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UNMC to honor two during commencement ceremony

Robert Kadlec, MD, and Shannon Engler

Robert Kadlec, MD, and Shannon Engler

The University of Nebraska Medical Center will honor two individuals during its May 7 Omaha commencement ceremony.

Awardees include: an invaluable partner to UNMC’s continued efforts to lead the world in biopreparedness, high-consequence infections research, education and clinical care; and a Nebraska leader who has been a collaborator and advocate on behalf of Nebraskans who are most fragile and disenfranchised, as well as those who strive to serve them.

Robert Kadlec, MD, is honored with the Honorary Doctorate of Science degree for distinguished service to UNMC. Dr. Kadlec served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2017 through January 2021. While there, Dr. Kadlec was the secretary and principal advisor for U.S. federal government preparedness and response leading into and during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Kadlec, and the office of ASPR, turned to UNMC’s Global Center for Health Security as the only non-military center to assist in quarantine for American citizens repatriated from Wuhan, China, in the earliest days of the pandemic. This same collaboration resulted in the Global Center for Health Security, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine quarantining and isolation-treating Americans rescued from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The efforts shined a national spotlight on UNMC, and the resulting data helped UNMC investigators conduct world-leading research on methods of transmission, clinical trials in treatment, and the re-use of personal protective equipment.

Shannon Engler, senior director of behavioral health services at Bryan Health, is honored with the J.G. Elliott Award for his decades of service to his fellow Nebraskans, most notably in health care, including mental and behavioral health. Engler’s work has improved behavioral health and addiction services, and access to them, within the Bryan Health clinical enterprise, regionally and statewide.

Engler has worked on legislation and served as a consultant to hospital and behavioral health service leaders across the state. Through his insistence that mental health patients have distinct needs, he helped create and maintain Nebraska’s first behavioral health emergency department.

Through the concept of "telehealth triage," he broadened the service to others, allowing Bryan’s mental health emergency department social workers to also provide assessments to emergency departments at 11 hospitals across the state.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he led the effort to maintain access to 100% of inpatient behavioral health beds at Bryan Health and the construction of an outpatient telehealth service for patients.

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care.

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