AHI Celebrates National Rural Health Day, Announces 2019 Rural Health Champions

In recognition of National Rural Health Day, November 21, Adirondack Health Institute is pleased to announce seven individuals have been recognized as 2019 Rural Health Champions. The annual recognition is a collaborative effort of four of the North Country’s Rural Health Networks, including the Adirondack Rural Health Network (ARHN), a program of AHI supported with funds from the NYS Department of Health Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health. Each year since 2015, the Rural Health Networks in Northern New York ask their network partners to nominate individuals who exemplify the selfless, community-minded, can-do spirit that prevails in rural America.

2019 Rural Health Champions:

Valerie Ainsworth, Executive Director, Mental Health Association of Essex County, 2019 Rural Health Community Empowerment Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Valerie Ainsworth not only runs the Mental Health Association in Essex County, which has been recognized for excellence by the Office of Mental Health but is a passionate advocate for veterans through Homeward Bound. She is a tireless worker for residents of Essex, Franklin, and Clinton county.”

Susan Allott, Assistant Director of Public Health, Essex County Health Department, 2019 Rural Public Health Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Susan is dedicated and compassionate to her staff, but first and foremost an advocate for those in our community who are under-served. Sue holds a Master of Science degree in Nursing and a Certificate in Public Health, giving her a unique perspective into health care. It is through that lens that she guides us to deliver compassionate, culturally-competent, trauma-informed, evidence-based public health initiatives.”

Leah Breeyear, Regional Education and Outreach Coordinator, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, 2019 Rural Health Education and Outreach Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Being an Education and Outreach Specialist is not just a job for Leah. She understands and wears with pride the fact that she is the face of the organization in our local community. Leah never stops educating, whether it is before or after events or even in her day-to-day in the community, she provides informative and accessible information to everyone who needs it.”

Jennifer Neifeld, Chief Operating Officer, 820 River St, Baywood Center, 2019 Rural Health Community Collaboration Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Jennifer has been a visionary with several projects, willing to take the lead in the community to tackle critical issues standing in the way of improved health and wellness. She has a can-do attitude and takes on whatever is needed to make these critical programs come to fruition. We are grateful for her energy and commitment to the communities in Warren and Washington counties.”

Lee Rivers, Executive Director, Community Connections of Franklin County, 2019 Rural Health Community Impact Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from his nomination reads: “Lee Rivers is one of the most collaborative leaders in the field of behavioral health in the North Country! He is an out-of-the-box thinker who looks for solutions that support community members across the North Country region, and not just in his backyard. He works tirelessly to find funding, obtain resources and bring together partners to help improve the health care of the residents in our area.”

Maggie Rowley, Manager of Care Coordination, Nathan Littauer Hospital, 2019 Rural Health Care Coordination Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from her nomination reads:Maggie’s vision, leadership and personal engagement with patients and families have been extraordinary! She is a superstar! By instinct and experience, Maggie is acutely aware of the non-clinical drivers that prevent patients from seeking appropriate care environments, follow care plans, or understand how to manage their health. Maggie has played a crucial role in the integration of hospital and community-based care navigation, development of warm hand-offs to community-based organization representatives, data tracking, and direct patient intervention.”

Edward “Trip” Shannon, Chief Development Officer, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, 2019 Rural Health Advocacy Champion of the Year.

An excerpt from his nomination reads: “Trip Shannon has made a lasting contribution to the health care of the entire region through his work at Hudson Headwaters. His role as chief development officer means that he is at the forefront of new projects, enhanced services, relationship-building with elected officials and creating relationships among health-oriented organizations throughout the region. Trip’s daily motivation stems from his passion to identify and address needs in communities throughout Warren, Essex, Clinton, Washington, Hamilton, and Saratoga counties.”

“Rural regions have distinctive health care needs that require those who provide care and community support services to possess unique abilities, drive, and dedication,” said Eric Burton, CEO, Adirondack Health Institute. “Each of our honorees shares the common attribute of being recognized leaders in the facilitation of exceptional health care services in their respective communities and all seven are highly-deserving of this accolade.”

Created by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), National Rural Health Day showcases the work being done to address the unique health care needs of rural communities. For more information, please visit www.nosorh.org/nrhd.

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