The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has named a veteran Christiana Care Health System employee as a 2014 Triumph Leadership Award recipient.
Kathy Westhafer, RHIA, CHPS, manager of enterprise data management for the Department of Information Technology, was selected for the award in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments as a valued and trusted leader in the field of health information management, according to a release from AHIMA.
Westhafer joined Christiana Care 25 years ago as the operations director in medical record management and later spent 15 years as the director of health information management services. Since 2005, she has worked in the Information Technology Department. When the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) was looking for health information management expertise, she helped establish and chair its Health Information Management Committee, a position she continues to hold.
Along with her work at Christiana Care, she has been involved with and has held leadership roles in the AHIMA Health Information Exchange Practice Council and the Delaware Health Information Management Association, the state branch of AHIMA.
“I worked in health information management for many years, but I chose to move to IT to get involved in things that I saw as being at the forefront of transforming health care and the information around health care,” she said. “I really feel very fortunate to be able to get involved in moving Christiana Care’s medical records forward. I’ve been involved in the transition from paper-based to electronic-based medical records, and making sure that what we are creating electronically addresses privacy, security and other regulatory requirements.”
In her spare time, Westhafer has dedicated nearly a decade to helping establish a health information management associate’s degree program at Delaware Technical & Community College. The program’s first class graduated in May.
“For years, I was the health information management director here at Christiana Care, and we always really had a need for qualified health information management professionals in Delaware,” she said. “Del Tech started a certification program for health information management coding and asked me to be on the advisory board. In that role, we started talking about how the profession was growing, and how we really needed more than a certificate; we needed people with a degree and more background. I got involved in helping to develop curriculum. We worked close to a decade to get this funded and established, so it’s been wonderful to see it finally come to fruition.”
Westhafer was one of three people given the Leadership Award during the annual AHIMA Convention & Exhibition, held Sept. 27 – Oct. 2 in San Diego