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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Public health leaders receive 2011 Community Health Services Awards

Minnesota Department of Health

News Release

September 15, 2011

Public health leaders receive 2011 Community Health Services Awards

Awards presented to: Lois Ahern (Freeborn County); Patricia Coldwell (Association of Minnesota Counties); Healthy Living Minneapolis – Community Resources for Everyone; Commissioner William Montague (Polk County); Susan Ross (Minnesota Department of Health); Deb Smith (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa)

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger presented awards to several individuals and one group on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011, for significant accomplishments in public health in Minnesota. Awardees were selected by their peers and received their awards at the 2011 Community Health Conference.

A Certificate of Recognition was presented to HealthyLiving Minneapolis – Community Resources for Everyone. This network of organizations provides free and low-cost services for healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco cessation. By partnering with health care clinics to link patients to online resources, the network hopes to provide a sustainable way to connect clinics and patients to community-based resources to help patients quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight.

A Certificate of Recognition was presented to Susan Ross of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). As a clinical advisor, Ross has created and implemented a number of innovative programs to make a positive difference in the lives of Minnesotans with asthma. Among Ross' accomplishments is the first publicly available interactive asthma action plan, which allows health care professionals to quickly determine asthma severity by assessing a wide range of symptoms.

The Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service was presented to Lois Ahern, formerly of Freeborn County. As the county's public health director for 17 years, Ahern fostered a climate of creativity and support for her staff and left a legacy of excellence and passion for public health. Ahern successfully steered Freeborn County through a number of outbreaks and major events, from SARS and AIDS to winter storms and tornadoes.

The Jack Korlath Partnership Award was presented to Patricia Coldwell of the Association of Minnesota Counties. In her role as a health and human services policy analyst, Coldwell serves as a key liaison between MDH and Minnesota counties on public health issues, creating shared learning opportunities, collaboration and partnerships. She is skilled at bridging differences between organizations and is a tireless advocate for public health.

The Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health was presented to Polk County Commissioner William Montague. Montague has served as commissioner since 2001 and served as the chair of the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee in 2004. Mr. Montague has encouraged county commissioners to increase their participation and knowledge of public health in their counties and has been a champion among elected officials for the broader appreciation of the work of public health at the county level.

The Jim Parker Leadership Award was presented to Deb Smith of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. As the Human Services Division public health nursing coordinator, Smith is instrumental in collaborating across tribes and with surrounding counties on measures to improve the health of tribe members of all ages. Smith works on multiple advisory boards and in associations and is the first American Indian nurse to serve as a reviewer for the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Smith was joined by the family of Jim Parker while accepting the award, as 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Parker's death.

"I am consistently impressed by the passion and dedication of Minnesota's public health professionals, elected officials and volunteers who work to promote health in Minnesota," said Ehlinger. "No matter what challenges they face, they always put the health of Minnesotans first."

For more information on the 2011 Community Health Awards, please visit:


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