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For Release: June 23, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

State Health Department 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 recently. Awards were given for outstanding employee service, programmatic excellence, community service, and for the first time, “County Health Department of Year” and “Central Office Service/Program of the Year”. 

“I am pleased to commend these employees and programs for the outstanding services they provide in their communities,” said Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Crutcher. “Their hard work and determination are helping to create a healthier Oklahoma.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is the public health authority responsible for protecting and promoting the health of the citizens of Oklahoma. The number of agency employees total about 2,400 and are located at the central office in Oklahoma City and in 68 county health departments.

The awards and honorees recognized include the following: County Health Department Employee of the Year – Teresa Bailey, RN, Garfield County Health Department; Central Office Employee of the Year – Traci House, OSDH central office, Oklahoma City; Community Service Award – Pittsburg County Health Department; Award of Commendation – Renee Wyrick, former employee of Bryan, Choctaw and McCurtain county health departments; Central Office Program of the Year – Employee Wellness Program; and County Health Department of the Year – Pittsburg County Health Department. Their accomplishments are listed below:

  • County Health Department Employee of the Year: Teresa Bailey, RN, public health educator at Garfield County Health Department, organized and directed the “Walk this Weigh” program in Garfield County. With an initial goal of 400 participants, more than 1,200 persons participated in this physical activity program, which may become an annual event. Bailey has also been instrumental in providing tobacco cessation classes and CPR and first aid training.
  • Central Office Employee of the Year: Traci House, coordinator of the OSDH Employee Wellness Program, generated enthusiasm and interest among employees of the OSDH central office for Healthy Living classes, a weekly Farmers Market, exercise classes and creation of a wellness center.
  • Community Service Award:  In the midst of devastating ice storms in the Pittsburg County area, Pittsburg County Health Department staff exhibited the true spirit of public health in the time of crisis by partnering with law enforcement to conduct welfare checks on individuals and families; assisted hospital staff with nursing support; and checked public shelters to assure critical prescriptions were filled, oxygen bottles were full and basic needs were met. Staff opened the health department on weekends to provide WIC services, and environmental specialists worked long hours to survey food service facilities so they could reopen to the public.
  • Award of Commendation: Renee Wyrick, former male involvement educator working in Bryan, Choctaw and McCurtain counties, worked with at-risk adolescent boys and young adult men to stress the importance of the responsibilities of young males in preventing teen pregnancies. She stressed the community values that support these roles and she was able to acquire local support for the Male Involvement program in area high schools.
  • Central Office Service/Program of the Year:  This new award recognized the OSDH Employee Wellness Program, which has clearly aligned itself with the agency’s mission of creating a state of health by developing opportunities for employees to improve their health while at the work site. Smoking cessation classes, after-hours exercise programs, an employee wellness center, and opportunities to shop at a weekly Farmers Market are just a few options employees now enjoy. This program was also a 2007 Blue Cross and Blue Shield “Champions of Health” recipient.
  • County Health Department of the Year: This new award went to the Pittsburg County Health Department in recognition of its committed workforce, customer service, community partnerships, commitment to resolving health disparities, and creative and innovative programs. Michael Echelle, agency administrative director, recognized his health department team for their proactive approach in the community.

Receiving recognition as award finalists were: Central Office Employee of the Year – Ron Cain, Kay Hollingsworth, and Dennis Johnson; County Health Department Employee of the Year – Kristi Love, Guymon; Jerry Speck, Antlers; Lisa Toth, Vinita; and Arlinda Copeland, Antlers; Community Service Award – Marilyn Walden, Idabel; Shelly Sweat, Madill; Marlene Hansen, Durant; and Janice Bryant, Pawnee; Award of Commendation – Nema Criswell, Durant; Shannon Williams, Madill; Kay Cartledge, Durant; and William “Butch” Francis, Norman; Central Office Service/Program of the Year – Office of Accountability; and County Health Department of the Year – Haskell, Mayes, and Texas county health departments.

For more information about the OSDH Employee Recognition Program and those recognized, contact:  Patti Ream, (405) 271-4171 or at pattijr@health.ok.gov.

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