Congratulations 2019 GPHA Section Award Winners!

One of the best parts of our conference each year is the GPHA Section Award Ceremony, when we recognize some of Georgia’s top public health champions. Here is a list of the winners for 2019 – click any award title to learn more about each winner. And congratulations to all of the award recipients!

  • Jules S. Terry Memorial Award: Robert Thornton

    The Jules S. Terry Memorial Award is presented to Robert Thornton, District Epidemiologist for the Coastal Health District.

    Following a 12-month long Legionella investigation of a 69-unit hotel facility, Robert developed a framework for investigating and responding to Legionella cases in a timely and strategic manner. This strategy has allowed him to balance time intensive Legionella investigations along with other notifiable disease associated work. His method of streamlining has served the District well considering the introduction of four new active Legionella investigations alone during the summer of 2018 in addition to two major food-related outbreaks.

    Robert’s efficient and effective approach to conducting facility assessments (along with the Environmental Health team members) reviewing, interpreting, and making recommendations concerning complex sampling plans, and coordinating meetings with consultants, staff, and those affected by the disease has demonstrated great initiative on his part.

    His exceptional work with Legionnaires’ disease investigations has improved the quality of public health’s response and ability to guide the mitigation of affected facilities thus improving the overall health of the communities, citizens, and tourists served.

  • Administration Outstanding Service Award: Sylvia Woodford

    The Administration Outstanding Service Award is being presented to North Central Health District Administrator, Sylvia Woodford. During her five years with public health Sylvia has made a big impact on the health of middle Georgia residents by ensuring that there was funding and staff to launch programs such as oral health in Houston county, Uber health for all approved programs, and special projects for all 13 counties.

    As district administrator she has worked to update administrative policies and assist county clinics in improving revenue generation and collections, thereby allowing for growth in staffing and expanding public health opportunities. She created an online travel reimbursement program, moved the business office to monthly travel reimbursement payout, and implemented direct deposit of travel reimbursement developed the district’s first process and policy map for Contract/Memorandum of understanding management.

    Sylvia has always been a proponent of accountability and quality improvement and was one of the main drivers of district’s bid to become accredited, which was successful on the first try. Sylvia is hardworking, dedicated, thoughtful, and creative, and an asset to her district. She inspires trust, is a problem solver and go getter. She takes her duty to middle Georgia residents to heart and is outstanding in her service to them.

  • Environmental Health Specialist of the Year: Glinda Scott

    The Environmental Health Specialist of the Year Award is being presented to Glinda Scott, Environmental Health Manager for the Henry County Health Department.

    Positive public perception of the Environmental Health program is crucial in order to make forward strides in public health outcomes. This ls especially challenging in a rapidly growing and diverse county such as Henry County. Glinda has led the charge to change some misperceptions about Environmental Health, particularly within the Henry County food service industry.

    By working closely with the State EH office and the District EH Director, steps were continuously made to reach out to the food service community via educational opportunities – both during Inspections and in a classroom setting. Glinda’s effort to promote her team’s willingness to partner with the restaurant community to educate that community on the food regulations and Inspection priorities has gone a long way to further positive relationships.

    Glinda has shown strength and persistence in the face of difficult situations and has done so with an unwavering faith that she and her staff could make things better no matter how long it took. She has displayed leadership and dedication to maintaining the highest standards for her community and as a result, made a positive difference in that community.

  • Environmental Health Section Innovations Award : The Chatham County Environmental Health Pool Team

    The Environmental Health Sections Innovations Award is being given to the Chatham County Environmental Health Pool Team. The Chatham EH Pool Team worked together to create an innovative tool that will benefit Environmental teams across the state of Georgia. Recognizing the difficulty in conducting plan reviews for swimming pools, the Chatham County Environmental Health Pool Team developed a tool that provides environmental health staff a step-by-step approach to conducting plan reviews.

    The electronic tool has data input sections that cover pool sizing, basic life safety requirements, Virginia Graham Baker Act requirements, hydraulic analysis, total peak occupancy load, circulation equipment requirements, filter requirements, lighting, signage, deck requirements, and hydraulic analysis.

    Once the information is entered into the program, a final page is automatically generated that outlines whether the proposed pool meets the requirements of the rule. If the pool does not meet the requirements, a detailed list of deficiencies is generated that is automatically put on letterhead that can be given to the pool designer.

    As rules and regulations continue to challenge Environmental Health staff around the state, it is vitally important that staff think outside the box and challenge themselves to create tools that assist them with their daily tasks.

    The Chatham County Environmental Health Pool Team has worked and developed an extraordinary tool that will assist staff statewide in their day to day work. The innovative thinking and attention to detail that the Chatham County Pool Team has demonstrated truly sets them apart.

  • Janet Stancliff Epidemiology Award: Rachel Franklin

    This year’s Janet Stancliff Epidemiology Award is presented to Rachel Franklin, Director of Health Assessment and Epidemiology at Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

    Rachel was an integral part of the team that led Cobb and Douglas Public Health to become the first district in the state of Georgia to be awarded PHAB accreditation. She also approved the creation of an Acute Disease Epidemiology Section training binder to streamline her departmental process for on-boarding new hires and Master of Public Health graduate student interns.

    Rachel is responsible for monitoring the agency operational metrics and health status metrics for 26 CDPH programs to ensure the assessment of improving short-term & long-term goals. She continues to spearhead a Legionella outbreak investigation that was initiated in 2016 at a healthcare facility. She has presented evidence to the facility’s leadership that has led to numerous improvements for clinical disease management.

    Rachel approved the implementation of Cobb and Douglas Public Health’s Talk Project, a community awareness project that allows for educational sessions with healthcare facilities to provide knowledge and resources from district epidemiology. She has also guided the implementation of a School Nurse Newsletter for distribution to District 3-1 school district health professionals.

    Rachel is a lead in her district and among her colleagues and very deserving of this award.

  • Larry W. Miller Health Info Specialist Award: Melissa Green, RN

    The Larry W. Miller Health Information Specialist Award is being presented to Melissa Green, the first registered nurse to every work in the IT department at Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

    Melissa’s vast nursing experience combined with strong technical abilities has allowed her to find efficiencies within several programs, including leading the charge to allow for an interface of lab results to the district providers which increases timeliness and productivity. She has played a key role in implementing a patient portal which will enable patients to become more connected with their treatment and care. The portal will also help increase utilization of the district’s electronic health record.

    Melissa has automated several processes, streamlined workflows, and simplified electronic forms to make them more efficient. She continues to see patients in the clinical setting and is always looking for ways to enhance the patient experience while making the provider’s job easier.

    Her friendly personality and clear commitment to improving technological processes that benefit both patients and staff make a Melissa the perfect recipient of the Larry W. Miller Information Specialist Award.

  • The J. Patrick O’Neal Georgia Public Health Association Safety and Health Preparedness Section Award: Todd Wyckoff

    The J. Patrick O’Neal Georgia Public Health Association Safety and Health Preparedness Section Award is presented to Todd Wyckoff, Emergency Preparedness Director for the Coastal Health District. Todd has done an exceptional job of building relationships and strengthening the overall “response team” by collaborating with partners ranging from county health department staff to local Emergency Management Agents to first responders and federal and state partners.

    Todd helped the Coastal Health District successfully respond to, and recover from, not one but two major storms (Hurricanes Matthew and Irma) within an 11-month period. Todd served tirelessly in the District Operations Center over several planning periods to ensure that, among other responsibilities, those residents with functional, access, or medical needs were safely evacuated from – and returned to – Georgia’s coast. During the Hurricane Irma response, he effectively directed the relocation of the District Operations Center and staff to Georgia Southern University’s campus in Statesboro.

    Todd exhibits a tremendous amount of initiative and collegially works to strengthen all staff participation in response. Recently, he has worked closely with human resources to introduce a half-day emergency preparedness module to the new employee orientation where staff are introduced to the incident command structure.

    He is always ready, willing, and able to assist in any way and is committed to ensuring that preparedness stays on the forefront to ensure the safety of coastal Georgia residents.

  • Rosemarie B. Newman Nutrition Extra Mile Award: Monica Lightfoot

    The Rosemarie B. Newman Nutrition Extra Mile Award is presented to Monica Lightfoot, Coastal Health District Breastfeeding Coordinator.

    Monica wrote and was awarded a grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to initiate community programs aimed at reducing disparities in breastfeeding through peer and professional lactation support in Chatham County.

    Not only did the programs established by Monica through the grant move toward reducing disparities in breastfeeding in African Americans and underserved communities in Chatham County, they also led to Savannah’s two hospital systems – Memorial University Medical System and St. Joseph’s/Candler – being named “Baby Friendly Designated Birth Facilities” through the World Health Organization and United Nation’s Children’s Fund “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.”

    Monica has created a way for new moms to get support in the first few days after delivery by creating a Memorandum of Understanding with our local hospitals that will enable our Breastfeeding Peer Counselors to visit with moms just after delivery. This support – particularly in the early days after the baby arrives – is critical to helping moms in their initial stages of breastfeeding.

    Monica’s commitment to doing whatever it takes to support breastfeeding moms and reduce health disparities is unwavering. She knows how important breastfeeding is to both mother and baby and will do whatever it takes to push the breastfeeding movement forward.

  • Georgia Dental Award of Merit: Judy Stephenson

    The Medical-Dental Health Section’s Georgia Dental Award of Merit is presented to Judy Stephenson, dental hygienist in the Northeast Health District.

    Although District 10 does not have a dentist on staff, Judy has implemented several strategies for dental health services and education in the district including creating and implementing a teaching plan for grade levels based on Georgia Department of Education standards; working in collaboration with Athens-Clarke County Head Start to educate pregnant women about the importance of oral health during and after pregnancy and how to care for their infant’s teeth; providing oral health screenings at several schools; and providing oral cancer screenings and education to Athens-Clarke County employees.

    Judy visits all elementary schools in the district and meets with either an administrator or school nurse to discuss the importance of oral health and offer screening and/or education services to their students and staff. She also provides outreach at numerous school and community based health fairs.

    Judy is completely dedicated to improving oral health in the Northeast Health District and her tireless efforts are making a difference.

  • Lillian D. Wald Public Health Nursing Award: Tammi Brown

    The Lillian D. Wald Public Health Nursing Award is presented to Tammi Brown, Nurse Manager for the Chatham County Health Department in Savannah.

    During her relatively short time in public health, Tammi has motivated staff to new heights. She has a true open-door policy and ensures training opportunities for all staff. Through her efforts, billing efficiencies have notably increased and client satisfaction is the highest it’s been in several years. Staff are more engaged than ever before and that has affected services. She is honest, committed, and takes a direct approach to service delivery, staff relations, and organizational performance.

    Before, during, and after Hurricane Irma, Tammi was the lead on evacuating clients on the Hurricane Registry for those with Functional, Access, and Medical Needs. Tammi worked closely with the EOC to get transportation resources to the homes of these patients. Each one was taken to a staging area for evacuation to a shelter out of the storm’s path or a medical facility, based on their needs.

    Tammi has made great strides in a number of areas and has done it all with a smile on her face and the extraordinary ability to adapt to circumstances and meet challenges head-on.

  • Maggie Kline Public Health Nursing Professional Award: Amy Norris

    The Maggie Kline Public Health Nursing Professional Award is presented to Polk County Health Department nurse, Amy Norris.

    In February 2017, Amy played a major role when several TB cases were diagnosed in Polk County resulting in mass TB screenings at two schools. During the screenings, Amy was able to identify areas for improvement and initiate changes to improve the flow.

    Most patients receiving medication were children and adolescents. Some of them struggled with swallowing the medications. Amy worked with the patients, their parents, the district pharmacist, and district TB Coordinator to devise innovative ways to help these patients take their medication and complete the prescribed regimen.

    Due to the high volume of LTBI patients identified in the school system, the school nurses participated in administration of LTBI medications. Amy worked closely with each school nurse to ensure students were taking medications as ordered, and to follow-up on any problems.

    Some of our patients and families encountered difficulties which required referral to outside resources, and additional case management. Amy met each of these needs with diligence, displaying a holistic approach to the care and treatment they required.

    Amy is the epitome of Public Health Nursing. She demonstrates not only the clinical competencies, but also the heart of our practice. She performs her job with the excellence, creativity, and exemplary nursing practice which are components of the Maggie Kline Award.

  • Barfield Nursing Section Award: J. Sharrel Jones

    The Barfield Nursing Section Award is being presented to J. Sharrel Jones from the North Georgia Health District.

    In 2014 after identifying several issues related access to care for prenatal clients in Whitfield County were identified, Sharrel worked with local leaders in the healthcare community to develop an action plan to better serve prenatal clients and the Healthy Babies Program was launched.

    After many years of success and continued growth in the Healthy Babies program, A need was identified related to continued care of the mother and their family after the client had delivered her baby. To address the need, along with prenatal care, clients are linked with a Family Planning Navigator who serves as a liaison between the client and practitioner to provide education on family planning options for the client upon delivery to improve future pregnancy planning, clients are also linked with a literacy ambassador to encourage the importance of talking and reading with children even while in utero. With a focus to increase knowledge related to family planning and literacy, the overall future family of the client improves.

    The Healthy Babies program is one of a kind, and it has already established itself as a trusted location for prenatal care. With continued community support, the program will continue to thrive and be a stepping stone for a healthier community.

  • Ruth B. Freeman Public Health Nursing Award: Heather S. Holloway, RN

    The Ruth B. Freeman Public Health Nursing Award for Population Health Practice is being presented to Heather S. Holloway from North Central Health District.

    Heather is a natural leader who has demonstrated immense aptitude and initiative since joining the Public Health ranks 8 years ago. Recognizing areas in need of improvement involving sheltering, she worked on a State Emergency Preparedness Sheltering workgroup to create a Shelter Manual for public health nurses which should ultimately improve communication, collaboration, and the provision of essential nursing services to evacuees. Heather also realized the need for quick, reliable access to just-in-time training and recommended the creation of videos demonstrating critical nursing skills in a shelter setting. Heather’s workgroup is currently collaborating with Emory University to implement high quality, accessible training videos for on-demand use in shelters.

    Heather’s collaborative work in the development of unique training and resources manuals in sheltering response have addressed current issues and significantly improved the quality of public health services in emergent situations.

    Throughout her career in public health, Heather has demonstrated the willingness to assess areas for growth and innovate quality ideas that become fully and systematically developed into operational plans.