Rural Health Champions Honored on National Rural Health Day

In honor of National Rural Health Day on November 19, the Rural Health Networks of Northern New York recognized 2020 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.

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. This year, ARHN sought to identify individuals who showed exemplary selflessness, leadership, and continued delivery of outstanding care in the community during these unprecedented times.

2020 AHI Rural Health Champions:

Angela Bashaw, The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center

An excerpt from her nomination read: “As a sole rural hospital, we are always searching for ways to meet the variety of mandates placed on us with shrinking reimbursements. The concept of conversion to Rural Health Clinic status was introduced to us several years ago and Angie Bashaw took the lead on this transformative project. She researched and learned the process that the change required and has led the transformation of our four community health centers and recently our adult primary care center to RHC status. This effort was tremendous, and it allows us, as a small organization, to continue to provide quality care and have funds to meet mandates and re-invest in our future needs. Angie’s leadership in this conversion is one example of the many projects and initiatives for which she represents our facility.”

Marco DiGirolomo, Senior Planet North Country/Older Adults Technology Services

An excerpt from his nomination read: “I believe Marco DiGirolomo should be nominated because of his exemplary leadership of Senior Planet North Country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Marco worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County to ensure that their collaborative exercise classes continued during this time. These classes have amassed more than 700 older adults from all across the region. With doing all of this, Marco has remained humble and a magnificent leader to all of the Senior Planet North Country team.”

Jacqueline Foster, 820 River St., Inc., The Baywood Center

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Before the word pandemic was used to describe COVID, Jackie was already researching ways in which the Baywood Center could continue to provide services. Jackie’s understanding of the disease of addiction helped her realized that continuing care was a necessity in addictive behaviors, and she wanted to be proactive before that statistic increased. She spent endless hours in the evening working on reports, rewriting policies, and finding solutions to every hurdle that she encountered so that our services were never interrupted. Client care has always been Jackie’s primary focus throughout her 11 years with this agency. She never disappoints, goes above and beyond, sacrifices family time and never complains. What a treasure we ALL have in our midst!”

Rebecca Leahy, North Country Home Services

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Becky began her 34-year career in home health care after 17 years as a Registered Nurse working for seven years in a hospital and 10 years in college health services. She has been an active advocate for access to quality home care in our rural region. Becky is an active member of the Tri-Lakes Aging in Place Task Force and the Caregiving Working Group of Essex and Franklin Counties, facilitated by Mercy Care for the Adirondacks, where she is a leading advocate for promoting the aims of the Home Care Workforce Shortage Crisis Campaign in the Adirondacks. She is a bold and innovative leader in pursing new opportunities to recruit, retain, and value home care personnel.”

Dr. Erica Mahoney, Hamilton County Public Health

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Erica Mahoney’s drive and passion for the well-being of Hamilton County residents has always been evident. Often working nights and weekends, Erica has collaborated with multiple stakeholders to ensure the safety and welfare of residents, and employees throughout the county. Despite the chaos and stress the pandemic has created, Erica comes to work each day with a positive attitude, ready for what the day may bring with the team she has assembled at Public Health. Erica continues to create a safe and stable work environment, where her door is always open. This positive energy and positive leadership serves as an example for her staff and for the communities as well.”

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