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Kerwin Receives 2008 Free Enterprise Award


George Kerwin, president and chief executive officer of Bellin Health Systems, Inc.George Kerwin, president and chief executive officer of Bellin Health Systems, Inc., received its 2008 Free Enterprise Award on Monday, May 5, in Green Bay. He is the 27th individual recipient of the prestigious award. Approximately 500 people attended the event.

The Free Enterprise Award recognizes people and organizations in Brown County that exemplify American free enterprise. "I'm truly humbled to receive this recognition. The past recipients are outstanding leaders, and I hope to carry that tradition forward," Kerwin said upon learning of his selection for the Free Enterprise Award.

Kerwin joined Bellin Health in 1971 as director of housekeeping and admissions shortly after graduating with a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame. His expertise and dedication led to numerous promotions throughout the organization with Kerwin becoming senior vice president and chief operating officer in 1986 and then president and chief executive officer in 1992.

His professional growth has paralleled that of the organization. During Kerwin's career, the hospital's cardiac program began, the school of nursing grew to become Bellin College of Nursing, and other entities were established including the Bellin Psychiatric Center and the Bellin Foundation. Bellin Health remains as the only locally governed acute care health care system in Brown County.

Under Kerwin's leadership, Bellin has not just survived the arrival of intense health care competition; it has thrived and excelled. The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce ranks Bellin Health as the area's sixth largest employer with a workforce of nearly 2,000.

Overall, Bellin Health Systems has more than 2,600 employees within its various entities throughout Northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Bellin Health features a network of 25 Bellin Health Family Medical Center primary care physician clinics and several retail health clinics known as Bellin Health FastCare. Bellin also operates Bellin Health Partners, a physician-hospital organization with 230 specialty physician members, and Bellin Fitness Centers.

Over the past seven years, Bellin Health has completed several construction projects including a $40 million hospital campus redevelopment project which began in 2001 and added a new boiler plant, two floors to the Van Buren Street wing, and four floors of new construction including a new entrance and lobby for the hospital. In 2006, the health system completed a state-of-the-art Sports Medicine complex. In late spring of 2008, a Cancer Center will open at Bellin Health's Ashwaubenon campus.

'What George has accomplished in his years with Bellin is inspiring," said Free Enterprise Award Committee Chair, and Rotary Club past president Diane Dappern. 'He is focused and passionate about Bellin and about quality health care."

Kerwin believes it is vital that people who come to Bellin Health receive care that provides the best possible outcomes for the patient and their family, while keeping the cost of care as reasonable as possible.

In addition to his passion for providing high quality health care, Kerwin is committed to developing an active and engaged workforce, along with forging partnerships with medical groups that benefit the communities Bellin serves. 'The success of an organization is never due to a single person," said Kerwin. 'This award is a reflection of the dedication and commitment of every employee, health care professional and volunteer who works with Bellin."

Kerwin also believes in serving the community by promoting active and health lifestyles. He was one of the founders of The Bellin Run in 1977 as a way to raise the awareness level of community members about the importance of fitness. Kerwin was the race director from 1977-1992 and continues to be involved. The 32rd run will take place June 14. The run proceeds go to fund scholarships for Bellin College of Nursing students who work in many area health care facilities as students and as graduates. In addition to the run, Bellin sponsors or co-sponsors many community events.

Rotary Club President Robert Hieronimczak said Kerwin exemplifies what's right about the free enterprise system.

'The health care industry is incredibly competitive, and under George's leadership, Bellin has stepped up to become a leader in quality, a leader in engaging employees and medical staff, and a leader in promoting community health," he stated. 'It's no surprise that Bellin Health Systems has been successful, because it's doing the right things for the right reasons."

Kerwin serves on numerous community boards and organizations, including Green Bay Packers, UW-Green Bay Founders Association, UW-Green Bay Business Advisory Council, and Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce

Kerwin and his wife, Kathleen (Kasha), have one son, Joshua, who is an architect in Chicago.

As part of the Free Enterprise Award, a $1,000 donation was presented by Kerwin to Options for Independent Living.