Sepsis Alliance Honors Heroes Who Helped Drive Significant Awareness of Nation’s Third Leading Cause of Death

September 14, 2016

5th Annual Gala Celebrates Year over Year Progress in Sepsis Awareness and Points to Work that Needs to be Done

(New York City – September 15, 2016) In celebration of Sepsis Awareness Month (September), Sepsis Alliances honors the contribution of six individuals and organizations from around the nation who have taken meaningful actions to broaden awareness and knowledge of sepsis – the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

“For a decade we have been working to move Sepsis from a conversation behind the closed doors of the ICU to be a more broadly recognized and understood disease by professionals and patients alike. Only then will we be able to see true change in what had been accepted as the standard course of the disease,” said Sepsis Alliance Executive Director, Thomas Heymann. “Today we honor the Sepsis Heroes who have joined this cause and who have helped to make a meaningful difference in Sepsis awareness.”

In the past year, sepsis awareness has increased by nearly 25% marking a significant milestone with more than half of Americans now indicating that they’ve heard of the condition. This increased awareness comes as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now calling for healthcare professionals, including family physicians, to play a more active role in protecting patients from infections that may lead to sepsis, as well as in recognizing sepsis-related complications earlier.

Honoring Sepsis Heroes

At the national non-profit’s gala in New York City on September 15th, Sepsis Alliance will recognize the 2016 class of Sepsis Heroes, which includes a healthcare system, medical experts, educators, sepsis survivors, and advocates. The organization will also announce the first recipient of the Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award to honor an organization that is making a direct impact in the lives of sepsis survivors and their families.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in sepsis awareness from just 19% in 2007 to 55% today but the he fact remains that less than one-third of American adults know the signs and symptoms of the life-threatening condition,” added Heymann. “It is through the work of Sepsis Heroes like those we’re honoring this year that the progress in awareness will begin to drive earlier diagnosis and ultimately better patient outcomes.”

Sepsis Alliance will also receive a proclamation from New York City dedicating September 15 as New York City Sepsis Day. The proclamation, advanced by Councilman Dan Garodnick, underscores the need in New York City and across the country to increase awareness of sepsis, so more survive.

The 2016 Class Includes:

  • Martin Doerfler, MD– Associate Chief Medical Officer at Northwell Health and a leading advocate for sepsis awareness and education
  • Lisa Bartlett (Davis)– Sepsis advocate who started community awareness events in Illinois and Colorado after the death of her husband to sepsis.
  • Tom Ahrens, PhD– Nurse educator and leader in educating nurses on sepsis best practices.
  • Hillary Spangler– Sepsis survivor who has gone on to medical school and is an advocate for sepsis education and awareness.
  • Kennedy Health– Philadelphia-area hospital system that has demonstrated a system-wide commitment to improving treatment and outcomes from sepsis.
  • Begin Again Foundation (Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award) – National organization helping survivors of sepsis, toxic shock syndrome, and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) by providing critical financial assistance.

Media Availability

Sepsis Alliance has several speakers available to media for interviews. These include:

Dr. James O’Brien – System Vice President of Quality at OhioHealth in Columbus.

Dr. Stephen Simpson –Professor of Medicine and Acting Director of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Kansas.

Dr. Michael Taylor – Chairman, Committee on Injury Prevention at Northern Ohio Trauma System

To request an interview, contact:
Thomas Heymann – Executive Director

About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance is the leading nonprofit patient advocacy organization in North America. Sepsis Alliance’s mission is to save lives by raising awareness of sepsis as a medical emergency. The organization works with multiple partners to host national and local community events, distribute educational information, and promote training and education on sepsis prevention, early recognition, and treatment. Sepsis Alliance also supports sepsis survivors and family members with information about sepsis and post sepsis syndrome, as well as a Faces of Sepsis community forum. The website receives more than 1 million visits each year. Sepsis Alliance, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a GuideStar Gold Rated Charity. For more information, please visit