NC PACE Association Presents Awards

On April 13th, North Carolina PACE Association honored three individuals at its 2019 annual conference closing luncheon: Misty Polston-York, Jessica Thomas and retiring executive director Linda Shaw. Congratulations to this year's winners, who join the ranks of other outstanding PACE staff and supporters who have been recognized since the Association's first conference in 2014.

It is never to soon to be thinking about others deserving of these awards. Nominations will open in December for next year's awards, which will be presented March 13th at the 2020 annual conference.

From left: Linda Shaw (NC PACE Association), Uchenna Ohajunwa (Carolina SeniorCare), Misty Polston-York (Carolina SeniorCare), Shawn Bloom (National PACE Association) and Dave Beijer (CarePartners PACE and Board Chair, NC PACE Association)
Award for Direct Care: Misty Polston-York, Director of Spiritual Life at Carolina Senior Care

This award recognizes an individual who reflects PACE values by providing the highest quality of care to participants. There is no higher, more demanding, or potentially fulfilling, calling than caring for others. While it might be a job for some, only those who truly care about the people they serve will excel at it as Misty does.

“Misty has made tremendous impact on the participant's lives at Carolina SeniorCare. She thinks big and is always looking for 'wow' moments to put a smile on someone's face. She is a Chaplain, counselor, and cheerleader for our participants. Misty is always eager to speak with participants, learn of their needs and work towards their desires,” said Thomas Chang, Executive Director. She organized a vow renewal ceremony for nine couples who had never had a formal wedding, complete with wedding cake, appropriate attire, friends and family, and photos. “The participants continue to talk about the celebration and how it made them feel; they are eager to show guests their photo books from the special day.” Misty worked with team members to see that a participant could attend Mass one last time, and that another could view a lake. She was instrumental in securing choir robes for the participant choir, and she established a boutique of supplies available for those in need. “Misty is loved by participants, team members and families.” It is easy to see why!

From left: Renee Rizzuti (PACE of the Southern Piedmont), Linda Shaw (NC PACE Association), Jessica Thomas, Carol McGuire and Heidi Goss (PACE of the Southern Piedmont) and Dave Beijer (CarePartners PACE and Board Chair, NC PACE Association)
Merit Award for Indirect Care: Jessica Thomas, Unit Secretary at PACE of the Southern Piedmont

This award recognizes an individual who best upholds the vision and dedication of the PACE team who works mostly “behind the scenes” rather than one-on-one with participants, but whose contributions facilitate and promote the functioning of the overall team in delivering and promoting the PACE program and the PACE team model of care.

“Jessica walked into our clinic and from her very first day displayed innovation and extraordinary customer service,” said Renee Rizzuti, Executive Director of PACE of the Southern Piedmont. “Her commitment and ability to streamline processes has led to additional roles within the organization. Jessica inspires the trust and confidence of all those she interacts with, including teammates, outside vendors  and first and foremost, our participants and caregivers. Quality is her personal goal. On a daily basis there will be a compliment such as ‘I know Jessica will handle this’”. Congratulations, Jessica!

From left: Award namesake and 2014 Dr. Marsha Fretwell award winner with 2019 winner Linda Shaw
Dr. Marsha Fretwell NC PACEsetter Award: Linda Shaw, retiring PACE Association Executive Director

While PACE professionals go above and beyond the call of duty every day, the PACEsetter Award recognizes extraordinary service and impact that “raises the bar and changes the world”. The PACEsetter winner, like the award’s namesake, recognizes PACE not just as a program, but as a solution to the healthcare challenge we all face together. As the original executive director of the NC PACE Association, Linda Shaw exhibited the leadership and the drive that enables all of us to do a better job of serving our participants and building the PACE community.

Read more about Linda's accomplishments, and her farewell letter to PACE friends and family, upon her retirement from NC PACE Association.