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Employee Awards

Altru Health System recognizes the dedication and hard work of its physicians and staff through Altru Achievement Awards and the Robert M. Jacobson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Altru Achievement Awards are peer-nominated and given to employees who exemplify the values of Altru Health System, commit to serving others, and go above and beyond their everyday responsibilities

The Robert M. Jacobson Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made ongoing and lasting contributions, enhancing the culture and services provided by Altru Health System.


Altru Achievement Award

Heidi Collison works in human resources as a recruiter. She is fiercely committed to delivering the Altru Promise and goes out of her way to serve others. On a number of occasions, Heidi has “taken job applicants under her wing” and brought them to successful employment. She developed the Altru Shadowing Program 22 years ago, which has opened doors for countless students and professionals. Heidi has also played an integral role in the Mission Physician Program, a series of summer camps introducing and attracting rural high school students to health care careers. Heidi’s drive, dedication and follow-through make her an excellent member of any team. We are proud to call Heidi one of our own.

Robert M. Jacobson Lifetime Achievement Award

Compassionate. Selfless. Calm. Deeply intelligent. One in a million. These are just some of the ways Dr. James VanLooy’s peers and patients described him.

Dr. VanLooy graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit in 1974. After completing his residency at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, he joined Grand Forks Clinic as a pediatrician in 1977. Later, he served as chief of pediatrics for both Grand Forks Clinic and United Hospital, director of the neonatal intensive care unit and, in 1985, president of Grand Forks Clinic. In 1997, he became the chief medical executive of Altru Health System, serving for 15 years until his retirement in 2012.

Described as the “nicest guy you’ll ever know,” Dr. VanLooy treated everyone from patients to nurses to fellow providers with the utmost respect and kindness. Before it was even popular to say “the patient always comes first,” Dr. VanLooy said it, believed it and exemplified it. He was a role model to others, not only in the way he practiced medicine, but in the way he lives life, approaching each day with gentle, quiet determination.

A patient, caring and open-minded leader, Dr. VanLooy was always interested in hearing nursing staff’s thoughts and ideas. During his time, he greatly improved and developed the nursery. It wasn’t uncommon for Dr. VanLooy to start his days at 4 a.m., first checking on his littlest patients in newborn nursery.

Among his many contributions to Altru and the field of medicine, Dr. VanLooy introduced the electronic medical record and promoted its use to physicians and staff. This change improved accuracy, boosted efficiency and continues to transform the way care is delivered today.

Dr. VanLooy left behind a detailed, well-thought review of medical staff bylaws and policies. He helped bring Altru to what it is today, a seamless organization working together and moving in one direction with one mission, one vision and one goal.


Altru Achievement Awards

Carma Hanson is the coordinator of Safe Kids Grand Forks. Her tireless dedication to the program has kept children safe through increased community knowledge and awareness of wheeled sports, child passenger, farm, fire, pedestrian and water safety. One of the most visible programs in the Greater Grand Forks area are monthly car seat check-ups, which ensure proper installation and use of car seats. Hanson’s leadership, passion and determination have been recognized on local, regional and national levels.

Marlys Pester is the activities coordinator at Parkwood Senior Living. She is known for the positive attitude she brings to work every day. Her enthusiasm for the residents is displayed through the activities she plans for them, including monthly bluegrass sessions, bingo, resident parades, educational presentations, exercise classes, crafts, baking and jelly-making sessions and more. Most recently, flower beds were built for the Parkwood residents so they could plant flowers and vegetables. Pester makes Parkwood a place families can call home.

Robert M. Jacobson Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. John Lambie graduated from Central High school in Grand Forks in 1946. He spent the next two years at the University of North Dakota before transferring to North Dakota State University where he earned a degree in agriculture. He then entered the Air National Guard, before returning to Grand Forks to farm. He went back to school at UND to pursue a degree in medicine before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in internal medicine, graduating in 1958. He interned at Pennsylvania Hospital and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Michigan.

In 1962, Dr. Bob Painter encouraged Dr. Lambie to return to Grand Forks to join him at the Grand Forks Clinic, and he did. Drs. Painter and Lambie worked with 18 other physicians to contribute a quarter of a million dollars of their own money to purchase the property that would be Medical Park. The physicians then donated the land to the hospital and sold the remaining parcels, at their cost, to other providers who located their facilities on Medical Park.

During his years practicing medicine, Dr. Lambie credits the introduction and use of intensive care units and cardiac monitoring as two of the most significant medical innovations still in use today. In 1979 he witnessed the first total body CT scanner become operational at United Hospital.

Through all the advances in medicine, Dr. Lambie continued to practice with the same goal in mind – always do your best for your patients.