2015 Salute! to Healthcare

The Greater Detroit Area Health Council [GDAHC] honored three visionary health care executives, a behavioral health organization, and an entrepreneur during its annual dinner awards ceremony. WJBK-FOX 2 Detroit's Roop Raj was the emcee during the November 5, 2015 event at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. The 2015 GDAHC Salute! to Healthcare was presented by Beaumont Health.

The Salute to Healthcare offers the platform to:

  • Network with the most impressive, powerful, diverse group of health care executives and business leaders;
  • Celebrate individuals and organizations that have transformed health care (see honoress below); and
  • Learn about GDAHC's health and well-being programs and support its mission.

The visionary executives from Beaumont, Botsford and Oakwood, who joined with their respective board of directors to form Beaumont Health, received the GDAHC Symond R. Gottlieb Award at the 2015 GDAHC Salute! to Healthcare. In honor and memory of Sy Gottlieb, a former GDAHC executive director, this award is presented to individuals who have dedicated their work to significantly improving the quality, access and delivery of health care.

The 2015 Sy Gottlieb honorees were:

Brian Connolly recently retired as the Oakwood Healthcare President and CEO following the merger of Beaumont, Botsford and Oakwood. He was the Chief Transition Executive during the merger. Connolly has numerous contributions to health care in the southeast Michigan region and to the health care delivery system in America. He had the vision and foresight for Oakwood to partner with Beaumont and Botsford in a merger that will impact the health and wellbeing of southeast Michigan for decades to come. Connolly is a member of the GDAHC Board Executive Committee and a past Board Chair, advocating for its programs to increase access to care, improve the quality of care and manage the cost of care.

Paul LaCasse, D.O., was the former President and CEO of Botsford Health Care prior to the merger. He is currently Executive Vice President of Post-Acute Division at the new Beaumont Health. His contributions to health care in our region are extensive, most notably increasing access to quality care for families in Oakland and Wayne counties. LaCasse had the far-reaching vision that crafting a merger with Beaumont and Oakwood will further improve care and increase access to care while managing the cost of care. As a GDAHC Board member, his insights and advocacy are instrumental to the regional health collaborative.

Gene Michalski was the President and CEO of Beaumont Health System prior to the merger and became the first President and CEO of the new organization, Beaumont Health. He retired in June 2015. Michalski's unwavering leadership to ensure Beaumont Health System provided the best quality care in the region is undeniable, while possessing the vision to understand that even a large health system will be more viable and stronger with local partners, Botsford and Oakwood. He is a former GDAHC Board Member, including a former member of the Executive Committee, who continues to advocate for its programs.

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (DWMHA) received the GDAHC Eagle Visionary Leadership Award. This award honors the contributions and achievements of an organization in southeast Michigan that has made steady progress in advancing a health care issue of quality, access or cost.

Tom Watkins, president and CEO of DWMHA, accepted the Eagle Visionary Leadership Award on behalf of the organization at the ceremony. A former department of Wayne County government, DWMHA became an independent authority two years ago. Since 2013, DWMHA has integrated substance use disorder programs into its organization that also oversees services for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. It has collaborated with providers to increase access to behavioral health services in Wayne County, and leads an educational campaign to de-stigmatize mental health.

Cassie Sobelton was the first honoree to receive the GDAHC Breakthrough Award. The award honors an individual or organization for their impact on the health and well-being of southeast Michigan through community engagement and innovation.

Sobelton founded SynBella to reduce health care costs for corporate employers, while improving the health, happiness and overall quality of employees’ lives. Through her work, she has influenced change and improvement in health care by finding unique and resourceful ways to implement preventive measures in the business community employee population. Sobelton’s expertise, displayed in frequent television appearances and social media influence, touches an important spectrum of health care that is necessary to address whole-person care.

The 2015 GDAHC Salute! to Healthcare was made possible by presenting sponsor Beaumont Health, associate sponsor Priority Health, and supporting sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, Health Alliance Plan (HAP), Conifer Insurance Company, Conway MacKenzie, Henry Ford Health System, Humana, Integrated Care Alliance, Med-Share Mobile Diagnostic Imaging, SynBella, the University of Michigan Health System, and University of Michigan Human Resources.