Press Release

CarePoint Health’s Susan Ryan Wins Prestigious Frist Humanitarian Award

Longtime Emergency Medicine physician one of only 15 people in U.S. to receive award in 2024.
Susan Ryan

July 01, 2024


GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Longtime CarePoint Health Emergency Medicine physician Susan Ryan, DO, who has worked in the Rose Medical Center (Denver) emergency department for over two decades, has won the Frist Humanitarian Award for HCA Healthcare’s Continental Division.

Dr. Ryan is one of just 15 people in the country to have received a 2024 Frist Award, which is remarkable considering HCA’s network of care includes more than 300,000 colleagues who work in nearly 2,600 medical facilities across 20 states. Dr. Ryan, who has spent 24 of her 34 years in medicine in the Rose emergency room, is now eligible for the national Frist Award.

The Frist Awards, created in 1971, are named after HCA cofounder Dr. Thomas F. Frist. Physicians, employees and volunteers are all eligible for the award, which is given to those who “demonstrate a level of commitment and caring that goes beyond everyday kindness. …Their selflessness serves as both challenge and inspiration to others to find a way to do good in this world,” according to HCA.

“The Frist Humanitarian Award recipients work selflessly to improve the lives of people in need, in their communities and around the world,” former HCA Chairman and CEO Milton Johnson had said of the awards. “Their commitment to the care and improvement of human life inspires all of us to continue the philanthropic work of HCA Healthcare’s founders.”

Dr. Ryan is heavily involved with the national nonprofit organization Canine Companions, which provides service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities as well as facility dogs to professionals who work in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings — all free of charge for the recipients. Dr. Ryan has served for eight years on Canine Companions’ Southwest Region Board of Directors and has raised several service dogs for the organization.

Photo collage featuring a woman with a dog and a group of people

In 2020, as doctors nationwide were quitting in droves because of the immense emotional, mental and physical toll taken by COVID-19, Dr. Ryan stepped into action. She introduced the Canine Companions dog she was raising at the time, an 8-week-old yellow Labrador named Wynn, to her colleagues in the Rose ER. The pup provided immediate and lasting relief. For 20 months straight, Wynn went to the ER every time Dr. Ryan did, ready to provide emotional support and stress relief whenever the physicians, nurses and staff needed it. “She was a big part of the ER. Everybody counted on her being around,” Dr. Ryan said at the time of Wynn, who eventually had to return to Canine Companions for her advanced professional training.

Dr. Ryan has already raised three service dogs for the organization: Winnie, Brenna and Wynn. After returning Wynn to Canine Companions, she applied for a permanent facility dog from the organization. Just over two years ago, Dr. Ryan was matched with a 2-year-old yellow Labrador named Peppi.

“She has the perfect disposition for a busy emergency department and has over 40 skills,” Dr. Ryan said of Peppi, who accompanies her on every shift and even has her own badge, Dogtor. “She greets paramedics, lies with nurses or just follows me around. She’s also available to greet patients and comfort them if they want her to. Some of the staff take her on short walks on their breaks. People have found their time with Peppi to be some of the best moments of their day. She’s very engaging and calming for all of us.”

Peppi was named Best Emergency Room Therapy Dog by Westword in 2023. Like the award-winning Lab, Dr. Ryan is no stranger to hauling in awards. In addition to the Frist Award, she was named Rose’s Physician of the Year in 2021 and has won two Teacher of the Year awards from residency programs and another Teacher of the Year award from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She has also been nominated three times for the CU School of Medicine’s Golden Stethoscope Award.

When she’s not in the Rose ER or doing some kind of work for Canine Companions, Dr. Ryan actively fundraises for disability awareness and etiquette initiatives. The longtime doctor simply can’t take a break from philanthropic work.

“When I think of philanthropy, I think of Dr. Ryan,” CarePoint Health CEO Mark Kozlowski, MD, said. “Her dedication and compassion have not only helped her receive this award but have also made a positive and lasting impact on our clinicians, our healthcare partners and most importantly our patients. Dr. Ryan embodies the spirit of our company’s mission to take exceptional care of people.”


Media Contact:
Alex Schultz
Senior Marketing Manager
CarePoint Health
C: 559-920-3227
O: 303-953-5608