Selleck, Wallace are 2020 Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame inductees

Selleck helped expand health care to underserved in Alabama as associate dean; Board of Visitors member Wallace founded Springhill Memorial Hospital and Southern Medical Health Systems

Photo: Cynthia Selleck & Celia WallaceTwo members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing community are 2020 inductees to the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of UAB School of Nursing inductees to 12.

Former UAB School of Nursing Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships Cynthia Selleck, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Board of Visitors member Celia Wallace, will be honored at the 2020 Awards Luncheon on September 26, 2020.

“Every two years, the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame recognizes 12 outstanding individuals who have advocated for and left their mark on health and health care in the state of Alabama,” said Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN. “We are proud to see Cynthia Selleck and Celia Wallace recognized for their dedication to education and health care in the state, as well as their commitment to the UAB School of Nursing.”

Cynthia Selleck began her career at UAB in 1981 as an assistant professor of nursing and graduated from the UAB School of Nursing with her PhD in 1987. She worked at the University of South Florida College of Nursing for 23 years before returning to UAB as Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships in 2010.

Throughout her career, Selleck’s grant writing efforts provided more than $30 million to expand care for underserved populations across Alabama. She successfully wrote the original grant application for Alabama’s first-ever statewide Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in collaboration with UAB’s School of Medicine and became its program director in 2012. This developed and increased interprofessional training for primary care health professions throughout Alabama, improving the diversity, distribution and quality of the healthcare workforce in the state. She also expandedand co-led the Birmingham VA Nursing Academic Partnership - a collaborative, mutually beneficial program between the School and the Birmingham VA Medical Center (BV AMC) to educate compassionate, highly skilled nurses to look after the health care needs of our nation's Veterans.

Selleck also started several nurse-managed clinics to meet the needs over underserved populations in the Birmingham community and worked to integrate behaviorial health into these clinics to address the mental health connection to chronic disease management. This included UAB’s Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) Clinic, a collaborative initiative between the School of Nursing and UAB Health System, which has served more than 10,000 diabetes patients since opening in 2011, as well as School’s primary care clinic, originally located at the Foundry in Bessemer, which has evolved into a federally qualified health center known as The Bessemer Neighborhood Health Clinic in partnership with Cooper Green Mercy Health Services and Aletheia House. She also played an instrumental role in bringing a licensed Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program to Central Alabama that partners nurses with high-risk, vulnerable first-time mothers and has significantly improved maternal/child health outcomes across a three-county area.

Selleck received UAB’s 2018 Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award and is currently professor emerita, having retried in 2018.

“Cindy dedicated her career in nursing to caring for and improving access to care for uninsured, underserved and vulnerable populations across the state. She built health care delivery systems for the underserved while simultaneously providing excellent educational and practice opportunities for UAB School of Nursing faculty and students to deliver safe, state-of-the-art primary care to those who need it most. These contributions toward sustainable solutions continue to strengthen our community and grow our partnerships among a variety of agencies toward our goal of achieve health equity for all Alabamians.

“Her efforts have left a lasting mark on UAB, its School of Nursing, the community and state, and have provided the foundation for expanding educational and clinical partnerships, grant-funded efforts and more to impact health care and access for uninsured, underserved and vulnerable populations- a hallmark of UAB SON,” Harper said.

Celia Wallace’s entry into the health field came through her love of the sciences and her education as a radiological technologist at University Hospital, now UAB Hospital. She and her late husband, Gerald L. Wallace, M.D., shared a vision to bring a non-traditional, forward thinking hospital providing quality care to the Mobile, Alabama area. In 1975, they founded Springhill Memorial Hospital, now Springhill Medical Center (SMC), which has quadrupled in size and remains the only family-owned hospital in the area, supporting the community with nearly 2,000 jobs, $2 million in tax revenues and thousands of dollars contributed to community-based social service programs annually.

After her husband’s death in 1986, Wallace selectively grew SMC to provide patients with some of the most advanced technology available. She went on to form Southern Medical Health Systems, which includes billing services, health clinics, wellness facilities, physician practices, and senior living and rehabilitation. In 1995, Wallace received the Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award from the American Association of Preventive Oncology for her national leadership in smoking cessation.

A strong advocate for innovative, quality nursing education, she joined the UAB School of Nursing’s Board of Visitors in 1999 and established an endowed support fund to benefit the School’s Undergraduate Nursing Honors Program in honor of her son Lee and daughter Kristen.

“Through her more than 20 years of service on the Board of Visitors, Celia has shown her commitment to nursing and interprofessional nursing education to span the boundaries of health care,” Harper said. “Through the Endowed Fund for Nursing Undergraduate Honors, in honor of Kristen Celia and Gerald Leon Wallace Jr., she helps the School support and craft the next generation of nurse leaders and scientists who will go forth and improve health and health care in our state and worldwide.

“Celia’s generosity of spirit for the Honors Program has accelerated the career paths of countless nurse leaders whose impact is seen in the discovery, application and integration of nursing knowledge across Alabama’s health care systems and beyond. Recognition of her vision and commitment to developing talented nursing students and building innovative healthcare systems and leaders is a testimony to her sustained leadership in this state,” Harper added.

The Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame was established in 1997 and includes inductees from all health care professions.

“No other not-for-profit health care organization in the country honors a wide range of health care professionals including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, scientists, administrators, educators and related fields,” said Dennis Stanard, president of the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame. “It is this special camaraderie that has endeared the organization to thousands of professionals and family members.”

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