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2015 Awards of Excellence in Public Health

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Northern Kentucky Health Department will honor the contributions of community partners to address both new and existing public health threats with the 2015 Award of Excellence in Public Health, presenting awards to Brent Cooper for his work to promote a smoke-free law; and to Patty Burns, Infection Control Manager with St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport Fire/EMS department for their response to the emerging threat of Ebola.

The awards are given each year to recognize individuals and organizations within Northern Kentucky for their collaboration with the Health Department to promote public health.

Patty Burns frequently partners with Health Department staff to investigate and control infectious diseases. As regional health care agencies faced the threat of Ebola locally, Burns mobilized St. Elizabeth staff and resources for preparedness efforts. Further, she ensured that the hospital’s response was coordinated among the various agencies involved in planning efforts.

Commercial airline travel makes it easy for germs to spread from one region to another, so the disease prevention efforts of first responders at airports can be important to stopping transmission. The CVG Airport Fire/EMS department, under the leadership of Chief Stephen Listerman, updated agency protocols and procedures for Ebola, and procured the personal protective equipment necessary for a potential response to the virus as well. The department also coordinated its efforts with the Health Department, hospitals and other community groups.

“The threat of Ebola last fall forced us to step up our infectious disease planning,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “Our partners at St. Elizabeth and CVG rose to the immense challenge of planning for such a deadly disease. As a result, we are better prepared for a variety of threats, from Ebola to measles or any emerging infectious disease.”

The awards to Burns and CVG Fire/EMS will be presented by Saddler and Doug Thoroughman, a CDC Epidemiology Field Officer based at the Kentucky Department for Public Health, during the CVG airport disaster committee meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 17.

Covington business owner Brent Cooper has been a long-time supporter of efforts to improve health with a smoke-free indoor air law in Kentucky. Cooper was active in advocacy efforts with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and spoke in support of a law at a legislative committee meeting in December 2014. As the proposed law moved through the statehouse, Cooper championed the cause through editorials as well as in conversations with business leaders and legislators.

“Brent Cooper’s advocacy work has opened the minds of business leaders and the general public to the reasons why a statewide comprehensive smoke-free law benefit would everyone—our health, our business climate, and our economy,” said Saddler. “Because of his efforts, we are closer to achieving our goal of breathing smoke-free air.”

Cooper’s award will be presented by Saddler and Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, MD, MPH, Senior Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, at the Northern Kentucky District Board of Health meeting, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, 22 Spiral Drive, Florence, Ky.

The Award of Excellence in Public Health is given each spring to honor those people and organizations in Northern Kentucky who have shown progress toward achieving and maintaining a healthier community. Winners are nominated and selected by the Health Department staff for work done in collaboration with the Health Department. The awards were first presented in 2000. For more information, please visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/awards.aspx.

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