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Feleppa earns Hero for the Uninsured Award

May 4, 2012
The Daily News

MARQUETTE - Seven exemplary health service providers and volunteers from across Upper Michigan - including Dr. Virginia Feleppa of Iron Mountain - will be honored Thursday, May 10, for their contributions in assisting uninsured Upper Peninsula residents to gain access to health care.

They will receive 2012 Hero for the Uninsured Awards at the 5th annual recognition dinner in Marquette, sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Health Access Coalition in cooperation with local access coalitions and hospitals from across the U.P.

"UPHAC is pleased to recognize special people in 2012 for extending exceptional assistance to uninsured residents of their communities," said Bill Reid, UPHAC board president. "Once again, we'll be honoring the memory of one of our own with a special 'Hero' recognition named for the late Dr. Richard Imm, a long-time advocate for uninsured residents of the Upper Peninsula and a founding member of UPHAC.

Recipients of the Dr. Richard Imm Memorial "Hero" Award and six other Hero for the Uninsured Awards represent hundreds of others who partner with local access coalitions of the U.P. to respond to needs of families, friends and neighbors who lack health care coverage.

This year's Hero for the Uninsured Awardees to be honored May 10 are:

- The Rev. Dr. David Mair of Marquette will receive the Richard Imm Memorial "Hero" Award. A long-time commitment to social responsibility through his affiliation with the Presbyterian Church led to Dr. Mair's vision for a faith-based response to address health care needs of uninsured residents in his community. With support of medical, community and religious leaders, his efforts led to the founding of Medical Care Access Coalition (MCAC) in Marquette County in 2000 and, ultimately, to creation of four other Local Access Coalitions that now serve the Upper Peninsula's uninsured population. He helped guide MCAC's first 10 years as a member of its Board of Directors.

- Bonnie Hafeman, MD, of the Laurium Wellness Center is recognized as a "Most Valuable Partner" in serving the medical care needs of uninsured residents of the Keweenaw Peninsula since 2005 in cooperation with the Western U.P. Healthcare Access Coalition (WUPHAC).

- Kim McCullough, MD, of Sault Ste. Marie, also recognized as a "Most Valuable Partner," is commended for his long-standing advocacy for and commitment to providing general surgery care for patients in his community regardless of their ability to pay. He has been a generous volunteer specialty care provider for nearly 100 patients of Community Health Access Coalition (CHAC) of the eastern Upper Peninsula since 2004.

- Virginia Feleppa, MD, of Iron Mountain, honored as an "Above & Beyond" Hero, not only assisted in establishing the Dickinson-Iron Medical Care Access Coalition (DIMCAC) in her community in 2004 but has championed its work by recruiting physicians and other health care providers to donate services for the uninsured. She came out of retirement in 2009 to care for DIMCAC patients and others served by the Federally Qualified Health Center Clinic in Spalding.

- Thomas Mack, MD, of Marinette, Wis., was among the first volunteer care providers to join the Twin Counties Free Clinic which, since 2000, has served patients from Marinette County in Wisconsin and Menominee County in Michigan. He currently is the clinic's president and an active and on-call care provider, reviewing lab work and authorizing prescriptions for all clinic patients, including Medical Access Coalition enrollees. He is being recognized as an "Above & Beyond" Hero.

- Larry Buege, PA-C, of Marquette is honored as a "Personal Touch" Hero for his volunteer role post-retirement as a compassionate and committed health care provider at Medical Care Access Coalition's twice-monthly clinics and in facilitating MCAC scheduling of new patients for appointments. His empathetic and understanding demeanor wins his patients' confidence and respect.

- Wilkinson Dental of Marquette is being recognized as an "Innovation Hero" for responding to the need of uninsured Marquette County residents for dental care services by hosting three free clinics in 2011 in cooperation with Medical Care Access Coalition. Christopher Wilkinson, DDS, and his staff provided nearly $20,000 in dental services during 38 patient visits.

A total of 12 individuals, community programs and health care organizations were nominated for 2012 "Hero for the Uninsured" Awards.

All will be acknowledged during the May 10 recognition dinner at UpFront & Company. The event begins with a 5 p.m. (Eastern time) reception, followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m.

The evening's speaker will be Thomas LeGalley, MD, cardiologist and a founding member of the access coalition network in the U.P.

Tickets are $30 per person; reservation information is available from UPHAC at (906) 233.0210 or e-mail



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