Munson Health
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - MHA Honors Leader of Frankfort, Kalkaska Hospitals

MHA President Spencer Johnson, left, presented James Austin, right, with the MHA’s Meritorious Service Award as Donna Austin looked on.


MHA Honors Kalkaska’s Hospital Administrator
James Austin receives the state organization’s highest recognition

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) recently honored Kalkaska Memorial Health Center’s Administrator James Austin with is Meritorious Service Award. Austin was among several individuals recognized this year for their positive influence on health care across the state. The awards were presented during the MHA Annual Membership Meeting held on Mackinac Island June 26 - 27.

Austin, who also serves as the president of Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort, was recognized for his quarter century of leadership in Michigan hospitals, his advocacy for rural hospitals within the state, and the example he provided in improving access to quality care in a rural community.

“I have been blessed to be able to serve the Kalkaska and Frankfort communities and help ensure residents in these areas have access to quality health care,” Austin said. “This is a great honor from the MHA, and I appreciate all the support from hospital staff members that helped each of these hospitals become success stories in their own right.”

Austin joined Kalkaska Memorial Health Center in 1989 and added Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital to his scope of responsibility in 1994. Under his leadership, both hospitals have been recognized for innovation, quality, and patient satisfaction.

Kalkaska Memorial Health Center opened the state’s first provider-based rural health clinic in 1991 and Austin led the Kalkaska and Frankfort facilities to become the first and second critical access hospitals in Michigan in 1999. The Michigan Quality Council has honored facilities, bestowing Lighthouse Awards in 2003 and Navigator Awards in 2004.

In 2004, Austin was the recipient of the MHA Healthcare Leadership Award, recognizing his successful efforts at Kalkaska Memorial Health Center to improve long-term care; diversify outpatient offerings by adding a cardiac rehabilitation program, cardiac testing and ultrasound, and expanding speech, occupational and pulmonary therapy; advocating for small health care facilities to obtain CT scanning equipment; and focusing on an organizational culture that delivers high-quality care, achieves exemplary patient satisfaction, and maintains a positive work environment.

In 2012, both Kalkaska Memorial Health Center and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital received the Best-In-Class Seal from HR Solutions for employee engagement scores that ranked in the top 2 percent of the firm’s customer database.

Earlier this year, Austin announced he will retire in February 2014. Hospital boards at both hospitals are reviewing succession plans and future leadership announcements are expected in coming months.