Mental health leader makes patients’ lives easier, safer

Ashlea McMartin goes above and beyond for compliance and patient privacy

Sanford Health care provider smiles and holds a tear-shaped crystal award in the clinic waiting room.

Ashlea McMartin, the director of behavioral health at Sanford Health in Bemidji, Minnesota, has been awarded with the health care system’s 2021 Compass Award.

The Compass Award, which is given annually to just one of Sanford’s 50,000-plus employees, is designed to honor those who have best exemplified integrity and excellence as part of the organization’s commitment to compliance, patient privacy, and overall safety.

Following her compass

Almost five years ago, when Sanford Health merged with the Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center in Bemidji, patient records needed to be transferred over to the Sanford system safely and privately. McMartin oversees those behavioral health programs and has helped spearhead that effort with true diligence.

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Her nomination included examples of how she works to do the right thing.

“With medical record releases, Ashlea has always been very open and honest about their difficulties and has gone above and beyond to seek clarification from compliance, risk, privacy and legal. She’s always looking to do the right thing and works hard on solutions that will work for her team as well as being in compliance with the state and federal laws,” said one nominator.

Another nominator said McMartin works with patients’ needs in mind.

“Ashlea and her team work with some of the most underserved members of our society, and people with complex mental health needs. Oftentimes when she’s reaching out to privacy, it’s because she’s seeking to make processes easier for patients. She also does a great job of balancing patient needs and the safety of her team. She’s a great leader who represents many of our values.”

Sharing the award

Upon receiving the award in a surprise ceremony in Bemidji, McMartin was quick to spread kudos to others in her department.

“We’ve all worked really hard in becoming part of the larger Sanford system. So I think just speaks volumes to everyone every day, for showing up and doing the right thing,” McMartin said.

Along with the Compass Award, McMartin was also chosen as a 2022 Sanford Brand Ambassador, an honor given to just 20 Sanford employees who embody the spirit of health, healing and service to which Sanford Health strives. McMartin and the rest of the Brand Ambassadors recently returned from a surprise trip to Austin, TX, as part of that experience.

How recipients are selected

For the Compass Award, Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society employees were asked to nominate a co-worker or leader who met these criteria:

  • Demonstrates integrity in their words and actions
  • Maintains an “open-door” policy
  • Takes accountability for doing the right thing
  • Admits mistakes and uses them as opportunities for improvement
  • Promotes compliance awareness
  • Goes above and beyond to fix a process
  • Prevented, detected or corrected a compliance error

Previous Compass Award winners include respiratory care manager Teresa Kershaw in 2020, clinic president Luis Garcia, M.D., in 2019, patient and financial services director Tony Morrison in 2018 and nuclear medicine supervisor Bill Beard in 2017.

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Behavioral Health, Bemidji, People & Culture