Partners in Care, Partners in Hope (PICPIH) Award

The PICPIH Award is presented by the Family Advisory Council annually to an employee or health care provider in recognition of outstanding achievement and excellence in the core concepts of family-centered care. The nominees are chosen based on their demonstration of family-centered care in that they encourage patients and families to participate and collaborate in the decision-making process surrounding care. In essence, the winner each year exemplifies an employee who treats patients and families with dignity and respect. 

Nominations are open to all patients and families, and the selection of the winner is made by the Family Advisory Council Partners in Care, Partners in Hope Award Committee. It is truly remarkable that so many families and staff members took the time to express their gratitude and admiration for our health care providers and staff. Moreover, they also shared their very touching experiences through their nominations. Understandably, the review of the nominations continues to be a difficult process, and this makes each year’s recipient even more deserving. The deadline for nominations is typically each December. Nominate a standout staff member or team now! See award concepts and criteria below.

2022 Award Recipient – Benedict C. Nwomeh, MD, MPH

partners in care, partners in hope winner 2022

Pictured left to right; Rick Miller, President and Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Benedict Nwomeh, Surgeon; Joshua DB Kirk, Teen patient and winner of PICPIH; Toyetta Barnard-Kirk, Parent Daniel Kirk, Parent; Lee Ann Wallace, Senior Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer.


The 2022 Partners in Care, Partners in Hope (PICPIH) recipient is Benedict C. Nwomeh, MD, MPH from General Surgery. Dr. Nwomeh received his medical degree from the University of Lagos in Nigeria, and he holds a Master of Public Health degree from The Ohio State University. Dr. Nwomeh trained as a pediatric surgeon at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and joined Nationwide Children's Hospital 20 years ago.

As director of education for Surgical Services, he also oversees all the surgery educational and training activities at Nationwide Children’s. He is also the director of the pediatric surgery fellowship training program. He serves as the surgical director of the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Additionally, he is a professor of surgery and pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and vice-chair for global surgery in the Department of Surgery.

Nationally, Dr. Nwomeh serves on the leadership of several surgical societies and is the immediate past president of the Association of Pediatric Surgery Training Program Directors (APSTPD). Dr. Nwomeh is an advisor/mentor for numerous URM students/organizations and has helped advocate for a more diverse surgery (especially pediatric surgery) workforce. Dr. Nwomeh received the Nationwide Children’s 2019 Physician of the Year award.

“I was already diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at birth then I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at 12 years old. I tried many different medicines, but none seemed to work. Dr. Nwomeh was very kind to my parents and me. For my age, a 14-year-old boy, I have been through many hospital stays and treatments in my life. There are those that make lasting impressions, and Dr. Nwomeh is one of them. Dr. Nwomeh talked to my parents, but most importantly, he spoke to me. He explained every step slowly and carefully so that we could understand. He showed me pictures of exactly what he would do during each surgery; I had three surgeries. Dr. Nwomeh took the time to care for me. After each surgery, he talked with me in detail before the day of the surgery, and then he met with me during surgery which took 5-6 hours each time. He also listened to our suggestions and worked around his schedule to make more time for me. I was so thankful that he tried his best to make me comfortable. This surgery relieved so much pain that I was suffering from. I sometimes could not walk, and my legs and feet gave me so much pain when my parents drove me to school and picked me up; I could barely relax because of the pain I felt while sitting in the car. I remember going to an event my friend invited me to and could not enjoy the fun day because I later had discomfort.

Dr. Nwomeh visited me during admission and complimented my parents and me for my effort to recover. He ensured his team considered our feedback and treated me individually, not as another complicated IBD kid with chronic illnesses. Dr. Nwomeh and his team were kind and helpful in giving my parents more information and supplies if we ran low. This doesn’t express how much I am grateful for Dr. Nwomeh. I am so glad he was my surgeon. What would today look like for me if he did not provide the best care for me? But I will never forget him. It was great to experience the high-level care he provided me. Dr. Nwomeh listened, he cared, he explained things to me, he would set up an appointment on such short notice, he laughed with me, and he was honest. I felt special, cared for, and, most importantly, safe being his patient.”

Joshua DB Kirk

Past Award Recipients

2021 – Anne E. May, MD


The 2021 PICPIH recipient is Anne E. May, MD, from the Division of Pulmonary Medicine. She is also a member of the Cystic Fibrosis physician teams, where she is the Sleep Clinic's medical director. In addition, she is an attending physician in both Pulmonary and Sleep Medicines.

Dr. May completed medical school at St. Louis University School of Medicine. After this she pursued her pediatric residency in 2004 and then a pediatric pulmonology fellowship, both at Nationwide Children’s. We have been fortunate to have her on staff here since 2010. Aside from her fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine, she also completed a sleep medicine fellowship at The Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUCOM).

Dr. May is an assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University School of Medicine. She was awarded Nationwide Children’s Distinguished Pediatric Pulmonary Educator Award in 2016 and the Outstanding Sleep Educator Award from the OSUCOM Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program in 2020. Her research interests include sleep disorders in cystic fibrosis, mental health effects of cystic fibrosis, and its treatment. She has authored several book chapters on pediatric sleep disorders.

"Dr. Anne May saved my daughter’s life. It wasn’t in the way that you typically think when hearing that statement. She wasn’t the RT cutting off my daughter’s onesie to preform chest compressions when she coded, she wasn’t the medic bagging my daughter for over 20 minutes from our living room, and in the ambulance, to the ED. She wasn’t the doctor who first intubated my daughter, or one of the many that re-intubated her. She wasn’t there Eliza’s first night when things were so unable and uncertain that everyone feared there wouldn’t be a second night. She wasn’t even there for the first three weeks when I was told “we are still trying to figure out if we can provide her enough support that she doesn’t die.” Even without being present for any of those pivotal lifesaving moments, Dr. Anne May fully deserves to be recognized for all she’s done for Eliza.

Dr. May looked at my daughter and instead of trying to fit her lungs into a predetermined protocol, she recognized that Eliza needed an individualized plan of care. Dr. May not only provided that but ensured others did as well. She saved Eliza’s life by giving her a life. Eliza was able to come home, was able to play, learn to crawl and walk, then run. She’s been able to go to parks and the zoo, and has a life and a full life, because of Dr. May. And in that same regard, Dr. May has saved me as well. She always saw me as Eliza’s mom, always valued my opinions and thoughts. But more than that, she encouraged me to BE a mom. She made sure the little moments like me holding Eliza were possible. She placed value not only on how Eliza was doing medically but how we as a family were doing emotionally. One day in the PICU Dr. May sat down with me and told me she wanted to make sure I could get Eliza out of bed and hold her. I explained my fear and concerns regarding Eliza’s breathing, how any time I sat her up I could see fear in her eyes and then she’d go into distress and struggle to breath. Looking back, I’m sad to say I had accepted that was the way things would be, my daughter was going to stuck in her bed for a while. Dr. May listened. Later that night, as I was heading home, she went back to Eliza’s room. She sat Eliza up in bed and was able to see for herself what I had been trying to explain. She immediately called me, validated my concern and we discussed a plan for a resolution so Eliza would have the support she needed to be able to get out of bed, and get on a mat and play. It wasn’t just talk either, changes were made and within days I was getting Eliza out of bed and snuggling her.

That is just one of many moments where Dr. May has helped me to find the balance and ensured I never lost sight of what was important. It wasn’t the numbers on the ventilator, it was all those important inchstone moments. Moments every family gets but you only truly appreciate when they’re threatened or feel impossible. So, Dr. May not only saved my daughter’s life by giving it back to her, but she saved mine as well."

– Michele Schwerdtfeger

2019 – V. Rama Jayanthi, MD

Partners in care partners in hope 2019

Dr. Jayanthi and CEO Tim Robinson

The 2019 PICPIH recipient is Rama Jayanthi, MD from the Department of Pediatric Urology. He is Chief of the Department of Pediatric Urology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a Clinical Professor of Urology in the Department of Urology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He is also Chief of Pediatric Urology at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Dr. Jayanthi is a full time pediatric urologist with expertise in all aspects of the medical and surgical management of genitourinary problems including such diverse conditions as urinary tract infections, hydronephrosis, urinary incontinence, hypospadias and intersex conditions. He has a strong interest in multispecialty collaborative care for children with complex conditions as evidenced by his involvement in not only the KUTC but also CCPR (colorectal center).

"Our care from Dr. Jayanthi came before our son came home. We had "matched" with him during our long adoption process and had sent his medical records to the Adoption Clinic at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Dr. Chandrawarkar, knowing she was seeing something unique, connected us with Dr. Jayanthi. We were afraid of what we were reading on paper. We didn't know what the future meant for this little three-year-old that desperately needed a family. All we knew is that we loved the little boy that we met for a few short hours when we flew to India on a day's notice. But how we would care for him? Dr. Jayanthi met with us and laid it all out. He was honest, because of how unique our (now) son's condition was, we would be paving a new way for our son and that there were no certainties. He referenced evidence based research, which as a APRN I appreciated greatly. He spoke to the emotional well-being of our son, not just the physical and functional. At the end of our conversation he shared that he had immigrated from the same city and at the same age as this little boy was going to. It was only then that my husband and I were confident that we were where we needed to be and that this little boy, with the huge brown eyes (and eyelashes that I was envious of), belonged with us. Once home, Dr. Jayanthi continued to be a kind, compassionate, and holistic provider. Dr. Jayanthi advised that we should delay doing major operations until we had bonded with our son and he grew accustomed to his new life here. When we had to seriously delay treatment, due to my husband having minor CHD surgery and my education, he was kind and compassionate to our family as a whole. He has a bedside manner like I've never seen (as a patient or a provider). He respects me as an APRN, but is complete in his education and is sensitive to the fact that my husband is not in the medical field. He connects with our son by looking in his eyes, getting on his level, and occasionally speaking Telugu to him. On his first birthday with us, our son suddenly developed a kidney infection. Even though he was not the doctor on-call, he called the Nationwide Children's Hospital urgent care nearest to us and gave them detailed directions as to how to examine and treat him. Now that we've begun our operation journey, he continues to be honest and compassionate about the uncertain road forward. He is careful not to overwhelm our son with unnecessary exams and always asks if it's alright for other doctors or NPs to join him. With Dr. Jayanthi and the team he has formed for our son (We love you Dr. Richard Wood!) we feel confident that our son's care will be holistic, evidence based, loving, and patient-based. It is this kind of care that gives us the confidence to be the parents that our son deserves. Now our son has a shot at living a life that so many of us take for granted. Our son's condition may be one in thirty million (estimated), but Dr. Jayanthi is a one of a kind provider and person! We are so blessed by his care, as we are sure all of his patients are. I wish I could share our photo of him with our son! You can see the love for his patient in his face!"

– Heather and John Bruns

2018 – Anya Froelich, PsyD, BCBA, COBA


Jonathan and Kirsten Harberts, Dr. Anya Froelich and Allison Puchala. Allison created the artwork presented to Dr. Froelich.

The 2018 PICPIH recipient is Anya M. Froelich, PsyD, BCBA, COBA. She is a psychology supervisor in the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Her clinical work is focused on Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention, social skills groups, and psychological assessment. She also serves as the Director of Training for CASD, overseeing the Trueman Fellowship in Autism Treatment and Autism Treatment Track for Nationwide Children's APA accredited internship in professional psychology.

"Words cannot sometimes adequately express the impact Dr. Anya Froelich, Clinical Psychologist, has had on my two sons and on our family. My oldest son, Benjamin, was diagnosed in 2014 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and has been under Dr. Anya’s care since then. She immediately assisted us in attaining early intensive behavioral interventions (EIBI) for Benjamin while receiving professional guidance on navigating Benjamin’s pathway to recovery. Her personal commitment was incredible in assisting us in coming to terms with the diagnosis and what level of support Benjamin would need. She graciously answered all questions we had pertaining to home centered applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and thoroughly explained why this was going to be the best option citing research, data, and explaining Benjamin’s psychological evaluation.

A few years later we were delighted and excited about our newest arrival, our second son, Elliott. My husband and I had high hopes that our son would be typical developing. By the end of 2016, however we began to have concerns. We shared a series of videos and emails showing my younger son’s behavior. After a series of emails and conversations, Dr. Anya gently guided us into coming to the conclusion that Elliott would benefit form a thorough evaluation at the CDC and instantly ordered Elliott’s diagnostic testing. This was probably one of the most difficult periods in our life. I felt as though we were reliving all the anxiety and emotional turmoil that we had gone through with our first son’s diagnostic process. The worst Deja Vu experience, as we were waiting in agony for a doctor to deliver difficult news. We had lived the journey of autism with Benjamin, and enjoyed the tour guide, but the realism of the complexity of Benjamin’s behaviors had set in and if he would ever be able to live an independent life. We were trying to envision our new found life and reality with Benjamin and Elliott potentially being diagnosed and how it would change our family. Dr. Anya was there for us every step of the way, whether we needed information pertaining to Elliott’s diagnostic process or just needed someone to emotionally partake in this difficult journey.  

To make a long story short, Elliott was also diagnosed with ASD a few days before his second birthday. I can only imagine how it must feel for a doctor to deliver a difficult diagnosis; however, having to deal with the emotions of a family and treatment recommendations for a second time certainly adds another layer of complexity. But every once in a life you here a few simple words that give you encouragement to move forward, like a few sunrays that are able to break through thick clouds. As I fearfully stepped into the meeting room, Dr. Anya simply looked me in the eyes and stated with confidence that I could do this a second time. Dr. Anya dealt with my family with such empathy, grace, and encouragement.  She was extremely supportive during this difficult time and we owe her a tremendous amount of gratitude for her personal emotional investment, parent education, and professional guidance that we have personally received during this time.

Dr. Anya deserves the highest recognition for her personal commitment in the treatment of my sons in the early intensive behavioral intervention program and for her outstanding dedication to assist a family with two siblings affected by ASD. She was able to make treatment more accessible to us by arranging back to back weekly team meetings at the CASD and by allowing collaboration across teams to provide support specific to our family. She also instituted sibling play that allows for collaboration of behavioral intervention aides and treatment of our sons together for designated period of times. Under her leadership, Benjamin and Elliott have both made tremendous progress in the cognitive, social-emotional and communication domains. Dr. Anya’s dedication to the field is remarkable as she is knowledgeable of all theories, methods, and innovative strategies to assist our sons with ASD. She has went above and beyond to advocate for our sons in the community, whether it would be participating at an IEP meeting, conducting an observation in the community, or accompanying my family to a difficult doctors visit. Benjamin and Elliott lead a more functional, happy, and overall better quality of life as a result of Dr. Anya’s treatment recommendations."

– Kirsten and Jonathan Harberts

2017 – Mohamed Abdelbaki, MD

Dr. Mo with Tim, Jennifer, and their son Kaden

Tim, Jennifer and their son, Kaden, presented Dr. Mo (center) with the award. 

"April 27, 2016 was officially the worst day of my life and also when I met one of the most wonderful individuals I have had the pleasure to know. While in PICU, in the door came Dr. Mohamed Abdelbaki, with what seemed like a swarm of people. Over the next two hours, which seemed like an eternity, he explained and told us what no parent ever wants to hear, “your child has cancer.” I often tell him now that after meeting him that day, it is the only day in my life that I felt like someone hit me across the face with a two by four board. I literally could not walk because my legs were shaking, I was weak from exhaustion, and I was scared and devastated. I was a total mess.

I knew very little about cancer and really nothing about childhood cancer. Everything was new, overwhelming, and everywhere I looked for answers I found devastating information. Dr. Mo, as we call him, was by our side giving us information, consulting with other hospitals and experts, re-explaining things because we were overwhelmed with information, and he also allowed me to interrogate him with a million questions. Everything at the beginning moved so quickly but Dr. Mo was always there. He provided us with resources, research and data as we made decisions together, and even introduced me to other parents having had the same experiences that we would be facing. Never once has he ever allowed us to feel like we were a number or that he had to come and go quickly. We have always felt like our son is his number one patient.

As Kaden has progressed through 6 months of treatment, Dr. Mo has been available like no other doctor I have worked with. He responds to my emails immediately and communicates important information to us within minutes of finding it out himself. Recently, we were able to take our son home for a few days. Within 24 hours, he was being rushed to a hospital near our home. I was in Columbus and emailed Dr. Mo right away. Immediately he called me to get more information on the situation. He contacted our hospital and arranged for med flight to get Kaden to Nationwide Children’s. Not only did he take care of my son but me as well. He knew I was driving, again I was a crying mess, and he knew I couldn’t get to Kaden quickly. He called me several times to update me on the situation and what was going to happen which calmed me and allowed me to get to Nationwide safely to wait for Kaden to arrive. After Kaden got to Nationwide, Dr. Mo was in contact with us and even looking at his scans and information from his home, late into the night. Of course, the next morning and several days thereafter, we saw Dr. Mo bright and early.

I am so grateful for all Dr. Mo has done for our family. He is by far the best doctor I have ever had. He has an attention to detail beyond most doctors, he is knowledgeable, works collaboratively with us and the team, he makes us laugh, he is honest about possibilities, and also provides a demeanor that is calming and reassuring. I have trusted this man with my most prized possession, my son’s life. While we love many of the doctor’s at Nationwide Children’s, I believe whole-heartedly that there is no other doctor that provides the quality of care as Dr. Mo. I will be forever grateful to him for guiding us through this experience with care, compassion, and with love for our son."

– Tim and Jennifer Allerding

2016 – Melissa Chung, MD

partners in care partners in hope 2016

"Our family would like to nominate Dr. Melissa Chung and her team of fellow neurologists for the Partners in Care, Partners in Hope Family Advisory Council’s Award of Excellence in Family Centered Care. Dr. Chung and her team of fellow neurologists became a permanent part of our lives on March 27, 2015 when an MRI revealed that our nine year old daughter had an extremely rare and very deadly disease known as MoyaMoya Disease. From our first meeting with this team, we have been presented with our daughter’s care plan in a compassionate and caring way that has always made us feel that our daughter is as precious to them as she is to us.

I (Chloe’s mother) am a speech-language pathologist who had the advantage of taking some neurology classes in college. Although I do not work for National Children’s Hospital, my opinion not only as a speech language pathologist but also as a parent has always been encouraged, welcomed and incorporated into the decision making process. This has helped us feel that we are an equally important part of Chloe’s care team.

The wealth of knowledge and information shared with us had made this challenging time in our lives less stressful. We have always been informed as to what to expect and what the “back up” plan would be. Dr. Chung along with Dr. Jeffrey Leonard, saw that the prerequisites leading to surgery moved quickly as her MoyaMoya disease was quickly progressing. Thankfully, Chloe underwent brain surgery 1 month to the day of discovering that she had this deadly disease. Without this quick action, our daughter would have experienced a full blown stroke that could not only rob her of her quality of life but her life itself.

As we continue to move forward, we continue to feel as equal members of our daughter’s care team. We also appreciate that Chloe herself has been included in the care team. She is always encouraged to ask questions which has helped Chloe have a sense of some control over a situation in which she has little control.

We would also like to mention that Dr. Chung has even gone above and beyond not only by visiting Chloe on her own personal time just to say “Hi” (if Chloe has been admitted to nationwide Children’s Hospital through another department) but also by personally returning most phone calls herself when we have a question. She has also been a strong advocate on Chloe’s behalf when encountering staff members that have had less exposure to MoyaMoya Disease. When you see your child’s face light up in times of adversity because of the sight of Dr. Chung or one of her many “friends”, the feeling you get is beyond words- and when your child wants to dress up as and be Dr. Chung for Halloween, it is even more priceless!

It has been an honor to have the opportunity to nominate a well-deserved employee and her team for the Partners in care, Partners in Hope Family Advisory Council’s Award of Excellence in Family Centered Care."

– Randy & Michelle Christman

Core Concepts and Criteria by Which Nominees Are Judged

  • Dignity and Respect – Health care practitioners listen to and honor patient and family perspectives and choices. Patient and family knowledge, values, beliefs and cultural backgrounds are incorporated into the planning and delivery of care.
  • Information Sharing – Health care practitioners communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that are affirming and useful. Patients and families receive timely, complete, and accurate information in order to effectively participate in care and decision-making.
  • Participation – Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose.
  • Collaboration – Patients and families are also included on an institution-wide basis. Health care leaders collaborate with patients and families in policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation: in health care facility design; and in professional education, as well as in the delivery of care.

Partners in Care, Partners in Hope Award is given at the Annual Employee Recognition Dinner and Awards Ceremony in January. Nomination forms are available throughout the hospital, may be downloaded in a printable form for mailing, or can be completed online.

Recipients will receive a beautiful piece of artwork designed and created by a local artist.

Selection will be by the Partners in Care, Partners in Hope Award Committee composed of patients, caregivers, family members and select staff members.