October 3, 2023 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Katina Hayden smiles for a photo with Darren Levitz, senior director of member experience and health equity for WellCare, after Hayden was named the overall winner of WellCare’s Community Health Champions 2023 on Sept. 20, 2023. The event was held at Churchill Downs in Louisville. COURTESY OF KAITLIN KEANE, WELLCARE

Hayden: The work that earned her the 2023 WellCare award was ‘a team effort’ by entire staff


Listening to the stories of her fellow nominees, Katina Hayden did not think she would have even voted for herself, “because they were all incredible” – and yet she was the one chosen as the overall winner of WellCare’s Community Health Champions 2023.

Hayden, who serves as the disaster operations director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro, was shocked when she heard her name read at the end of the list of winners during WellCare of Kentucky’s fourth annual Community Health Champions Awards on Sept. 20.

“It was humbling,” she told The Western Kentucky Catholic the day after the ceremony.

WellCare of Kentucky provides government-sponsored managed care services for families, children, seniors, and individuals with complex needs primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans across the state.

The Sept. 20 event, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, was an opportunity to honor nine winners from among 295 nominations across Kentucky. Each regional winner received $3,000.

Hayden, as the statewide winner, received $5,000 for Catholic Charities.

Hayden had been nominated separately – and unbeknownst to each other – by two of her co-workers, Susan Montalvo-Gesser (Catholic Charities’ director) and Tina Hawley (Catholic Charities’ administrative assistant). The two described Hayden as the person who played a crucial role in managing recovery efforts from the December 2021 tornadoes that devastated western Kentucky, helping the marginalized in their recovery process.

During the award presentation, Hayden was commended for having built a team of case managers across areas like Dawson Springs, Hopkinsville, Bremen, Ohio County, Princeton, Bowling Green, and the Lakes in order to provide assistance to more than 4,000 tornado survivors.

She told the WKC that when her name was read at the conclusion of the presentation, she realized that though “I had not really prepared a speech, I had to go up and speak.”

“I felt bad when I was onstage, alone – when it was all these people,” she said of her fellow Catholic Charities staff who have worked alongside her since the 2021 tornadoes. “It’s a team effort. It’s not me.”

Hayden said her Catholic Charities team is “like a family.”

“I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for all the case managers,” she said. “All those case managers, and Catholic Charities staff, and Susan, and the pastoral center, and Bishop Medley… it was like a puzzle and together, it made one picture.”

Learn more about the services of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro at https://owensborodiocese.org/catholic-charities/.

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