PRICE — A Utah State University Eastern nursing instructor recently received the Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award from the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Danielle Howa Pendergrass is one of 10 recipients of the national leadership award recognizing her, in part, for work that led to changes in Utah’s Medicaid reimbursement policy and opened greater access to care for Utah women and girls.

“I could not be more honored,” Pendergrass said. “It’s a really exciting award that comes with a ton of responsibility.”

She continues to work with the Utah Action Coalition for Health in removing practice barriers that prevent nurses from working to the full extent of their education and training. Her current focus with the coalition is to involve more of the state’s 10,000 nurses on governing boards, councils, committees and in other positions of influence.

Pendergrass, whose roots are in Carbon County, opened a women’s health clinic in Price two years ago. Today, USU Eastern nursing students work in her clinic, as well as nurse practitioner students from the University of Utah. Her clinic serves more than 20,000 women from teens to seniors, both insured and uninsured, in rural Utah.

The change in Medicaid policy that Pendergrass engineered makes it possible for her and other rural-serving nurse practitioners to see patients who would otherwise have to travel great distances for services such as pap smears and mammograms.