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VGM HME Woman of the Year Award

VGM Group, Inc. HME Woman of the Year Logo

This Year’s HME Woman of the Year Is:
Wendy Russalesi

Wendy Russalesi is the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) for AdaptHealth. Having worked in the home medical equipment (HME) industry for 20 years, she plays an integral role in the strategic direction, implementation, and oversight of the company’s corporate compliance programs and ensures the business meets compliance requirements from the local, state, and federal level.

Wendy has served as a DMEPOS industry consultant, spent time as an ACHC DMEPOS surveyor, and has served as executive director of the Jersey Association of Medical Equipment Services. She has also participated in numerous trade association councils, the DME MAC Provider Outreach and Advisory Council, is certified in healthcare compliance, and is an active member of the Health Care Compliance Association.

The HME Woman of the Year award, sponsored by VGM, is in its fourth year. It recognizes one woman in the industry who has made significant contributions throughout her career to her company, community, and the HME industries. The award was presented Tuesday, Oct. 22 at a special event during the Medtrade Home Medical Equipment Conference and Expo in Atlanta.

"On behalf of our entire VGM team, I am honored to present Wendy Russalesi with this well-deserved recognition for all that she’s accomplished over two decades of service,” said Mallaro. “Everyone is better off when smart, passionate leaders advocate for the industry across congressional channels and trade associations. Wendy has done that relentlessly. She epitomizes what we, as an industry, look like on our best day."

VGM 2019 HME Woman of the Year Award Finalists

Four finalists have been named for the 2019 HME Woman of the Year. The winner will be announced during a special ceremony at Medtrade in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at 8 a.m. at the Georgia World Conference Center Room C101.

Now in its fourth year, the award, sponsored by VGM, recognizes one woman in the industry who has made significant contributions throughout her career to her company, community and the HME industries.

The nominees included a broad spectrum of providers, manufacturers and other professionals in the HME, rehab, respiratory and mastectomy industry.

“These women are determined advocates and leaders—serving our industry selflessly for years,” said Clint Geffert, President of VGM & Associates. “They exemplify the dedication and innovation required to have a positive impact not only on their business and coworkers, but also the customers and the communities they serve.”   

HME Woman of the Year nominations are open to all women, regardless of title or position, who work within the HME industry.

The HME Woman of the Year finalists are:

  • Donna Cady, Managing Director, Mercy Health St. Rita’s Medical Center
  • Debbie Kalk, CEO and President, Reliable Medical Supply
  • Leigh Ann Matthews, Assistive Technology Professional, Complete Care Stores
  • Wendy Russalesi, Chief Compliance Officer, AdaptHealth

Donna Cady

Donna began her adventure in the HME world in July 2001 after a 13‐year career as a licensed optician and market manager. Looking for a broader medical field opportunity and challenge, she accepted a Customer Service Supervisor role with St. Rita’s hospital-owned HME, despite having no DME experience. Instantly hooked, in 2004 she moved to a role as an accounts receivable coordinator within the organization to better understand the billing side of the business. In 2006, Donna returned to the customer service department when St. Rita’s merged their two HME departments together and in 2011 became the manager. In 2015 Donna was promoted to director of the Mercy Health Home Medical and the director of the Mercy Health Home Infusion Services departments in 2018.

In 2011, Donna was named a “Legend” of St. Rita’s for her work in community service, including fundraisers for those in need and employee engagement. She currently sits on various committees within what is now Mercy Health St. Rita’s, serving as a passionate advocate for the Homecare departments. Donna will use any stage—including contests and community events—to promote and educate others about the industry. One such event is the American Heart Association’s Heart Chase, competing as “Home Medical Heroes” and taking first place three years in a row, as well as a first-place award in the poster challenge with a Wizard of Oz theme, “There’s no place like Homecare.” Donna also sets up a lottery tree drawing display outside the hospital cafeteria to provide educational information about the industry.

In 2018, Donna received the Mercy Health St. Rita’s “Connect to a Purpose” award for leadership skills and employee engagement. For the past several years, she has also partnered with a local college to administer a program for Respiratory students to rotate through the HME department for their clinical rounds so they can see the industry as a potential career option.

Outside of work, Donna enjoys spending time with her family and friends, crafts, music and sports.

Debbie Kalk

 

With a career spanning more than 38 years in healthcare, including over 21 years in the DME industry, it has always been Debbie’s goal to provide extraordinary leadership, creative problem solving, forward thinking ideas and operational excellence, while focusing on the customers’ needs, rights and health care access.

As the CEO and President of Reliable Medical Supply, Debbie recognizes the need to work with a top leadership team who shares the same passion she does in providing the best and most up‐to‐date comprehensive medical equipment and supplies while delivering the highest standard of customer service.

Known for her results‐driven, inspiring, authentic and innovative leadership qualities, Debbie empowers her management team and her staff, creating high performance cultures and winning teams. Her proven ability to drive results in different environments comes from her ability to shape a compelling strategic direction, build required capabilities and successfully execute.

Debbie is known for championing her employees and is proud to be leading a company that has been named a Top Workplace in the State of Minnesota for the past five consecutive years. Along with her business partners, Debbie looks forward to continuing to drive profitable revenue and growth without compromise of quality of care for the customer.

Leigh Ann Matthews

Leigh Ann Matthews, RN, MSN, CRTS, ATP, has been with Complete Care, Inc. in Fort Payne, Alabama, for more than 30 years.

After working as a clinical nurse in several areas, she obtained her Master of Science in nursing from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and worked as a nurse educator.

Since 2008, she has served as an Assistive Technology Professional at Complete Care, while also assisting customers and supporting the business by providing her expertise in reimbursement issues, patient education and the day-to-day business operations.

Outside of the business, Leigh Ann has served as President of the Alabama Medical Equipment Association for over 20 years. She also currently serves on the Region C Council, Region C POE Advisory Group, BCBS of Alabama Advisory Group, Alabama Medical Advisory Group and the Alabama State Advisory Council on Palliative Care and Quality of Life. Leigh Ann also volunteered her time serving on the Board of the Alabama Board of Home Medical Equipment for 12 years.

Leigh Ann is also involved in her community, participating in health fairs and local events. She is also involved in her church, serving on the leadership committee as church hostess and participates in mission trips.

Wendy Russalesi

Wendy Russalesi is the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) for AdaptHealth. As CCO, Wendy is responsible for the strategic direction, implementation and oversight of the company’s corporate compliance programs and ensures the business meets compliance requirements from the local, state and federal level.

Wendy started her career at a full‐service HME company, and over the past 20 years, has held a number of positions that have allowed her to evaluate and develop compliance programs for several HME companies. Through her experience and passion for compliance, she has become an advocate for the industry across congressional channels and trade associations.

With a focus on regulatory compliance, Wendy has amassed the experience and insight necessary to develop, implement and manage the corporate compliance needs of a rapidly evolving HME company that sits in an ever‐changing industry.

In her most recent role, Wendy has designed an enterprise compliance program that supports a $600 million operation and continues to increase the program’s scope as the business grows, incorporating a best‐of‐breed approach to achieving compliance excellence.

Wendy has served as a DMEPOS industry consultant, spent time as an ACHC DMEPOS surveyor and has served as executive director of the Jersey Association of Medical Equipment Services. She has participated in numerous trade association councils, the DME MAC Provider Outreach and Advisory Council, is certified in healthcare compliance and is an active member of the Health Care Compliance Association.

Meet the Honorary Selection Committee

The 2019 finalists were selected based on recommendations from an honorary selection committee.

Georgie BlackburnGeorgie Blackburn, Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs, BLACKBURN’S
A passionate advocate for improved healthcare policy, for over 10 years she has fought for a sustainable Medicare competitive bid program and coverage for complex rehab technology through building strong relationships with members of Congress. She has over 41 years of experience within the HME industry in several capacities. She has also served as treasurer and board director for AAHomecare and currently serves on its Complex Rehab and Mobility Council (CRMC). She is also the former chairman and member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Association of Medical Suppliers (PAMS), and for the past four years, served on the board of directors for the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART). In her community, she is an active member and board director for the Alle-Kiski Strong Chamber of Commerce, serving as co-chairman of its Government Affairs Committee and recently was appointed a board director for the HOPE Network of Greater Pittsburgh Area.

Liz Beaulieu, Editor, HME News 
Liz Beaulieu has covered the HME industry for more than 10 years. Prior to joining HME News, she worked as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Kennebunk, Maine. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maine and a master's degree in non-fiction writing from the University of New Hampshire. 

Rob Boeye, Executive Vice President, HME, Brightree
In his current role, Rob’s responsibilities include leading HME sales efforts, customer success, and revenue growth. Prior to joining Brightree, Rob spent 18 years with Invacare Corporation as a sales leader in both the home care and long‐term care markets, growing revenue annually in each of his positions. He also served in management roles at Abbott Laboratories. Rob has direct insight into the business challenges of post‐acute care providers, and he calls upon this experience to help them match their business needs with Brightree solutions.

Colleen HunterColleen Hunter, Owner, Browning’s Pharmacy and Health Care
Upon graduating from the University of Florida with her master’s degree in accounting, Colleen worked as a CPA. for several years before joining the family business in 1995. She is proud to have taken over ownership of Browning’s Pharmacy and Health Care in 2011. In 2017, they purchased a building in Winter Garden, Fla., and expanded their presence in the area by adding a retail store to their existing custom rehab business. Colleen also cooks meals for The Haven for Children, an organization in Florida that provides residential and therapeutic care for children who have emotional and behavioral disorders.

Todd Walling, Senior Vice President of Sales, Permobil, Business Region Americas
Todd has been with Permobil for 11 years and has held numerous positions, including regional sales manager and key accounts manager. Todd has worked in the rehab and assistive technology industry for 19 years and has been dedicated to improving the lives of people living with disabilities. Todd is constantly striving to find new ways to engage with consumers, providers, industry advocates, and referrals in the market. He sits on the boards for both American Association for Homecare (AAH) and the National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology (NCART). He is also a founding board member for the Permobil Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Permobil.