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For Release: May 10, 2010
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Oklahoma Department of Health Recognizes Outstanding Employees

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recognized outstanding employees and agency programs at its annual Employee Recognition Ceremony held in Oklahoma City last week.

“The employees and programs recognized for their outstanding services in their communities are to be congratulated for their dedication to improving the health of all Oklahomans,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “Every employee of the OSDH has a critical role to play and these employees were chosen as outstanding examples of the committed public health workforce we have across the state. We commend them for their innovation and dedication and would like to thank them for their public service to the people of Oklahoma.”

Awards were provided to the following:

County Health Department Employee of the Year: Chad Newton, Public Health Specialist Supervisor in the Beckham County Health Department in Elk City, supervises 24 counties with 11 sanitarians and one technician to cover Western Oklahoma. He is responsible for training, policies and procedures and recently completed his master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He is a 2001 Oklahoma Public Health Leadership Institute Fellow and belongs to numerous professional organizations. He still finds time to volunteer his assistance to those who are sick or less fortunate in the community by doing odd jobs to help them take care of themselves and their homes. His staff is always eager to see how he mixes creativity and humor into his training.

Central Office Employee of the Year: John Judge, Health Resource Development Services, has continued to deliver quality services even with declining staffing levels and hiring freezes.  Since 2007, he reduced costs and shared responsibilities with on-site recertifications for Certified Workplace Medical Plans, serving about 190,000 people. He was also responsible for overseeing the Home Care Administrator Registry and Nurse Aide Emergency Waiver programs’ annual certifications and renewals, serving more than 325,000 people. Judge processes external reviews filed by HMO members seeking to appeal the denial of services and ensures that quality assurance programs are independently and timely reviewed. His efforts have resulted in a monthly salary savings in excess of $10,000 per month.

Central Office Program of the Year: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Services now offers a food package that reflects the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including fresh fruits and vegetables. In the past year, staff provided multiple training venues for program participants and vendors on the new food package. Assistance was also provided to Oklahoma farmers who were interested in becoming WIC vendors. Every month, about 66,000 Oklahoma women and children now redeem food packages worth about $400,000 for fruits and vegetables through the healthier choices now available.
Oklahoma’s WIC program was recognized this past year by the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture for its unique cooperative ventures, efforts and results.

County Health Department of the Year: Pottawatomie County Health Department in Shawnee undertook a groundbreaking project in 2009 by applying for Safe Communities America designation for Shawnee from the World Health Organization (WHO). The official WHO award letter arrived in December 2009 citing outstanding leadership in promoting safety, reducing injuries and preparing citizens for disasters. Shawnee was the first community in Oklahoma and the eighth in the U.S. to achieve this honor. The Pottawatomie County Health Department took the lead in coordinating partnerships with community, governmental, health, safety, and business organizations to address injury prevention initiatives for all ages. These initiatives demonstrated a commitment to implementing long-term, sustainable programs that are evidence-based and grounded in scientific evaluation. This isn’t the first time the county was recognized as county health department of the year. In 1941, the American Public Health Association gave it that ranking while observing, “The health program of the county has been put over with a limited personnel who knew their business and has been able to do this fine job on a small budget.” Current Administrative Director for the health department is Tina Johnson, who oversees 36 employees. The Pottawatomie County Health Department serves a population of about 69,600.

Receiving Honorable Mention for County Health Department Employee of the Year were Janice Arnold, Canadian County Health Department; Gloria Martinez, Cleveland County Health Department; and Donna Wiley, RN, Cleveland County Health Department.

Receiving Honorable Mention for Central Office Employee of the Year were Patricia Burk, Screening and Special Services Program; and Mark Lopez, Office of Human Resources/Benefits.

Receiving Honorable Mention for Central Office Program of the Year were Vital Records, Center for Health Statistics; and Emergency Preparedness and Response Services, Prevention & Preparedness Services.

Receiving Honorable Mention for County Health Department of the Year was Payne County Health Department in Cushing.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and its 68 county health departments are responsible for protecting and promoting the health of the citizens of Oklahoma. The Employee Recognition Award recipients were selected from employees nominated for accomplishments occurring in 2009, with final approval awarded by the Oklahoma State Board of Health. For more information about the OSDH Employee Recognition Program and those recognized, contact Patti Ream, (405) 271-4171 or pattijr@health.ok.gov.  

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