The AHA awarded Nelson the 2017 Rural Hospital Leadership Award, which acknowledges small or rural hospital chief executives and administrators who have attained improvements in local health delivery and health status through their leadership and direction, based on his work to advance care in rural northern Michigan.

Among Nelson’s accomplishments are increasing access to care on Mackinac Island, Mich., establishing a joint venture between Mackinac Straits Hospital and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Health Services, helping create a new health care campus and more. The rural health advocate has fought for improved access to care through legislative and community efforts. Read more about Nelson’s work and the award here.