Laura Baker, Emma Birks, Jerry Blackwell, Aaron Hesselson, Paula Holbrook, Nock LeMeunier, Aaron Mauck, Rick R. McClure, Mark Newman, Mandy Prather, Ashley Schenk, Susan Smyth, Lori Walsh, Karen Wilson

Laura Baker, MBA, MS

Market Development Manager
UK HealthCare Brand Strategy
Lexington, Kentucky

Laura earned a BA in Public Relations from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and an MBA and MS in Marketing from Indiana University-Kelley School of Business.

Laura has spent her entire career in marketing, directing marketing strategy, and executing tactical campaigns across the spectrum of traditional and digital media.

She has been at UKHC for three years in brand strategy and marketing development for various service lines including cardiovascular, neuroscience, and transplant services. She creates messaging to engage consumers and physicians across appropriate platforms and has implemented successful campaigns for members of the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute Network such as Hearts Across Kentucky and Love Your Heart.

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Emma Birks, MD

Professor, Medicine
University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Lexington, Kentucky

Dr. Birks earned a medical degree from the Royal Free and University College Medical School/ UCL Medical School in London, United Kingdom. She completed Internal Medicine residencies at Hammersmith Hospital, Guys Hospital, The London Chest Hospital, Hillingdon Hospital, and Harefield Hospital London. followed by Cardiology Fellowships at North West Thames Cardiology, in London, and Harefield Hospital, in Uxbridge, United Kingdom, and Heart Failure Transplant, Harefield Hospital, at Uxbridge, United Kingdom.

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Jerry Blackwell, MD, MBA, FACC

President and CEO
Neptune Beach, Florida

Dr. Blackwell graduated from Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and completed residency/chief residency/fellowship at the Ohio State University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He earned an executive MBA from the University of Tennessee.

He has more than thirty years of experience in cardiovascular medicine including academic cardiology, private practice, and large integrated cardiovascular group leadership. Most recently, he served as executive vice president and chief clinical officer of the Ballad Health System.

Blackwell has a passion for physician leadership, teaching, and care transformation - particularly team-based care and organizational performance improvement. He maintains a clinical practice with special interests in advanced imaging, including cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, cardiovascular CT angiography, and cardiac positron emission tomography.

Blackwell has been involved with both MedAxiom and the American College of Cardiology for many years. He has served on the ACC's Board of Governors, the board of directors for the Cardiology Advocacy Alliance, and the ACC's Health Affairs Committee.

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Aaron Hesselson, MD, FACC, FHRS

Associate Professor, Medicine
University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Director, Electrophysiologic Services
UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute
UK HealthCare
Lexington, Kentucky

Dr. Hesselson earned an MD from New Jersey Medical School in Newark, New Jersey, and completed a Harvard medical residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He completed fellowships in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology and Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, and American Board of Internal Medicine, Clinical Cardiac EP.

Dr. Aaron Hesselson has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of cardiac electrophysiology and brings his experience in complex cardiac ablation and device management of congestive heart failure to UK.

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Paula Holbrook, RN, BHS, JD, CPHRM

Associate General Counsel
Associate Director, Risk Management
UK HealthCare
Lexington, Kentucky

Ms. Holbrook is responsible for providing legal advice and assistance to staff and hospital leadership in the areas of clinical risk management, patient safety, and legal issues incidental to the provision of care of care such as legal liability and analysis and healthcare surrogate decision making.

She has extensive legal and clinical experience and, prior to joining UK HealthCare over twelve years ago, she was a former Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Attorney General and Assistant Counsel in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

She attended the University of Tennessee, earned an RN Diploma from Fort Sanders School of Nursing, and earned BHS and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Paula is a member of the Kentucky and American Societies for HealthCare Risk Management, the American Health Lawyers Association and the Kentucky Bar Association.

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Nock LeMeunier, BA

Director, Sales and Customer Relations
Apex Innovations
Lafayette, Louisiana

Mr. LeMeunier spends his days working with both existing clients and potential new accounts. He is a proud graduate of St. Stanislaus College, a Catholic boarding school for young men on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the University of Southwestern Louisiana, with a BA in Mass Communications.

Apex Innovations, headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana, is a web-based company founded in 2003. Apex provides the highest-quality, guideline-based, continuing education to individuals, hospitals, health care systems, universities, and corporations around the world. Their goal is to engage and empower learners by delivering interactive education with amazing graphics and exceptional 3-D animations. Apex is utilized in over 45 countries and holds the highest organizational recognition possible as a provider of continuing education by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) - Accreditation with Commendation and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) - Accreditation with Distinction.

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Aaron Mauck, PhD

Senior Director and National Spokesperson
Advisory Board Company
Washington, DC

The Advisory Board Company is a for-profit, publicly-traded research, technology, and consulting firm serving more than 4,400 leading hospitals and health systems.

Dr. Mauck advises health systems and health care industry companies on issues of strategy, financing, and performance management.

He has over 15 years of health care research and consulting experience, specializing in topics including health care market dynamics, payment and delivery models, performance measurement, and population health.

Prior to joining the Advisory Board, Aaron served on the faculty of Harvard University where he taught a range of courses on health care in the United States. He has also previously served as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and as affiliated faculty in the Program in Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices at Northeastern University.

Aaron holds a PhD from Harvard University, a MA from the University of California, and a BA from Reed College.

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Rick R. McClure, MD, FACC

Professor and Vice Chair, Internal Medicine-Cardiology
University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Medical Director, UK Gill Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiovascular Outreach Clinics and Affiliate Network
Senior Ambulatory Medical Director, Medicine
UK HealthCare
Lexington, Kentucky

Dr. McClure earned an MD from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency (serving as chief resident) and a cardiovascular medicine fellowship at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

Dr. McClure serves as Vice Chair of Internal Medicine and is a liaison to clinical faculty. He works with and supports the various division chiefs, service lines, and center leaders affiliated with the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. McClure serves as a representative of the department on several committees including the Enterprise Finance Committee, Ambulatory Oversight Committee, and the Productivity Advisory Group. He collaborates with faculty to develop approaches and create changes to improve physician engagement in collaboration with enterprise leadership. Along with these responsibilities, he works to improve revenue cycle, including billing, coding and documentation; works around value-based care (Ambulatory Quality & Value Steering Committee); participates in faculty recruitment; and reviews, supports, and continues to develop work by the advanced practice provider committee.

Dr. McClure also participates in ambulatory, hospital, and outreach clinical activities within the Gill Heart and Vascular academic service line.

He is certificated by the American Board of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Medicine.

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Mark Newman, MD

Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
UK HealthCare
Lexington, Kentucky

Born and raised in Owensboro and a veteran of the US Air Force, Dr. Newman has held a variety of increasingly senior positions at Duke, including professor of medicine and chair of anesthesiology.

His background as a clinician-scientist, a chairman, a hospital leader, and president of a large multispecialty physician group, as well as his love for the Commonwealth and its people, give him unique insight and experience to lead our academic medical campus.

Newman grew up in Kentucky as part of a farm family with a strong focus on education. He stayed close to home to attend Western Kentucky University to help his family while his father was ill and began running the family farm after his father passed away. He received the Air Force Health Professions Scholarship to attend medical school at the University of Louisville. He completed residency in the Air Force and a fellowship in Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and Transesophageal Echocardiography at Duke University Medical Center before returning to active duty at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Medical Center, a US Air Force facility. He was deployed for Operation “Just Cause” and then for “Desert Shield” and “Desert Storm.”

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Mandy Prather, BA

Director, Marketing & Communications
Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital
Somerset, Kentucky

Mandy considers herself South Carolina born, Washington, DC bred, and Kentucky proud. Raised in Columbia, South Carolina, she holds a BA in English from Clemson University and spent seven years in the non-profit arts sector in Washington, DC, working to elevate Fortune 500 and 100 brands through strategic corporate development projects.

After moving to Kentucky in 2011, she joined Centre College as the Associate Director at the Norton Center for the Arts where she designed and implemented a comprehensive marketing and fundraising strategy to support a robust calendar of performances and activities.

Mandy has been the Director of Marketing & Communications at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, a LifePoint facility, since December 2018. In less than two years, she has revamped the facility’s physician on-boarding strategy, produced over 60 new videos of content to spearhead a new multi-media effort, more than doubled the hospital’s social engagement online, and helped launch Lake Cumberland’s relationship with UK’s Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.

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Ashley Schenk, PharmD, BCPS, BCCP

Assistant Adjunct Professor
University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Cardiology Clinical Pharmacist
UK HealthCare
Lexington, Kentucky

Dr. Schenk, originally from Prague, Nebraska, received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in May 2015. She completed her PGY1 Pharmacy Residency at Saint Joseph East in Lexington, Kentucky, and went on to complete a PGY2 Cardiology Pharmacy Residency at UK HealthCare in Lexington, Kentucky. After completion of her PGY2 residency, she accepted a position as a Cardiology Clinical Pharmacist at UK HealthCare, where she provides pharmaceutical care to medical cardiology patients. Dr. Schenk is actively engaged in both teaching and precepting activities, including precepting pharmacy students and residents on clinical rotations and leading didactic therapeutic lectures at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. She is board certified in pharmacotherapy and cardiology. Her research involves the impact of pharmacist-run transitions of care programs on hospital readmission rates in the setting of acute coronary syndrome. Her practice areas of interest include acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, anticoagulation, and congenital heart defects.

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Susan Smyth, MD, PhD, FACC

Jack Gill Professor, Cardiology
University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Chief, Cardiovascular Medicine
Medical Director, Gill Heart & Vascular Institute
UK HealthCare
Lexington, Kentucky

Dr. Smyth is a physician scientist who combines clinical practice in cardiology with NIH-, VA-, and industry-funded research focused on the interplay between inflammation and thrombosis in vascular biology. Her research seeks to define the contribution of extracellular mediators and blood and vascular cell-surface signaling receptors to test the pathways in clinical studies in humans. Her work has resulted in novel mechanistic insight into thromboinflammatory pathways and the generation of unique reagents, preclinical models, technology, and new therapeutic strategies for vascular diseases. Recent studies investigate pathways for production, metabolism, and biologic effects of lysophospholipid mediators in cardiovascular health and disease.

Her clinical interests are in arterial and venous thrombosis, and she leads an enterprise-wide effort in thrombosis prevention and management. She has authored more than 150 publications and contributed to over a dozen textbooks.

Smyth earned an AB in Biology, summa cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and graduated from the MD/PhD Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing training in Internal Medicine, she performed cardiology subspecialty fellowship training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, New York, and at the University of North Carolina.

She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, on the council for the Association of University Cardiologists, a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, a fellow of the American Heart Association, and listed on Best Doctors® in America. In 2008, she received the Stewart-Niewiarowski Award in Vascular Biology and was the 2013 recipient of the Jeffrey M. Hoeg Award from the American Heart Association. She serves on the Board of Governors for the American College of Cardiology and on the steering committee for the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.

She also has a part-time appointment as a cardiologist and funded investigator at the Lexington VA Medical Center.

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Lori Walsh, MHSA

Executive Vice President of Membership and Operations
Nashville, Tennessee

With an obvious passion for what she does, Lori has worked in healthcare for over fourteen years, including nine years as the Director of Operations for Heart Clinic Arkansas. In that position, she was responsible for the clinical and business operations of the practice, including managing the staff at eight main locations and thirteen satellite facilities. While at the practice, Lori led the EHR implementation at each facility, launched three new outreach clinics and a cath lab, and was involved with practice mergers, physician recruitment and workflow redesign projects.

In her current role, Lori uses her healthcare background to help our current and prospective members build relationships within the industry and maximize the benefits of MedAxiom’s exclusive educational and research support services to improve their programs. Lori takes her vast operations experience and applies it towards our client practices in the areas of operational efficiency, financial performance, workflow redesign, strategic planning, and business development.

Lori has a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. She has received Lean Sigma training from Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

Areas of Expertise include Clinical Strategy and Optimization, Operational and Performance Management, Workflow Redesign, Performance Benchmarking, Practice Assessments, Utilizing Data and Analytical Tools, and Process Optimization.

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Karen Wilson, MHA

Director, Member Relations
Neptune Beach, Florida

Karen has worked in healthcare for two decades and began her career in hospital administration with a focus on strategic planning and service line management.

In 2001, she was offered the opportunity to join Virginia Cardiovascular Specialists (VCS), a large independent cardiology group in Richmond, Virginia, and one of the original CLA practices. At VCS, she served as a key member on the administrative team, built a referring physician program, and led business development, planning, and marketing strategies.

In 2011, Karen transitioned to integrated cardiology practices and joined HCA’s Physician Services Group (PSG) in San Antonio as Director for Cardiology Business Development. She provided planning and data analysis expertise and products for three cardiology practices (60 total providers), coordinating data collection and reporting consistency across all groups and facilitating several committees for the health system’s cardiovascular service line. Her responsibilities increased when she was promoted to Director of Strategic Planning for PSG’s San Antonio Division. In this role, Karen worked with 140 providers in 16 practices of various specialties, completed the groundwork for the health system’s entry into the urgent care market, and supported physician growth strategies for eight HCA/Methodist facilities.

In 2017, PSG asked Karen to take on an operational role as interim administrator for Cardiology Clinic of San Antonio. After a new administrator was in place, she remained on the leadership team keeping responsibilities for reporting and consolidated functions across the practice’s many locations. Karen implemented a new phone system, overhauled phone operations to a call center model, and played a significant role in the group’s electronic medical record conversion.

At MedAxiom, Karen works to ensure the needs of MedAxiom’s members are fully supported.

Karen finds joy in combining her need to serve people with her unique love of numbers, data analytics, and ability to provide order and understanding in a sometimes chaotic industry. She is known for being organized with a keen eye for detail and a skilled communicator at multiple levels within a healthcare organization.

Karen has a BA in Business and Economics from Wheaton College and an MHA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia Campus.

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