WellStar West Georgia Medical Center vice president and chief operating officer Charis Acree was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s annual Hospital Heroes Awards luncheon recently in Atlanta.

Acree, who was the only health care worker statewide to receive the award, was recognized for her service to the hospital and West Georgia community.

She has a 40-year career in healthcare, beginning as an administrative intern and working her way up to her current senior executive position, where she is responsible for several hospital operations, such as cardiovascular services, oncology, pharmacy, laboratory, respiratory and rehabilitation services.

One of Acree’s most influential contributions to the community was the idea to introduce hospice care at a time when the concept of this type of care was not widespread around the state. Around 1980, she and the late Dr. Julian Duttera, medical oncologist, traveled to Washington, D.C., to garner legislative support for Medicare reimbursement for patients in need of hospice services. While waiting for the reimbursement to finally become effective in 1986, Acree worked to develop a formal hospice program.

She has also led the charge in other significant programs in the community, such as the hospital’s Florence Hand Home-skilled nursing facility, home health, dialysis and wound care center. She has also helped further the careers of many health care professionals under her direction.

Founded in 1929, GHA serves more than 170 hospitals in Georgia and promotes the health and welfare of the public through the development of better hospital care for all Georgia’s citizens.

For more information, call 770-249-4500 or visit gha.org.

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