Clinical Excellence Awards


2023 Clinician Excellence Awards

PVA Healthcare Summit + Expo
Renaissance Orlando at Sea World Resort in Orlando, Florida
August 14 – August 17, 2023

The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Clinical Excellence Awards recognize and honor peer-nominated care providers who demonstrate clinical excellence amongst their professional peers and embody quality values in the care of individuals with Spinal Cord Injury or Disease (SCI/D), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Award winners will receive an all-expenses-paid conference package (registration, hotel and travel expense) to attend the 2023 PVA Healthcare Summit + Expo, at the Renaissance Sea World Orlando Resort, where they will be formally presented with their award.

There are many excellent care providers in the SCI/D System of Care… WE WANT TO RECOGNIZE THE BEST!

2023 Clinical Excellence Award winners

Physician/Nurse Practitioner
Award Carol M. Gibson-Gill, MD, MSCS, VHA-CM
Chief, Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Service (128)
Director, VHA Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence NJ Regional Hub
Director, ALS Program Director, SCI/D,MS and ALS Clinical Research Program Chair, Medical Records Committee
VA New Jersey Health Care System
Faculty, PM&R Dept, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

“The best advice I have ever gotten was to go work for the VA… I have spent my entire medical career caring for our Veterans with SCI/D, MS and ALS, and I am so proud to be a part of the VA family… I appreciate PVA for this award and their accountability. They continue to hold me and all my fellow clinicians accountable for what the VA says we should do and to exceed what is expected of us. It keeps us all sharp and it keeps us going.”

 - Dr. Carol Gibson-Gill

Praise for Dr. Carol Gibson-Gill

  • In the numerous nominations we received for Dr. Gibson-Gill, several words were echoed countless times: Compassionate. Generous. Innovative. Trustworthy. Empowering. Warm. Steadfastly dedicated.
  • In her decades of practice devoted to advancing the care of Veterans with SCI, MS, and ALS, Dr. Gibson-Gill has provided direct care to Veterans and their caregivers, caring for them across the continuum – including in-person visits in their homes. Her model of care, which she named the “Triangle of Healthy Caregiving,” includes evidence-based, seamless interdisciplinary comprehensive care, education for Veterans and their Caregivers, and improved access to care in order to promote the highest quality of life possible.
  • Dr. Gibson-Gill has demonstrated the complete embodiment of what it means to be a Whole Health Leader in integrative medicine. She is always promoting wellness and creating a supportive environment. Her model of care has led to consistently great outcomes and satisfaction from Veterans, their families, caregivers and staff, and she regularly checks in with Veterans and caregivers to ensure she is meeting them where they are on their health care journey.
  • Dr. Gibson-Gill’s pioneering leadership made East Orange one of the first SCI/D Centers to fully engage Veterans with MS and ALS. The East Orange SCI/D Center’s Whole Health focus is deemed as model of Best Practice. It includes a robust Caregiver Support Program, virtual care program, and numerous wellness activities, from Wheelchair Yoga and Horticultural Therapy to cooking classes, and more.
  • Dr. Gibson-Gill is the acupuncture provider and Whole Health trainer at the Center, which increases her access to care for patients who often suffer from neuropathic pain.
  • Dr. Gibson-Gill also put together an interdisciplinary team to focus on monitoring at-risk Veterans with uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes. They developed a system to track, monitor, and send reminders to the IDT. The system also collects bloodwork, analyzes data, and tracks trends. This program has led to measurable, sustained improvement in outcomes, which is reflected in improved lab results and the overall health of enrolled Veterans.
  • She is also a valued member of the American Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, the Infectious Diseases Society of New Jersey, the North Jersey Medical Society, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red, Go Red for Women.

Therapist Award
Cheryl Colantonio, COTA
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
James A. Haley VA Medical Center

“Oh wow… thank you PVA and thank you to all my fellow clinicians that had so many nice things to say about me. I am here for our Veterans (with SCI/D, MS, and ALS). When I see a need, I try to fix it for them. You know, I just love working with them – they are all so great.”

 - Cheryl Colantonio,

Praise for Cheryl Colantonio

  • Cheryl has worked for over 20 years at the James Haley VA SCI/D unit, and is dedicated to Veterans with SCI, ALS, and MS. Most of the Veterans with SCI/D are on a first-name basis with Cheryl, and her colleagues know that she is fully committed to creating innovative and custom adaptive device solutions to meet the needs of all Veterans.
  • Cheryl’s tenacity and superior problem-solving abilities have made a life-changing difference in many Veterans’ lives. She recognized that independent hydration in some Veterans with SCI/D was a significant and challenging problem due to water pitchers and cups often being out of reach, so she created a self-righting hydration cup holder for hospital beds, which keeps the water pitchers safe and in reach for patients with upper extremity paralysis or weakness. She even collaborated with the Richmond VA rehabilitative engineers to have her device 3D printed, received a grant, and has won several showcases for her self-righting hydration cup holder. Because of her innovation, most patients can adequately hydrate without asking for assistance, increasing their independence. Cheryl is currently working with engineers to have her device mass-produced and delivered to other VA Medical Centers for use.
  • Cheryl has created other pieces of adaptive equipment designed from everyday items found in the Clinic, including cell phone holders, made from lanyards and splinting materials, that prevent phones from falling; customized Shoe Donners; C-Pap compatible Head pointers; skin protection devices, like ear pillows, customized leg lifters, and foam neck support collars; tracheostomy-compatible water shields, and more.
  • Her devotion to Veterans with SCI/D has made her a true pioneer in the ever-advancing world of adaptive equipment. Veterans and families that are fortunate enough to encounter Cheryl benefit from the life-changing equipment she creates with her own hands.

Nurse Award
Shawn Gallups, MSN, RN
Resident Assessment Coordinator/MDS
Spinal Cord Injury & Disorders Unit
Hampton VA Medical Center Social

“Receiving this award amplifies my gratitude for the opportunity to work with PVA. I am really proud of the work we do and I want to show my appreciation to the amazing Veterans that we get to take care of everyday. They are the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met.”

 - Shawn Gallups

Praise for Shawn Gallups

  • Shawn systematically applies the nursing process to improve Programs and outcomes not only in the Hampton Long-Term Care Center, but also at the national level as well.
  • As Chair of the Hampton VA’s Shared Governance Nursing Council, Shawn guides and supports staff to implement numerous programs which optimize care for their residents, including starting a long-term care resident and nursing work group, and creating a transitions of care program to address gaps and deficiencies in care.
  • Shawn compiled comprehensive educational materials on topics like: AD; manually assisted/quad cough; bowel and bladder management; skin care and pressure injury prevention; and more. She then delivered the organized materials to staff at each inpatient unit where residents are transferred. She also created Veteran Preference Cards, which described each Veteran’s specific level of injury as well as their functional abilities, adaptive equipment needs, bowel care program needs, wound care needs, and any other unique needs or preferences they have.
  • Shawn also took on the existing structure of the Inter Disciplinary Team Care Plan Meeting (IDT) and elevated it to a Best-Practice level. She recognized the acting structure of the IDT lacked efficiency, and reorganized the process into a mobile IDT Care meeting format to ensure Veteran-centered care and participation of all SCI/D disciplines involved. Before she implemented the new format, only 10% of residents were involved in their own care planning, IDT participation was sporadic, and communication was incomplete. After implementation, Veteran participation increased by approximately 30%, the IDT participation is consistently 100% from all disciplines, and closed-loop communication is always present.
  • Shawn is currently working to develop and standardize quality measures where she led the collaborative team in the establishment of a consistent tool to report UTIs now used by all 6 VA SCI/D Long Term Care Centers. This tool enables standardized MDS documentation and comparative SAIL data outcomes to accurately compare UTI rates and services, and benchmark them with each other. This consistent method provides a platform for Centers to identify best practices, share interventions, and establish process improvements to lower rates of UTIs.
  • Shawn’s positive approach and sense of humor brings a smile to everyone she encounters. She is an asset to SCI/D service through her clinical knowledge and advocacy. Her dedication to serving Veterans with SCI/D truly demonstrates the exceptional values of a PVA Clinical Excellence Award Recipient.

Worker Award
Allyson Vanscoy, LCSW
Spinal Cord Injury Coordinator/Manager
Edward Hines Jr VA Medical Center

“I thank PVA so much for this award. I have seen their advocacy first-hand and I look forward to many more years of working together to help our nation’s Veterans.”

 - Allyson Vanscoy

Praise for Allyson Vanscoy

  • Allyson came to the Hines SCI/D Center for her internship in 2007 and never left! She is the supervisor for SCI/D Social Work, leading social workers across inpatient, rehab, Home Based Care, Homemaker/Home Health, Nursing Home, Bowel and Bladder, MS, Long Term Care, and PACT settings.
  • Allyson energetically and willingly uses the style of Servant Leadership for Veterans, their families, and her team with pride and is typically the initial point of contact for new referrals. As SCI/D Coordinator, she hosts monthly calls with Hines’ seven VA Spoke teams to communicate status updates on Veterans, ensuring a seamless transition for admissions and transfers.
  • Allyson coordinated and chaired a 2-day Midwest Regional Virtual Conference for all SCI/D Centers in VISNs 10, 12, and 23, which was attended by over 140 SCI/D professionals, had more than 20 presenters, and generated 14 CEUs across 10 disciplines during the pandemic.
  • Allyson is a solid advocate for the ongoing struggles surrounding bowel and bladder care and pressure ulcers. At Hines, she developed an SCI/D B&B Templated Note, which has shown demonstrated improvement in the program. She participated in various SCI/D National Work Groups to advance B&B care documentation within Cerner and developed the B&B Care chapter for the Office of Community Care Field Guidebook.
  • She serves on an Advisory Board for VA Research sponsored by PVA’s own Education Foundation Grant, is an SCI/D expert panel member in the development of the Community Acquired Pressure Ulcer checklist, the Delphi Survey, and she contributes to the Social Work piece in the same series as a Module Developer.
  • Allyson also started a weekly educational series for inpatients during the pandemic and extended it virtually to include and socialize with isolated long-term care residents. She also regularly presents a series on Advance Directives and Community Resources for Veterans and their families.
  • Described by her colleagues and Veteran patients and their families as authentic, reliable, skilled, and committed, Allyson is most deserving of PVA’s recognition with this year’s award!

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Paralyzed Veterans of America
12th Annual Healthcare Summit + Expo
August 25 - 28, 2024
Anaheim, CA

About Us

Paralyzed Veterans of America has a long track record in helping to change lives and build brighter futures for all people who live with SCI and related diseases, such as MS. We look forward to partnering with you to hurry history in this vitally important area of medicine and health care.

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For general information about the Summit + Expo, including registration, please contact us at:

  • 1-800-424-8200
  • 1875 Eye Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20006-3517