HALLMARK HEALTH employee and Melrose resident Patricia Strehan-Cheema receives the Employee of the Year Award from president and CEO Alan Macdonald.

Published in the March 3, 2017 edition

MELROSE — Hospitals thrive on more than exceptional medical care. Many behind-the-scenes efforts keep the heart of the hospital beating.

Last month, Hallmark Health recognized one of its unsung heroes at the Employee of the Year celebration at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Patricia Strehan-Cheema, a Melrose resident for 16 years, was named 2016 Employee of the Year among a pool of 12 outstanding candidates. The honor is awarded annually to the employee who most strongly embodies Hallmark Health’s cornerstones of achieving excellence: People, quality, growth, service and fiscal responsibility.

“Pat is absolutely a star,” said Nancy Cloutier, director of health information management, her direct supervisor. “She constantly thinks outside the box, looking for ways to improve our work and our patients’ experiences.”

“This is a truly humbling experience,” Strehan-Cheema said after receiving her award. “There were a lot of unbelievable employees that were highlighted this year who do incredible work to enhance patient care.”

Strehan-Cheema is the kind of person who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, and the impact she makes is largely backstage in the hospital’s operations. She specializes in harnessing data to improve operational processes that in turn improve employee and patient experiences.

Strehan-Cheema is responsible for managing Hallmark Health’s online hospital portal, where patients can access their medical information, test results and medications.

“We offer it to patients while they are here in the hospital and after,” Strehan-Cheema explained. “I’m kind of an ambassador to help patients get connected to an important service to manage their health.”

She is also responsible for the master patient index database, which enables the organization to maintain comprehensive, consistent patient records across all its electronic systems. Overall, Strehan-Cheema’s work allows Hallmark Health to provide accurate and robust medical information across the network of services and offer a secure way for patients to access their records.

On top of her keen analytical skills, Strehan-Cheema is invested in doing work that is meaningful. She came to Hallmark Health six years ago after a long career in the financial industry.

“I wanted to make a change and do something important to me,” Strehan-Cheema said.

Strehan-Cheema’s initiative; drive to improve services for patients and staff; and endless willingness to help others have contributed to many organizational successes. In her past roles, she worked on the formation of the Hallmark Health Breast Health Center in Stoneham and created a yearly cardiology schedule at the Cardiac and Endovascular Center at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.

“Constantly on my mind is how we can improve,” she said.

Strehan-Cheema is also an active member of Hallmark Health community teams and has volunteered more than 100 hours at local events.

“What motivates me are the people here – the patients and staff. Everyone is so kind and giving. It’s a wonderful organization to work for,” she said.

At home, Strehan-Cheema’s family is supportive and proud. Her 17-year-old son, Noah, got a kick out of the timing of the award, which was announced while the New England Patriots were holding their Super Bowl victory parade in Boston.

“He said, ‘Mom, you got MVP!’” Strehan-Cheema recounted.

The honor of being Employee of the Year comes with a cash award and extra paid time off. Strehan-Cheema plans to replace her smartphone and to take extra time off to enjoy her son’s high school graduation before he heads to college next fall.

“I want to thank everyone for their well wishes,” said Strehan-Cheema. “It’s nice to know that I’m having a positive effect.”