J.A. Hall of Fame: Health-care leader Richard Akin named 2012 laureate

Richard Akin, CEO of CHS Healthcare/ at his office in Immokalee

Richard Akin, CEO of CHS Healthcare/ at his office in Immokalee

Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida has added two new laureates to its Business Hall of Fame.

This year’s laureates are Richard B. Akin and Philip J. McCabe, who were officially inducted at a dinner Tuesday night in their honor at the Waldorf Astoria Naples, off Seagate Drive in Naples.

The event attracted a crowd of about 600, including more than 60 Collier County students, from fifth to 12th grade who are involved with Junior Achievement. Junior Achievement is dedicated to educating young people about business, economics and free enterprise.

Akin is president/CEO of Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida and Philip J. McCabe is CEO and owner of Gulf Coast Commercial Corp. and founder of the Inn on Fifth and McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill in Naples.

The prestigious award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who serve as role models for youth through their professional accomplishments and commitment to the community.

"We have two very good laureates, who balanced each other out very well," said Anne Frazier, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. "They come from totally different backgrounds, two different industries, and they are two different personalities."

The two men were chosen from a list of about 30 candidates this year.

— Richard Akin has a passion for making sure children receive quality medical care.

"Children are kind of what make me get out of bed every day," said Akin, 62, the president and chief executive officer of Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida.

All children should have access to the same good health care, he said.

For his work in the medical community, Akin is one of two business leaders honored Tuesday night as a Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida 2012 Business Hall of Fame laureate.

"It's humbling," Akin said. "I know there are a lot of people that deserve this honor."

The Fort Myers resident credits the success of his nonprofit to many workers, board members and peers who challenged him to strive for the best.

"The work that he has done at the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida in thousands of children's lives is just remarkable," said Anne Frazier, president and CEO for Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida.

In 1995, Akin initiated the Children's Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, a pediatric system of care that provides dental and clinic-based care for needy children and women in Collier County with 12 locations.

The nonprofit primary health-care provider, formerly known as Collier Health Services, has grown from five to hundreds of employees.

Akin also initiated a pediatric dental residency program as a partnership with the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

In 2002, he developed a pediatric center of excellence for the children of Immokalee as a partnership with the Florida State University College of Medicine.

He is the founder and chairman of Integral Quality Health Plan, a statewide Medicaid HMO, which he launched in 2010.

Healthcare Network's launch of its own managed care insurance plan was possible with a substantial loan from Aetna. The Medicaid HMO plan is owned by Integral and structured so 2 percent of the profit will return to Collier County.

So far, Integral operates in 11 counties, with more to come, and the Healthcare Network repaid the loan from Aetna in 2½ years, in half the time as the original projection.

He serves on the board of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Akin brought the first Ronald McDonald Mobile Care Unit to Florida in 2001.

Akin is chairman of the Lee Memorial Health System board, an elected panel that serves as trustees for the Lee Memorial Health System in Lee County. Akin was instrumental in the $191 million expansion of the Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, which is part of the Lee Memorial Health System in Lee County.

The five-story children's tower will be built next to HealthPark, off Summerlin Road, south of Fort Myers. Staying at HealthPark avoided land acquisition costs and means not having to duplicate dietary, surgical and imaging services.

In addition, each full-fledged children's hospital needs a patient volume of 250,000 children, and Southwest Florida doesn't have enough children to support two children's hospitals.

He's been married to Sharon Meredith for 32 years and they have three boys.

Akin moved to Southwest Florida from North Carolina when he was 5. He has lived in Fort Myers for nearly 34 years.

Akin also has received The Prendergast Lifetime Child Advocate Award and the Harvey Kapnick Award, given by the Collier County Community Foundation for the best managed nonprofit in Collier County.

He was honored with the Distinguished Service Medal from Nova Southeastern University College of Medicine, and has served twice as chairman of the Florida Association of Community Health Centers.

In 2011, the Florida Hospital Association honored Akin as the 2011 trustee of the year.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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