Healthy Hall Awards 2022

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Healthy Hall Awards of Excellence spotlight those in the healthcare industry in Gainesville-Hall County making a significant impact on our quality of life through excellence in health and wellness. A luncheon honoring award recipients was held March 2nd at Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, recognizing outstanding professionals in nearly a dozen categories.  The event was presented by Northeast Georgia Health System.  The keynote speaker was Georgia native Dr. Devin Vicknair, a Behavioral Health specialist with Northeast Georgia Health System and CEO of Cognitive Behavioral Health, a private practice.

2022 Healthy Hall Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement
Frank Lake, MD
, retired, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group

Dr. Frank Lake served as medical director of Radiation Oncology at Northeast Georgia Medical Center since 1975, retiring in December 2021.   Dr. Lake truly devoted his life to helping others. His model of providing compassionate patient care, always putting patients’ needs first and his kind and thoughtful leadership will continue to live on and guide those who have been fortunate enough to work with Dr. Lake. He readily embraced even the most difficult oncology patient challenges. His insight, intellect and compassion were always apparent through the care he provided. He served throughout his career guided by his heart. Dr. Lake is admired by his patients, fellow physicians, NGHS staff and hospital leadership who he has worked with over these many years.  Dr. Lake also served as the medical director for Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Hospice Services for many years. He was always a strong patient advocate. His patient care extended beyond radiation treatment, through the patient’s healing or hospice care, to the end of life. His empathy for what a patient was going through was always clearly visible. Dr. Lake was available to his patients 24/7 as he often gave them his cell phone number and told them to call when they needed him. He was known to answer patient-related phone calls after hours and even on vacation. He addressed patient needs for comfort in their times of greatest need.  While we all continue to recognize him for his greatness, he has always remained humble and self-effacing, offering accolades to others over himself.

Visionary Leader
RK Whitehead, Whitehead Die Casting
Chair, Northeast Georgia Health System Board of Directors

For almost a quarter of a century, RK Whitehead has faithfully served Northeast Georgia Health System in various roles, including chairman of the NGHS Board for six years (2016-2021).  RK has advised, counseled, governed and led the Health System with integrity, wisdom, compassion and a genuine sense of service.  RK truly believes in the principle that NGHS is a community asset to be responsibly stewarded by both management and our community board leadership.  His leadership has perhaps never been more important than during the last two years, as our community has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 virus. Through RK’s direction and leadership, a Community Stakeholder Coalition (the hALL IN Coalition) was established to focus on related community health disparities and efforts to support the total health and economic well-being of the community, despite the impact of the pandemic. RK has played a critical role in the growth, development and success of NGHS through transformation of the Gainesville campus as well as the Braselton, Barrow, and Lumpkin locations.  He also played a key role in NGHS establishing the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Program that will provide a legacy for education and patient care access for generations to come.

Community Impact
Will Schofield and Jeremy Williams, Ed.D.
Nurses of Hall County School System and the City of Gainesville School System

Both Will Schofield and Jeremy Williams have shown tremendous leadership over the last two years in the COVID pandemic. They realize the importance of in-person learning for our children and have worked tirelessly to be sure the kids could return back to the classroom in a safe environment. Both Hall County Schools and the Gainesville City School System have formulated a more robust and aggressive approach to mental health issues. Will and Jeremy have remained extremely involved in our community and maintained transparency about their decisions throughout the pandemic, keeping the best interests of all our kids in mind.

Community Impact
Chuck & Diane Stephens
Northeast Georgia Health System Hospice

In November of 2021, Chuck and Diane Stephens announced their decision to pledge $5 million dollars to the Northeast Georgia Health System Foundation to be earmarked for a dedicated hospice house in our community. The Foundation will be raising an additional $5 million to help the Stephens’ vision become a reality. This gift means that NGMC will be able to serve even more hospice patients than before in a dedicated facility. So many families in our community will benefit from the generosity and kindness shown through this wonderful gift and we are honored to recognize its impact today.

Dentist of the Year
Joe Weber, DMD
Weber Family Dental

A Gainesville native, Dr. Joe Weber, has dedicated his entire career to providing the best care for those in his own community. He works to always stay up on the latest technology and advancements in the dental field. The practice is celebrating its 30th Anniversary, and Dr. Weber and his family are remain active in the community and love giving back, especially with Thumbs Up Mission, an organization that provides support for families dealing with cancer. Weber Family Dental provides comprehensive dental care for people of all ages and with a variety of needs all in a family-friendly environment.

Physician of the Year
Marti Gibbs, MD
Longstreet Clinic

Dr. Marti Gibbs is the model of what a servant-leader is supposed to be.  She has long made a positive impact on patients and fellow physicians at Longstreet Clinic—and across northeast Georgia—in a wide variety of ways, beginning with her commitment to quality care. She is a board-certified family medicine physician and is currently serving as Longstreet’s President and Governing Board Chairman—the first woman to hold the position in the Clinic’s 26+ year existence. Dr. Gibbs has lead the way through the pandemic and has been recognized for the excellence of her approach and leadership abilities by being selected as a “Top Doctor” by Atlanta Magazine for six straight years. Since joining Longstreet Clinic in 2001, Dr. Gibbs has focused on providing the absolute best in healthcare and improving care practices however possible. Her leadership has helped Longstreet earn and maintain the prestigious designation from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Advanced Practice Provider of the Year
Jennifer Butler, FNP-C, OCN
Longstreet Clinic

Jennifer Butler is the provider you want taking care of you when life is toughest. She truly cares about her patients and considers them family, going above and beyond to give them the highest level of treatment. With her focus in oncology, Jennifer meets patients in some of their darkest hours– she does all she can medically, but also leads a cancer support group and organizes outings for her patients and loved ones to create memories for a lifetime. In 2020, spearheaded a cancer genetics screening program with the aim to evolve and improve oncology care throughout our region. Her attentiveness and compassion stretch beyond her normal working hours as seen in her commitment to serving on the boards for Glory, Hope, and Life and many other nonprofits.

Outstanding Achievement in Behavioral Health       
Northeast Georgia Health System Behavioral Health Services

Northeast Georgia Health System offers several behavioral health programs for our community, including an inpatient treatment facility, Laurelwood, as well as the psychiatric and behavioral health practices of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, and other community-based initiatives. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NGHS has expanded its capabilities to meet the ever-growing demand for behavioral health services. These efforts have been led by Adam Raulerson, manager of inpatient and community behavioral health services for NGHS. Additionally, the NGHS Employee Assistance Program has extended these services to community partners such as the Gainesville City and Hall County fire, police and sheriff offices.

Healthcare Worker of the Year
Jesse Gibson, MBA, BSN, RN
Trauma Program Manager, Northeast Georgia Medical Center

As a leader, Jesse Gibson understands that her team and partners are essential to a successful trauma system. Jesse has the talent to tap into others’ strengths and enables her team to partner with stakeholders giving them a platform for growth and personal/professional development. Jesse is passionate about improving the health of the community and serves on several hospital and is a part of community workgroups at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Jesse understands the overall goal to improve trauma care. Her leadership, knowledge, and dedication to the trauma community make her an excellent recipient of this award.

Nurse of the Year
Ashley Belfance, RN, OCN
Longstreet Clinic

When it comes to healthcare, Ashley Belfance is ready for anything. Whatever the situation calls for, Ashley has the skills, know-how, and drive to meet it head on and find the optimal healthcare solution. She works hard as a passionate hands-on nurse as well as office manager for Longstreet’s Cancer Center, ensuring everything is in its place and that the physicians, nurses, and staff have what they need to succeed. Detail-oriented and well-educated, Ashley has proven herself as someone the clinic can count on no matter the need. As stated by one of her physicians, her professional maturity is exemplified day-in and day-out in her management role.

 Nurse of the Year
Katie Copeland, RN
Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic

Katie Copeland has 35 years of healthcare experience that have shaped her into the positive, hard-working caregiver and administrator that she is today. As Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic’s newest Clinical Services Director, Katie walked into unprecedented challenges during a pandemic. She stabilized clinical staffing, greatly reducing turnover and improving morale. She is a joyful force, able to rally a team and manage complex aspects of healthcare while maintaining her deep standard of excellence and providing top-notch care to all of her patients. Katie inspires, making people feel cared for and deeply valued…whether they are a patient, colleague, staff member or a stranger.

Corporate Achievement/Innovation
Georgia Poultry Federation

The Georgia Poultry Federation works hard to protect the interests of the significant poultry industry in Gainesville- Hall County. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Federation began facilitating discussions about establishing best management practices to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.  They have created and maintained open communication with the Georgia Department of Public Health and District 2 Public Health throughout the pandemic and worked with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Emergency Management Agency to deliver over 100,000 face coverings to area poultry companies. As vaccinations became available, the Federation worked with the Department of Public Health and poultry companies to order vaccines so that they would be available at the workplace.

Healthcare Education
Zachary Taylor, MD, MS
District 2 Public Health

Dr. Zachary Taylor is the District Health Director for the North Health District, District 2, based in Gainesville. Dr. Taylor is also the interim health director for North Georgia Health District, District 1-2, based in Dalton. He has worked to educate the community on pressing health concerns, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has ensured District 2 Public Health facilities were equipped to handle COVID testing and vaccinations to protect the surrounding community. He worked tirelessly staying up-to-date with research and concerns to keep the public informed of the latest data and best practices in times of chaos and confusion. His efforts have made a tremendous impact in North Health District.

The Healthy Hall Awards of Excellence 2022 Program was presented by Northeast Georgia Health System.

Healthy Hall 2022 Sponsors:
Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic
Gainesville Eye Associates
Lanier Technical College
Longstreet Clinic
Northside Hospital
UNG College of Health Sciences & Professions


The 14th Annual Chamber Chase 5K & 2 Mile Wellness Walk returns to beautiful Lanier Islands.  An expected 1,000 will meet on Thursday, March 24th (6pm) for fun and fitness as 5K runners and spirit-filled walkers enjoy this lakeside race.  The event promotes community wellness with dozens of company-sponsored teams.   Awards for the fastest team, most spirit, fastest CEO, and fastest community team create excitement.  The Chamber Chase 5K has become one of the community’s most successful wellness programs.  Sign your company up as a team, and promote employee wellness!  Register now:

The 2022 HealthSmart Wellness Expo is Wednesday, October 5, 2022 at Lanier Technical College and will feature free community health screenings and some 60 exhibitors. 

For more on Greater Hall Chamber Healthcare Initiatives, contact Ellie Parker, Project Manager, Economic Development Division, 770-532-6206 x 111.