SHM Converge

SHM 2021 Awards of Excellence and Junior Investigator Awards



Teamwork in Quality Improvement

Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit health system based in Salt Lake City serving the needs of patients primarily in Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Intermountain recently reimagined its leadership structure with an integrated approach focused on developing and implementing common goals across its 23-hospital healthcare system, which was previously divided into regions. With key focus areas including communication, best practices, and goal setting, this structure has helped to combat former fragmentation struggles by creating an environment that provides a consistent high-level care experience regardless of the treatment center a patient selects.

The Med/Surg Operations team at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City Intermountain Healthcare

The Med/Surg Operations team at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City

With this reorganization came improved structure allowing for a unique team-based approach while still promoting clear communication lines across the 23 hospitals. This innovative Med/Surg Operations Lane allowed for flexible adaptation to the rapidly changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. Intermountain Healthcare utilized its new framework to ensure crisis-ready operations by defining best practices through real-time literature review and teaming with ED, ICU, and Nursing to create COVID-19 workflows, order sets, and dashboards. Capacity issues were addressed with a variety of strategies: (1) daily systemwide huddles to facilitate load leveling between hospitals; (2) the use of telehealth for early discharges; and (3) remote patient monitoring and admission to the “Intermountain at Home” program, which preserved the ability to deliver critical surgical services.

This new value model clearly sets Intermountain apart from its peers.


Lilia Cervantes, MD

Dr. Lilia Cervantes is associate professor in the department of medicine at Denver Health Medical Center and the University of Colorado, where she demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to diversity through her patient care, community service efforts, research, and health policy activism.

Dr. Lilia Cervantes, associate professor in the department of medicine at Denver Health Medical Center and the University of Colorado

Dr. Lilia Cervantes

Following her internal medicine residency at the University of Colorado in 2008, Dr. Cervantes went on to obtain her master of science degree in clinical science, and became associate professor of medicine and a hospitalist at Denver Health Medical Center. In addition to her patient-centric roles at Denver Health, Dr. Cervantes has held a variety of roles in the health equity space. These include founding Denver Health Medical Center’s Health Equity Learning Series and the Healthcare Interest Program, a pre–health pipeline program for undergraduate students interested in a healthcare career.

Dr. Cervantes attributes her passion for becoming a physician to her background as a bilingual Latina who grew up in poverty. She says that her upbringing allows her to use this unique lens to connect with her diverse patient population and to advocate for marginalized communities and eliminate structural inequities.

Her experience with Hilda, an undocumented immigrant with kidney failure, was the catalyst for further research on marginalized patients without access to healthcare, which earned her interviews with NPR and CNN’s Chief Health Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Her research and advocacy led to Colorado Medicaid’s expanding access to scheduled dialysis for undocumented immigrants with kidney failure. Upon announcement of the change, Dr. Cervantes was recognized as the driving force whose research informed the decision.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Cervantes has worked diligently to launch research projects and create grant-funded programs to reduce the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Latinx community in Denver. One of her studies centers on the Latinx community – through qualitative interviews of Latinx who had survived a COVID-19 hospitalization, Dr. Cervantes learned about the challenges faced during the pandemic. These findings informed local and national interventions to reduce COVID-19 in the Latinx community.

She has received numerous accolades, including the inaugural Outstanding Service to the Community in 2019 by Denver Health, the Florence Rena Sabin Award from the University of Colorado, and awards from the community – Health Equity Champion Award from the Center for Health Progress and the Unsung Heroine Award from the Latina First Foundation. She serves on several boards including two community-based organizations – the Center for Health Progress and Vuela for Health.

Dr. Cervantes has been an active member of SHM since 2009 and served as keynote speaker for the annual “Summit of the Rockies” Rocky Mountain Chapter SHM conference, “The role of advocacy: Moving the needle towards health equity.”


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