Baptist Health Hardin physician and staff honored with Louisville Business First Health Care Heroes award

Baptist Health Hardin. March 05, 2024

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (Feb. 29, 2024) – Heroes are defined by their noble qualities and high achievements. Healthcare heroes take that a step further, boldly, and selflessly helping others – sometimes at their own risk and always without want of reward or recognition.

Still, these heroes deserve thanks and praise for doing what they do every day – and that’s just what happened last week. On Wednesday, Erin Priddy, RN, BSN, community health and wellness manager, and Aaron Mulhall, MD, pulmonary and critical care physician, were honored at Louisville Business First’s (LBF) Health Care Heroes awards banquet.

According to LBF’s website, the program honors those who have made positive contributions and impact on health care through “...their concern for patients, research, management skills, and innovative programs for employees and service to the poor and uninsured.” Recipients must be nominated and meet selective criteria to receive this prestigious award, which is given annually by LBF.

Erin Priddy, RN, BSN, community health and wellness manager
Erin Priddy was nominated for her meaningful work that has had a powerful impact in Hardin and surrounding counties. Priddy’s work includes health screenings performed as part of the Wellness on Wheels (WOW) mobile health unit initiative; vaccinations; prenatal education; and vaping and substance use education in local schools.

A focal point of the nomination was Priddy’s work was the revolutionary overdose simulation program she spearheaded and developed. The program is designed to educate students about overdose through a live, in-school simulation. Since its launch in October, the overdose simulation program has been presented to high school students in Hardin, LaRue, and Meade Counties.

In the nomination, Vice President and Chief Development officer Tracee Troutt said that the overdose simulation has already generated results by starting conversations amongst teens, teachers, counselors, and families, and that it has been recognized by local schools and the community because  it focuses on a young target audience, attempting to tap the root of three critical community needs - access to care, smoking and vaping, and substance use.

Troutt called Priddy’s work “transformative,” and said that she has a passion and drive to "…break down inequities in healthcare access and to serve the medically underserved. Her overdose simulation work was bold, risky, inspiring and unlike any program created at Baptist Health Hardin… Accomplishing the audacious is what heroes like Erin do best.”

Priddy has been energized by her work with community partners, a key element in the planning of the overdose simulation, which involved collaboration with the school systems, local law enforcement, the coroner’s office, EMS, and the Lincoln Trail District Health Department.

Her success at launching the powerful program is not only attributable to her work ethic and creativity, but it is the direct result of her passion for helping others. “The work I am doing in community health and wellness is some of the most fulfilling work I have done as a nurse,” she said. “I have held many positions during my career, but this one truly brings me a sense of fulfillment.”

Especially fulfilling was her work on the overdose simulation, whose subject matter she holds close to her heart. “My brother passed from an overdose after a long battle with substance use disorder which began when he was 17. I have seen what substance use disorder does to a family. The work I did on this overdose simulation was hopefully to prevent any family from going what my family went through. It was important for me to make sure that youth understand that the decisions they make now can affect them for a lifetime.”

In true hero fashion, Priddy accepted the award humbly and with gratitude, stating that she was honored but completely surprised by the recognition.
Aaron Mulhall, MD, pulmonary and critical care physician
Aaron Mulhall, MD,  was nominated for his leadership during the pandemic; thought leadership and innovation in advocating robotic bronchoscopy; and his humility and collaborative approach. In his nomination, written by Vice President and Chief Medical Officer John Godfrey, MD, Dr. Mulhall was recognized for spearheading efforts to bring robotic bronchoscopy to Baptist Health Hardin and for his commitment to patients during the pandemic. Dr. Mulhall courageously served on the front lines treating patients, and in a leadership capacity as part of a committee of subject matter experts, helping to guide the hospital on critical decisions about how to keep patients and staff safe.

In the nomination, Dr. Godfrey pointed to Dr. Mulhall’s “humble confidence” and “continued willingness to serve” as defining qualities. “His leadership for the acquisition and implementation of the new ION™ robotic-assisted bronchoscopy system at Baptist Health Hardin is revolutionizing how lung cancer diagnosis and early treatment is occurring in central Kentucky…Dr. Mulhall is the epitome of selfless patient care which he displayed by working so bravely and tirelessly throughout the pandemic, yet he has never once requested any recognition for this herculean effort. He did what was necessary because that is his calling:  to heal the sick.”

As an ICU physician, Dr. Mulhall says it is rewarding to work with the critical care team to achieve positive outcomes for patients and to be there for families at some of life's most challenging moments. As for lung cancer, Mulhall said he was not only excited to get the new robotic bronchoscopy technology but is reassured to see the results it is garnering for lung cancer in the region. While an increase in lung cancer diagnoses over the last nine months may not sound encouraging, this fact is evidence that more people are getting the diagnoses they need to get into treatment at a faster rate specifically due to more accurate diagnostic capability.

“It’s been making a difference in people’s lives that we can diagnose lung cancer at a very early stage. That’s a five-year survival rate of 90-95%, and you can’t get much better than that with lung cancer.” Dr. Mulhall said robotic bronchoscopy procedures are being performed at a high and steady rate at Baptist Health Hardin – enough that the hospital could be leading the state in these procedures.

Regarding his award, Dr. Mulhall was quick to selflessly accept the recognition for the team. “It’s a good feeling that our group and the things we are doing here are being recognized – and not just locally. Being recognized from the larger city of Louisville for the things are we doing down here is great. We are up there with some of the larger regional centers for what we do, and I think it’s pretty cool to receive recognition like that for the advancements we are putting in place for our patients.”

Priddy and Dr. Mulhall were among 25 people honored with the award this year. Also among the recipients was Mike Schroyer, president of Baptist Health Floyd.

Congratulations to Erin Priddy and Dr. Mulhall, for their outstanding achievements and humble service to the patients of Baptist Health Hardin and the communities of central Kentucky.