Each year, GHA presents its Distinguished Service Award to a hospital trustee or community leader who has made outstanding contributions to health care. This is a prestigious annual award presented during the GHA Annual Summer Meeting..

The nomination must show how the candidate meets each of the following criteria:

  • Is a recognized leader in the community and in his or her own business or profession.
  • Has contributed both time and talent to bettering the hospital and other health care services in the community.
  • Has brought about specific and positive changes that have advanced health care services in the community, such as improved facilities or new ways to deliver health care services; and
  • Has increased public attention to the health care needs of the community and has created public concern for meeting those needs.
Nomination Format
GHA recognizes that a candidate's qualifications will vary widely according to his/her individual positions and types of contributions. Thus, a nomination may be submitted in narrative form summarizing the candidate’s accomplishments and stating the reasons the nomination is being made. Additional information, such as newspaper clippings or letters of support, also may be included. But because of the prestigious nature of the awards, the nomination must address each of the criteria. No particular length is required although an average length would be two or three typed pages, double-spaced.

Hospital or health system CEOs currently employed at any GHA-member institution are NOT eligible for nomination. Any GHA member may make a nomination. Judging will be performed by an anonymous committee appointed by the GHA Chair. 

How to Nominate

Nominations for the 2019 competition will open in January. Any GHA member may submit a nomination.

2018 Winner - Starr H. Purdue, Navicent Health

Starr H. Purdue has served on the Navicent Health Board of Directors since 2001 and has served as its chair since 2009. During her tenure as chair, she has been instrumental in leading Navicent Health’s growth and prominence throughout the central and south Georgia region. Under her guidance, the health system has received many regional and national awards, and recognition in the areas of leadership, quality, equity of care, and community and citizenship endeavors. 

Purdue, a Macon native, has helped advance healthcare services for patients in central and south Georgia by helping the health system expand services and enhance its facilities and technology. Her commitment to improving lives is evident in the development and improvement of high-quality health services offered by Navicent Health. She helped cultivate the development of several services and programs, including pediatric services through the construction of the new Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health and its associated pediatric emergency room; the creation of Autism and Dvelopmental Center, Navicent Health; the construction of and consolidation of oncology services at Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, Navicent Health; the addition of a heliport at The Medical Center, Navicent Health; and the construction of an inpatient hospice facility at Pine Pointe, Navicent Health. 

Purdue’s focus on relationships with community partners has fostered a collaboration between Navicent Health and hospitals in surrounding counties. These beneficial partnerships have helped expand access to care beyond the Macon area and the walls of Navicent Health so that patients in these areas can remain close to home for high quality care. 

Under Purdue’s leadership, Navicent Health developed several programs to address health disparities in the community and  social determinants that may otherwise impede the ability to access care. Healthy Communities, Navicent Health is a program that partners with public and private organizations to address social factors that lead to poor health. MedLaw, Navicent Health is a team of legal, social and medical workers who provide free legal services to qualified patients. The expansion of primary care and preventive services in low-income neighborhoods has been made possible through a partnership with the health system and community health centers. Purdue has championed these efforts and has been a key player in uniting the health system with area partners. 

“Starr Purdue has led tremendous efforts to better the health of Navicent Health patients as well as residents of the community and surrounding areas. Thanks to her dedication, thousands of individuals have access to better healthcare and a better quality of life. She is most-deserving of this award,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. 

“We are so very pleased that Starr has been recognized for her tireless dedication to improving the lives of others. Starr has dedicated her life to serving others, and GHA’s Distinguished Service Award truly epitomizes her character and commitment to this community and this region. It is an honor to serve alongside her,” said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, FACHE, President and CEO of Navicent Health. 

Past Distinguished Service Award Winners

  • 2017 - Charles Moore, M.D., Grady Health System
  • 2015 - Don Thomas, M.D., Hamilton Medical Center, and William Pannell, M.D., Crisp Regional Hospital
  • 2014 - Walter C. McNeely, Southeast Georgia Health System
  • 2013 - Aretha Neal, Monroe County Hospital, and Lila Hertz, Piedmont Healthcare
  • 2012 - Benjamin H. Underwood (Gold Honor Award of Excellence), Charles 'Pete' Wood, WellStar Health System, and W. Woodrow Stewart, Northeast Georgia Health System
  • 2011 - A. D. 'Pete' Correll, Grady Health System
  • 2010 - Leonard Fant, Hutcheson Health Foundation, and R. Lee Smith, Jr., University Hospital
  • 2009 - Sen. Greg Goggans (R-7), Coffee Regional Medical Center, and Norman Morris, Upson Regional Medical Center
  • 2008 - James Lanier Allgood, Jr., Fairview Park Hospital, and Richard B. Hubbard, III, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Inc.
  • 2007 - Levi W. Hill, Augusta, and William Waters, III, M.D., Atlanta
  • 2006 - H. Duane Blair, M.D., Decatur, and Eldred Tippins, Jr., Claxton
  • 2005 - Romeo Adams, Royston, and Howard Stroud, Sr., Athens
  • 2004 - David Apple, Jr., M.D., Atlanta, and Wayne T. Sikes, Lawrenceville
  • 2003 - Robert L. Brown, Jr., Atlanta, and George Jeter, Columbus
  • 2002 - James Floyd, Jr., Hinesville, and Judy McMahan, Decatur
  • 2001 - Rosemary Evans, Forsyth, and Willie (Bill) H. Odom, Macon
  • 2000 - William M. Huffman, Rome, and W. Harry Wilson, Albany
  • 1999 - Frank S. Dennis, Jr., Augusta, and John B. Prince, III, Tifton
  • 1998 - Clarence C. Butler, M.D., Columbus, and Damon D. King, Macon
  • 1997 - Jeff Kinlaw, Alma, Edward D. Griffin, Sr., Columbus, and Pauline Channell Richardson, Greensboro
  • 1996 - Charles B. Eberhart, Decatur
  • 1995 - B. G. Early, Rome, and Harley Langdale, Jr., Valdosta
  • 1994 - T. Richard Daniel, Augusta, and Hulett D. Sumlin, Atlanta
  • 1993 - Edward C. Loughlin, Jr., M.D., Atlanta, and Perry G. Busbee, M.D., Cordele
  • 1992 - Alana Smith Shepherd, Atlanta, and C. Jackson Bandy, Dalton
  • 1991 - Harold Nichols, Blairsville, and Charles R. Underwood, M.D., Marietta
  • 1990 - J. William Pinkston, Jr., Atlanta
  • 1989 - J. N. Cook, DeSoto, and Richard L. Olson, Columbus
  • 1988 - Richard E. Bird, Statesboro, and W. Carl Gordon, Jr., M.D., Albany
  • 1986-87 - T. W. Lord, Jr., Marietta, and J. Roger Sumner, Rome
  • 1985 - Frederick Higginbotham, Atlanta, and James P. Hollis, Newnan
  • 1984 - William T. Barnes, Macon, and Charles Yager, Dahlonega
  • 1983 - George M. Rooks, Jr., Hartwell, and Aldine Rosser, Statesboro
  • 1982 - Jack Hughston, M.D., Columbus, and Edwin B. Peel, Atlanta
  • 1981 - Norman Dorminy, Fitzgerald, and Byron L. Southwell, Tifton
  • 1980 - Mary W. Schley, M.D., Columbus, and Charles D. Hudson, LaGrange
  • 1979 - Harry W. Jernigan, Jr., Augusta, and Robert W. Woodruff, Atlanta
  • 1978 - J. P. Turner, Jr., Dalton, and Samuel R. Hunter, Sr., Americus
  • 1977 - John Holt Moye, Columbus, and William C. Wardlaw, Jr., Atlanta
  • 1976 - Hugh B. Landrum, Jr., Columbus, and James R. Lientz, Savannah
  • 1975 - Lucius H. Atherton, Sr., Marietta, and John W. Gates, Rome
  • 1974 - Glenn M. Hogan, Atlanta
  • 1973 - Carl T. Barrett, Canton, and J. W. Fanning, Washington
  • 1972 - John Rufus Evans, M.D., Decatur, and Fuller E. Callaway, Jr., LaGrange
  • 1971 - Harry H. Purvis, Cornelia, Judge B. B. Heery, Savannah
  • 1970 - Louie D. Newton, Atlanta, and George Lamar Westcott, Dalton
  • 1969 - Boisfeuillet Jones, Atlanta, and Elbert P. Peabody, Augusta
  • 1968 - John A. Sibley, Atlanta, R. C. Williams, M.D., Atlanta, and Reuben G. Clark, Savannah