AHCA/NCAL Names CDC Professionals Recipients of the Champion of Quality and Pioneer Awards

Drs. Nimalie Stone and Ruth Link-Gelles Honored for Contributions to Long Term Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

AHCA/NCAL Updates; Awards and Recognition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has named Nimalie Stone, MD, as the recipient of the 2021 Mary K. Ousley Champion of Quality Award and Ruth Link-Gelles, PhD, as the recipient of the 2021 NCAL Jan Thayer Pioneer Award. Both currently serve at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and have played critical roles in helping long term care residents and staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Nimalie and Ruth were there at the CDC focused on long term care from the very beginning of the pandemic and have continued to be an invaluable resource,” said AHCA/NCAL President & CEO Mark Parkinson. “They recognized that our residents would be the most severely impacted by this crisis and dedicated themselves to bringing forth meaningful and life-saving solutions. Nimalie and Ruth provided the leadership, guidance, and partnership necessary to help keep our residents and staff safe and allow our providers to continue delivering the highest quality care. We are tremendously grateful for everything they have done.”     

Dr. Stone serves as the Senior Advisor for Long-Term Care Partnerships in the Prevention and Response Branch of the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. An experienced and empathetic leader, she was instrumental in coordinating federal and state strike team activities in long term care (LTC) facilities during the pandemic, providing ongoing and evolving guidance tailored for LTC providers to respond and contain COVID-19 infections. Her laudable work also extends beyond COVID-19. Her contributions to research, innovation, advocacy, performance improvement, and education have measurably impacted quality advancement for all LTC stakeholders, including residents. 

Dr. Stone will receive the Mary K. Ousley Champion of Quality Award, intended for an individual who has made significant national contributions to advancing quality performance in long term and post-acute care. Recipients display leadership in the development, promotion, and implementation of quality improvement initiatives that have resulted in measurable outcomes. 

Dr. Link-Gelles is a Doctoral Epidemiologist and was in charge of the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for LTC. Under her leadership, nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country had access to vital COVID-19 vaccines in just a few short months. She developed this program quickly and with very few resources, resulting in a tremendously successful, monumental public health program with life-saving results. She was also incredibly supportive of LTC, engaging with the community and always making herself available to stakeholders.

Dr. Link-Gelles will receive the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award, which recognizes individuals who have moved the senior care profession forward, positively affecting the lives of those served and those who serve. Recipients demonstrate dedication, leadership, and considerable contributions to the profession. 

Both recipients will be presented with their respective awards at AHCA/NCAL’s 72nd Convention & Expo in Washington, D.C. (held at National Harbor), October 10-13, 2021.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers, and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org.