Alum receives lifetime achievement award


Kellen Stepler | Staff Writer

Everyone has a personal goal that they hope to achieve. For some, it is passing a big exam, others it’s graduating college. For Duquesne University alumni LaVerne VanDeWall, it’s receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) in Watertown, New York.

On Thursday, April 4, the SMC will be hosting its seventh annual physician recognition dinner. Hosted by the SMC Medical Executive Committee and Foundation, the event recognizes active and retired physicians for their dedication. As part of the event, one physician is chosen to receive the lifetime achievement award, recognizing them for their leadership and service to the health and well-being of the northern New York area.

VanDeWall is being recognized for his 27 years of dedication to the SMC.

“This event has been established to offer the entire community an opportunity to recognize and thank our physicians for their time, talent and commitment,” Thomas H. Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center, said in a news release.

The SMC is a 290-bed not-for-profit community medical center. According to their mission statement, “Samaritan Medical Center and its team of healthcare professionals proudly serves the medical needs of our civilian and military community. Quality, compassion and safety are the basic principles by which exceptional care is delivered at Samaritan.”

A Rochester, New York native, VanDeWall attended Albany College of Pharmacy where he earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Pharmacy degree in 1975, and then received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Duquesne in 1977.

“The School of Pharmacy wishes to acknowledge the accomplishments of Dr. LaVerne VanDeWall,” J. Douglas Bricker, dean of the pharmacy school said. “He was among those who pioneered the clinical pharmacy movement while receiving his Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Duquesne. Duquesne was one of the very few schools of pharmacy who offered this degree and this program played a pivotal role in how clinical pharmacy has expanded throughout the country.”

After practicing pharmacy for a few years, VanDeWall went back to school in 1981 and attended Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, in which he received his doctorate of osteopathic medicine in 1985.

“In 2000, all schools of pharmacy were required to convert to the entry level Doctor of Pharmacy degree. We were ahead of the curve and Dr. VanDeWall helped us to get there,” Bricker said.

“Whether in their private practice, hospital duties, board or medical staff leadership positions or volunteer work, Samaritan’s physicians dedicate their time and talent to making the community a better place to live,” the news release said.

Since then, VanDeWall has been involved in the Watertown medical community for the past 27 years. He has provided care at SMC, Samaritan Summit Village and the Samaritan Keep Home. He also served as the medical director for the Mercy of Northern New York.

According to the press release, VanDeWall has been involved in several committees at SMC, such as medical management, antibiotic stewardship, and graduate medical education. He also served as president of the medical staff in 2003, 2010 and 2015, and served on the Credentials and medical executive committees.

VanDeWall and his wife live in Watertown, New York ,and have four adult daughters and six grandchildren.

The awards dinner for VaDeWall’s lifetime achievement award will be on Thursday, April 4.