2020 Departmental of Health Administration and Policy Young Alumni Professional Award

Hazel LonewolfThe 2020 Young Alumni Professional Award for the Department of Health Administration and Policy goes to Hazel Lonewolf, DrPH, MPH!

Dr. Hazel Lonewolf is a 2005 MPH and 2015 DrPH alumna of the Hudson College of Public Health. Dr. Lonewolf has been a staff member at Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) for over thirteen years. She currently serves as Chief Quality Officer, overseeing the Department of Quality and all quality activities of the organization. 

Dr. Lonewolf started her career at OKCIC early in 2007 as an Epidemiologist. As quality initiatives grew and the Quality team grew in number, she was promoted to Director of Quality. Continuing her educational pursuit, she earned her doctorate and was later promoted to Chief Quality Officer. Dr. Lonewolf serves as the Chair of the Quality Improvement Committee at OKCIC. 

A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma (LOK) Class 31, Dr. Lonewolf has travelled the state connecting with other community leaders whose commitment to service and excellence will help energize all Oklahomans to help positively shape our future (mission of LOK). She also serves as a member of the Oklahoma City Area Office IHS Institutional Review Board (IRB), helping to provide human subjects research protections to American Indian patients. 

Dr. Lonewolf served on the OQF (Oklahoma Quality Foundation) Board of Examiners for three years before moving on to become a national examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which she did in 2018. When she began her service, she introduced the Baldrige framework to OKCIC, which eventually led to OKCIC becoming an OQF Leadership in Excellence winner in 2018. This achievement qualifies OKCIC to apply for the MBNQA, which Dr. Lonewolf submitted in early 2020. 

In 2013, Dr. Lonewolf implemented the Care Bear Recognition Program that morphed into the ConnectFour Employee Recognition program. ConnectFour is a system that allows OKCIC staff members to recognize other staff members for demonstrating one or all the core values of OKCIC. 

Also, during 2018, Dr. Lonewolf worked with Human Resources to create and implement a quarterly performance evaluation process that encourages feedback throughout the year, rather than only once per year. At this same time, she helped establish production measures for every department/individual within the organization. These measures were used as part of the performance evaluation process and tied back to a strategic initiative or core value. Another improvement effort initiated in 2018 by Dr. Lonewolf is LEAN/Six Sigma training. In 2018, OKCIC began the process of conducting initial LEAN/Six Sigma training with every staff member. LEAN/Six Sigma will be used for organization-wide process improvement efforts.

A crowning accomplishment of Dr. Lonewolf and the QI team is the introduction of a PDSA Fair. Once all staff members were conducting PDSAs, Dr. Lonewolf wanted a “showplace” for staff members to share their PDSAs with other staff members. In January 2017, the first annual PDSA Fair was conducted. In 2018, OKCIC invited and hosted community members, leaders from OKC Area Office, and other Indian Health Services/Tribal/Urban Indian Healthcare facilities in the Area. This is a tradition that will continue after the positive feedback received from visitors. Even though the fair started as a way to keep staff member informed of best practices within the organization, it quickly became evident that there was a great deal of value in sharing these projects with leaders outside of OKCIC to allow for the ideas to spread and add value to other organizations. 

Through Dr. Lonewolf’s leadership, OKCIC’s Quality program has evolved into something that has an Area Impact. Through the development and sharing of best practices, OKCIC is able to positively impact care across the Area and sometimes the nation. Dr. Lonewolf’s forward-thinking strategy for quality improvement has been life-changing to OKCIC as an organization and as a leader in healthcare. Dr. Lonewolf’s work not only support’s OKCIC’s mission, vision and core values, but also IHS’s mission to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level. For all these reasons, in 2019 Dr. Lonewolf was the recipient of the Area Director’s Individual Area Impact award. 

Dr. Lonewolf has volunteered her time at Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Oklahoma Quality Foundation, and the State of Oklahoma’s American Indian Community of Practice as well as the Constitutional Committee for the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. These qualities of volunteerism and leadership through example allow her work to expand beyond her own direct actions organizationally, regionally, and even nation-wide to fulfill the OKCIC’s vision “to be the national model for American Indian health care.” 

Here are a few excerpts from her nomination letters: 

It is not only her professional accomplishments, though they are many and most-deserved; but also her personal characteristics including being peerlessly principled, highly professional, and incredibly inspiring as a co-worker and leader.

OKCIC is proud of our robust Quality program, with integration throughout the organization; the overall success of the program lies squarely upon Dr. Lonewolf’s leadership. She will tell you that it was all a team effort, and it is true that she needs a team of people to help achieve all that she has. However, it is her leadership and insight that has been the driving force behind improvement efforts of OKCIC.” 

Dr. Lonewolf is hardworking, creative, of exceptional integrity, and highly intelligent. But above all else, it is her servant leadership and mentorship abilities for guiding others through her example of quality and professionalism which sets her apart from her peers. She unselfishly volunteers her time, talents and resources into strengthening community organizations, as an advocate for those most vulnerable and the underserved.” 

Please help us congratulate Dr. Hazel Lonewolf for this well-deserved award.