Feb. 25, 2004 Rodney Miller broke down in tears when it was announced on Wednesday that he had been chosen Rotary Club II of St. Thomas Person of the Year. He passed a handkerchief over his eyes several times as Rotarian Elliot "Mac" Davis recounted the many reasons Miller was this year's choice.
"The hospital has long aspired to achieve accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations — the gold standard for excellence in health care facilities in the United States," Davis, Person of the Year Committee chair and award recipient for 2002, said. "Our recipient had barely unpacked his bags before he set to the task of preparing our hospitals for the process of meeting that standard."
Miller, who has been on St. Thomas for a little over a year and a half, is the chief executive officer of Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas and the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center on St. John.
The hospital received accreditation from JCAHO this year under Miller's watch –something the facility had pursued for 40 years.
Miller, the 24th recipient of the prestigious award, is the first relative newcomer to receive the honor. But although a short-time resident, he hit the ground running.
Along with accreditation, Miller achieved much more, Davis said. He transformed "aging physical plants with demoralized staffs into gleaming facilities where a team of proud professionals save lives and seek to restore good health to all who pass through their doors."
Visibly moved and surprised, Miller made his way to the podium, stopping to hug members of his staff and board including Amos Carty, the hospital's chief operating officer, and Beverly Chongasing, its former board president.
Holding the traditional Person of the Year Don Quixote "trophy" tightly, Miller said: "This is not about me. This is about we."
Miller's previous honors include having been named by Ebony magazine as one of its 30 leaders of the future, and named Health Care Executive of the Year 2002 by the National Association of Health Services Executives. "I've been recognized for a lot of different awards, but there's nothing like being recognized at home, by your own," he said Wednesday.
"The V.I. always gets the best of me," he said in describing his surprise at receiving the Rotary award. He was lured to the event — whose recipient is traditionally kept secret up to the last minute — believing the honor was going to Chongasing, who he later said deserved the recognition as much as he.
Miller spoke of the warm welcome he received by the community upon his arrival in May of 2002, saying that "people reached out to us with love."
After thanking his staff and board as "the folks who are carrying out the mission every day," Miller choked up again, saying, "My wife, Veronica, she's the special one. She stands up beside me, supports me and doesn't take any of the credit."
He extended an open invitation for the community to visit the hospital. "If you haven't been there recently, come. I'll give you a tour."
Previous Person of the Year honorees are: Wilbur "Bill" LaMotta, Albert Aubain, Gov. Roy Schneider, Costas Coulianos, Calvin Wheatley, Dr. Alfred Heath, Gov. Alexander Farrelly, Irvin "Brownie" Brown, Delegate Ron de Lugo, Dilsa Capdeville, Athniel "Addie" Ottley, Judge Verne Hodge, Leona Bryant, Edward Thomas, Juel Molloy, Vinnie Mohanani, Sen. Lorraine Berry, Nick Pourzal, Randy Knight, John P. DeJongh Jr., Shaun A. Pennington and LaVerne Ragster.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.