Outstanding employees honored for embodying MUSC president's Values in Action

February 09, 2021
woman holding trophy
Dr. Cassandra Salgado was one of two recipients of the special "impact" award for this year's Values in Action awards. Photos provided

At MUSC, values are respected throughout the organization.

And during the pandemic and these unprecedented times, MUSC employees have proved themselves, some beyond measure, that they can be responsive, innovative and collaborative working with others.

Marking its fifth year, MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, and first lady Kathy Cole are praising the work and commitment of exceptional employees with the President’s Values in Action awards. The awards honor remarkable employees who exemplify MUSC’s five values: compassion, innovation, integrity, collaboration and respect.

In a new action, the Coles created a special category to complement Values in Action – the Impact Award. This award will not be presented annually but awarded during rare occasions to an individual or individuals based on their exceptional work, dedication and values that uniquely impact MUSC and the greater community.

The 2020 awards recognize five employees who have demonstrated the five individual values, plus two individuals who have gone above and beyond in their work, devotion and inventive contributions.

For the Coles, rewarding these recipients is heartfelt and meaningful, as they are actively involved in every step of the process from reading nomination letters to presenting the awards – albeit virtually due to precautions around the pandemic.

“Values are the fabric of our institution and the basis for how we move forward and accomplish our mission and purpose – to provide health innovation for the lives we touch. All seven of these award winners represent the heart and soul of our institution, and I personally am, and I think all of us are, very grateful for their hard work and dedication,” said Cole.

The 2020 Values in Action winners are:

Compassion – Carolyn Page
Innovation – Satish Nadig, M.D., D.Phil.
Integrity – Sorin Teich, D.M.D.
Collaboration – Iggy Pla
Respect – Tonya Hazelton
Impact – Cassandra D. Salgado, M.D., and Michael Sweat, Ph.D.

woman holding trophy 
Carolyn Page

Page was awarded the Values in Action award for Compassion. Page is no stranger to working and responding to the needs of students. For more than 30 years, she has worked with students and served as assistant dean of students in the College of Nursing since 2018. Cole presented the award to her during a virtual Jan. 7 college executive leadership council meeting.

In her nomination letter, College of Nursing colleague Cathy Durham, DNP, assistant dean for graduate practice programs, praised Page’s attributes as the epitome of kindness and servant leadership, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic year. As the university had transitioned to online learning, Page served on the university task force and shared expertise on the College of Nursing’s online practices and provided input on developing policies and procedures for exposures and quarantine during the pandemic. She worked closely with students who tested positive and were quarantined – helping and guiding them and communicating with faculty preceptors and family members as needed. She also shepherded students who lost family members during COVID – supporting them in their grief – so they could continue with classes.

“Thank you so much – I’m so overwhelmed,” said Page. “It has been a group effort, and all I can say is that I love our students, our faculty and dean. Go College of Nursing!”

man holding trophy 
Satish Nadig, M.D. D.Phil.

Nadig, who won the award for Innovation, said he shares his award directly with colleagues in the Center for Cellular Therapy and other collaborators at MUSC. The award was presented to him virtually during a Jan. 21 Department of Surgery Research Council meeting.

An immunology researcher, transplant surgeon and head of MUSC’s COVID-19 antibody testing task force, Nadig was recognized for being an instrumental leader in developing an in-house COVID-19 antibody test and saliva test as an alternative to the COVID-19 nasopharyngeal testing at MUSC.

Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Medicine and director of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, wrote Nadig’s nomination letter for the Values in Action award.

“Dr. Nadig pulled together an outstanding interdisciplinary team to begin important work to develop an in-house antibody test. That team was able to deliver on the task within three weeks by utilizing the combined basic science, clinical skills and knowledge of its members. The validated COVID-19 antibody test produced by this team provided a key tool for MUSC with respect for our ability to develop sufficient testing capacity for our community and state. We are indeed very fortunate to have an outstanding clinician-scientist-leader like Dr. Nadig to help collaborate and do innovative work and lead those teams during the global pandemic.”

“I’m extremely humbled in this award. It’s important for me to say that this is really a huge team effort. I want to share this award with Dr. Shikhar Mehrota and the full team. This award is a mirror of what our institution can do in leveraging all the abilities that MUSC has and responding during a pandemic. Thank you, I appreciate this very much,” said Nadig.

man at desk with trophy on desk  
Sorin Teich, D.M.D.

Teich is the Value in Action award winner for Integrity. At a Dec. 8 virtual James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine staff meeting, Dean Sarandeep Huja, D.D.S., Ph.D., read his nomination and introduced Cole to present the award. Teich is a professor and associate dean of clinical affairs in the college. 

“Last March, the college set up a task force consisting of Teich and our associate deans and infection control officer. The largest impact of the pandemic was on our clinical enterprise for the college. During those initial months, I would call and talk to Dr. Teich and the task force daily and on weekends. He demonstrated both integrity and commitment through his role that went above and beyond. He and Dr. John Comisi led multiple divisions of our code and infection control policy and its implementation. This documentation was distributed nationally to other dental institutions as they navigated similar issues early on during the pandemic,” wrote Huja. Teich was also instrumental in acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for the dental clinics, coordinated COVID testing protocols for patients and staff, and reviewed air circulation and air flow in the clinics to ensure a safer environment.

“Thank you Dr. Cole and Dr. Huja. I’m humbled and honored to receive this award. As Dr. Huja mentioned, it really was a team effort. Thank you very much,” said Teich.

The Values in Action award for Collaboration went to Iggy Pla, director of hospital facilities maintenance, MUSC Health Facilities Management. Pla was recognized for his leadership, dedication and responsiveness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, converting existing facilities to meet necessary criteria to treat and care for inpatients and support the needs of health care teams and staff.

man holding trophy 
Iggy Pla

David Zaas, M.D., MUSC Health chief clinical officer and the Charleston Division’s chief executive officer, applauded Pla’s efforts. “Iggy made Herculean efforts seem effortless as he collaborated with our executive team, doctors, nurses, quality teams, perioperative and environmental safety staff and others to meet the demands of our new reality. His positive attitude and ability to inspire his team to rise to the challenge was instrumental in meeting the hospital’s needs.”

“Thank you,” said Pla. “It’s been an interesting seven months. I’m glad we pushed through it and can now say we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t have done this on my own and really appreciate everyone’s support. I can’t thank our team enough.”

Tonya Hazelton is the Respect Values in Action award winner. Hazelton is a study program coordinator in the College of Nursing and is an active member of the college’s diversity and inclusion council and diversity committee since 2016.

woman holding trophy 
Tonya Hazelton


Susan Newman, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Ph.D. in Nursing Science Program, praised Hazelton for leading several diversity and inclusion initiatives within the college, including an awareness campaign featuring a selfie contest, focus groups to raise morale and campuswide brown bag events, such as the Diversity in Openness Talking Series or DOTS, to address social justice and other initiatives. She’s been recognized for helping to create a more safe and welcoming environment for sharing diverse perspectives on sensitive topics. “The college is fortunate to have her as a member of the MUSC family. Mrs. Hazelton is the very person that this award seeks to honor, as she consistently goes above and beyond and puts the value of respect into action to promote diversity and inclusion,” wrote Newman.

“Thank you to everyone – my MUSC family – on this call,” said Hazelton. “I’m so surprised and humbled. Thank you for your support, as I can’t do anything without true leaders, and that’s all of you. Thank you also, Dr. Cole.”

The inaugural Values in Action Impact awards were presented to Salgado and Sweat in a January virtual call. Nominations for both honorees were written by DuBois.

“Dr. Salgado has been at the front lines at our organization’s planning and response throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She has served as an outstanding example of MUSC’s culture and values throughout this journey. As director of the Division of Infectious Disease, she and her team have risen to the challenges of this pandemic and have tirelessly engaged on behalf of this institution in ensuring that we are meeting the needs of those we serve. This is met ensuring we are addressing questions and concerns of our workforce with compassion and cognizant of the pressures that we face in our front-line providers and other care team members with respect to appropriate PPE and safety protocols, risk of infection and the like. Dr. Salgado has served as a trusted advisor to many across the organization from members of our board of trustees to physicians and front-line employees throughout this stressful time, and she has done so with the utmost patience, integrity and compassion. We are so very grateful to her and the team that she leads for all their incredible work,” wrote DuBois.

man at desk with trophy on desk 
Michael Sweat, Ph.D.

“I’m completely emotional about this award,” said Salgado. “Thank you for thinking of me. It’s silly to say, but it’s my job, and I’m really grateful to be here at a time when MUSC needed me. MUSC has been there a lot for me – both personal and professional. I’m just glad to give back.”

Concerning Sweat, DuBois wrote “Through his leadership in MUSC’s COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project, Dr. Sweat and his outstanding team of collaborators have provided frequent and reliable updates to MUSC leaders and employees, government and business leaders, as well as members of the general public, regarding COVID-19 trends and impacts to our community. These efforts have helped to ensure that we are facing this challenge with the most reliable verified information to help informed decisions that we are making within our organization and to also help decisions made by others around our state. We are so very grateful to him and his team for their dedication to this important work.”

“It has been an incredible year. Thank you, Drs. Cole and DuBois. I feel we’re at a precipice with the COVID-19 vaccines. We have a lot of hard work to go, and I look forward to continuing with that. It’s what I’ve trained for and has been an amazing opportunity for me and my team,” said Sweat.



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