Celebrating Ruth Grotzke and her legacy
NAHAM President, 1978-1979
It is with much sadness that we share the news of the passing of Ruth Grotzke, a founding member of NAHAM as well as a Past President of the organization and previous winner of both the Marian Blankenship Distinguished Service Award for significant contributions to the field of patient access services and the Carl Satterfield Award for exceptional work for NAHAM. Ruth helped make NAHAM what it is today and inspired many of us along the way. Below, some NAHAM volunteers share their memories of Ruth. If you would like, you can sign the Guest Book commemorating Ruth by clicking here
"I have been a NAHAM member since 1985 and Ruth was one of the first members to reach out to welcome me – back in the days of no email, etc. – she called me long distance and followed up with a nice card in the mail. In 1989, I attended my first NAHAM Conference in Seattle, and was able to meet her in person and stay in touch over the years."
Donna Aasheim, CHAM
Director, Patient Access Services
University of Washington Medical Center
"Ruth was a role model for me when I first went into this business over thirty five years ago. She was also a founding member of the Chicago group and was always available for anyone who needed help. I called her often in the early days to get advice. I first met her in 1978 when I attended my first NAHAM conference in New Orleans. There was a major rain storm; the hotel was flooded. As president she was out there, talking to folks and making it all work for the attendees. To quote Pete Kraus 'she is truly an important touchstone for NAHAM and should be remembered.'"
Brigham & Women's Hospital
"Ruth was not only a pioneer in our profession but one of the kindest, most elegant people that ever graced my life. I met Ruth way back in 1981 when I attended my first HAMA (the original Illinois affiliate of NAHAM). I was so new to Patient Access and proud that I 'thought' of a new concept – Pre-Registration. In a round table discussion, I proudly announced my new creation to the group, not realizing that Pre-Registration was nothing new! Afterwards Ruth came up to me to thank me for contributing my thoughts (never saying, "MY, this is NOT NEW!”) and inviting me to become more active in the group and our profession.
"From Ruth and Mary Barclay’s encouragement I served as President of HAMA, as well as a Board Member of NAHAM, some years later. Ruth remained a strong advocate of our profession and a role model for those of us who came after her. I will always remember her kindnesses to me and to others, as well as her elegance and poise. I hope those that did not know her will pause to thank her for her many contributions to NAHAM and our profession. She was a great lady and a great friend!"
John Woerly, RHIA, CHAM, FHAM
Accenture Health Practice
"Ruth operated in the early years of NAHAM, when the organization was run 100% by officers and board with variable but often significant help from regional organizations. Members could be very vocal, even with things beyond leadership control, such as rainstorms of near biblical proportions in New Orleans. To preside effectively under such circumstances took all the leadership qualities we expect today plus some pretty extraordinary 'people' skills, not to mention the ability to remain unflustered come what may. Ruth had these in spades. Ruth was on her way to retirement when I became active with NAHAM. I don’t know much about her career outside of NAHAM, but it’s too bad many of us didn’t get to know her better."
Pete Kraus, CHAM, CPAR, FHAM
Business Analyst, Patient Financial Services
Emory University Hospital
"NAHAM board meetings in the early 1980’s could be challenging. No one really listened because they were too anxious to speak. That is, everyone but Ruth. She took it all in and then came forth with a cogent, rational approach to an issue which addressed everyone’s concerns. You could hear a pin drop when Ruth spoke because everyone respected her views and thoughtfulness. Ruth was a role model for all future Board members and officers. She was one classy lady."
Michael J. Taubin
Nixon Peabody LLP
"I was very sorry to hear about Ruth. I still remember the first time I saw her - in Portland at the convention that year-many years ago. What I remember was her charm & grace that she conducted herself. She was very efficient so dedicated to NAHAM. In those early years everyone on the board had to be dedicated to goals of the organization and she stood for NAHAM even when she was retired. She came to all the meetings and was so interested in all that was going on. I remember so well when she was President - she was a mentor to many of us and I so wanted to be just like her and how she conducted herself in any situation. She will be remembered!!"
Char Overfield, RN