The patients absolutely love her! She is fair, real, honest and meets people where they are without judging. The doctors are well aware of her expertise and will now refer to her in a minute! She is so willing to share her knowledge and has always been willing to speak at our oncology symposiums or to the doctors/nurses." - Melanie Leepers, Clinical Trials Nurse, Salina Tammy Walker Cancer Center

Joy Williams, Telemedicine Senior Coordinator, along with Dedrick Hooper, Senior Systems Coordinator, and Jeremy Ko, Informatics and Specialist with KUCTT have worked closely with Dr. Krigel and were proud to present her with this honor. With her deep dedication to telepsycho-oncology and community health education/support through recurring telehealth programs, we find that Dr. Krigel more than meets the qualities for Telehealth Hero. KUCTT is honored to have presented this award to Dr. Krigel.


Roxie Anders, Shelly Brensing, and Dr. Shawna Wright holding Telehealth Hero Awards
(from left) Roxie Anders, Dr. Shawna Wright,
and Shelly Brensing

Continuing our Telehealth Hero Awards into 2018, in October of 2108 KUCTT and our associate director Dr. Shawna Wright were pleased to recognize special honorees, Shelly Brensing and Roxie Anders, from the South Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative (SCKSEC), a school cooperative servicing seven counties with fifteen school districts. KUCTT is pleased to have partnered for over 12 years with SCKSEC, beginning with just three schools in Pratt, Stafford, and Iuka. These services have grown to help address the needs of students and families in their home communities, now connecting more than fourteen school sites within SCKSEC to telemedicine services.

This kind of growth does not happen without a vision and a lot of hard work. KUCTT believes that nurses and teachers are always heroes, but cooperative school nurse and Telehealth Hero Shelly Brensing has long been a carrier of that telemedicine torch and has worked tirelessly to expand and support telemedicine at SCKSEC to the levels they have achieved. In addition to caring for her own students, Shelly is a telehealth champion, leading coordinated care of the patient over telemedicine.

Telehealth Hero Award

Dr. Susan Sharp, KUMC Child Psychiatry telemedicine provider, says about Shelly, "How valuable and admirable her commitment to her patients has been! Working with her has been such a pleasure. In clinics with her, I always knew she would be following up on leads, helping patients with support and ensuring compliance, and providing essential history and coordinating care. She contributed to my clinic in countless ways." In the spirit of education, now that Shelly is retiring, she has taught and encouraged others to continue the dedication to serving students and families by telemedicine. Shelly plans to continue to speak and advocate for telemedicine in school settings.

Telehealth Hero AwardHelping to take over the telemedicine mantle, Telehealth Hero Roxie Anders has been with SCKSEC in Behavior Support since 1983, and MANDT trainer since 1988. Roxie has been involved over many years with various positions for telemedicine at SCKSEC, from supporting patient appointments, helping to meet grant parameters, and serving as telemedicine coordinator. Coordinating telemedicine involves the ability to juggle many plates at the same time, to stay calm and focused, to communicate well with patient families and staff, and to keep the puzzle of ongoing telemedicine appointments in order. Roxie does it all well, and with a smile.

KUCTT would like to thank our SCKSEC Telehealth Heroes, along with the team of great supporting professionals and administrators at SCKSEC, in continuing our partnership to make sure students and families in south-central Kansas have access to Telemedicine services.


As part of 2017's Mental Health Awareness Week, the KU Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth (KUCTT) congratulated the Telehealth HEROs honored during the 25th Anniversary celebration. Their guidance and passion to increase access to behavioral health for Kansans are why these HEROs were honored. Behavioral health is one of KUCTT's most active and growing services. The technology has grown cheaper, faster and better, but what has remained the same is a desire to provide our best family-centered services to the most vulnerable Kansans who otherwise would not have access to care.

Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Penick, a pioneer in telehealth over the 25-year span, 

was honored on September 11, 2017. She sees patients by telemedicine in rural hospitals and nursing and assisted living facilities, creatively using the technology to communicate with elders and their families. She advocates for a strong collaborative care approach with primary care.

Picture Left to Right: Dr. Eve-Lynn Nelson, Dr. Elizabeth Penick, Joy Williams.

Dr. Eve-Lynn Nelson, Dr. Elizabeth Penick, Joy Williams.

Honorees included: Dr. Martha Barnard, a leader in child psychology telehealth services and mentor for other telepsychologists in training in the KU Medical Center behavioral pediatrics division; Drs. Sharon Cain & Susan Sharp, who continue to be KU Medical Center leaders in child psychiatry at the local, regional and national level; Dr. Enrique Chaves, a telehealth pioneer in pediatric neurology and associated behavioral concerns; Dr. Jessica Hellings, an early leader in telemedicine autism treatments; Dr. Poonam Khanna, an early child psychiatry leader focused on school-based telepsychiatry; and Dr. Kenneth Sonnenschein, an innovator in providing telepsychiatry in private-practice settings

At the Midwest Cancer Alliance Annual Conference in 2017, KUCTT presented awards to these dedicated professionals: Melanie Leepers, cancer program manager from Salina Regional Health Center; Deb White, RN, from the Great Bend Heartland Central Cancer Care Center; Vicky McGrath, Director of the Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center in Topeka; and Carol Bush, oncology nurse consultant with MCA in Wichita.

Joy Williams, Melanie Leepers, Carol Bush, Vicky McGrath accepting award
Joy Williams, Melanie Leepers, Carol Bush,
and Vicky McGrath

Deb White

Deb White

Telehealth Hero award was also presented to Sandy Kuhlman, executive director of Hospice Services in Northwest Kansas, who pioneered one of the country's first TeleHospice services with Dr. Gary Doolittle in 1998. Her team continues to break new telemedicine ground with TeleHospice services delivered to the home via iPads. Hospice Services Inc. has utilized telehealth to advance the highest quality hospice care in its sparsely populated 15,322 square mile service area, which encompasses two time zones in 16 frontier Kansas counties.

 Joy Williams, Sandy Kuhlman, and Ashley Spaulding

Joy Williams, Sandy Kuhlman, and Ashley Spaulding

Our final Telehealth Hero award of 2017 was presented to the school nurse, Windy Garrett of Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, USD500. Nurse Windy has helped hundreds of children and families connect to care by telemedicine for almost two decades, both in elementary school and now leading efforts with middle-schoolers, as well as mentoring trainees going on to school nursing careers. In addition to being a nationally recognized speaker on telemedicine and school nursing, Windy helped pioneer TeleKidcare, which allows children to be seen by healthcare specialists without having to leave school.

Picture Left to Right: Jeremy Breuggemann, Principal, Argentine Middle School; Joy Williams, KUCTT Telemedicine Coordinator; Windy Garrett, Nurse, Argentine Middle School; Dr. Eve-Lynn Nelson, KUCTT Director

Jeremy Breuggemann, Principal, Argentine Middle School; JoyWilliams, KUCTT; Windy Garrett, Nurse, Argentine MiddleSchool; Dr. Eve-Lynn Nelson, KUCTT

Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth

University of Kansas Medical Center
KU Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth
4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Suite 1160
Mail Stop 7001
Fairway, KS  66205
Fax: 913-588-2457
Phone: 913-588-2226