The Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA) held its 2018 Annual Meeting and Conference on April 4 – 6 at Jekyll Island, Georgia, where the gavel as President of the association was passed from Dianne McWethy, MPA to Colin K. Smith, DrPH, MS, CPH.
Dr. Smith is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Management and Policy in the Master of Public Health Program and teaches courses in the Undergraduate Program at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University School. (A more complete biography for Dr. Smith is provided below the release.)
This was the 89th Annual GPHA Meeting and Conference and the theme was “Unlock the Treasures of Public Health”. Attendees were encouraged to use innovative means to educate Georgians about public health services and to engage individuals, families and communities in making healthy choices.
Key note speakers at the conference included Dr. O’Neal; Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, Former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the most recent past Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health; Matthew Gribble, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of the Department of Public Health Rollins School of Public Health Emory University; and, Debra P. Hagins, MD, APCR, AAHIVS, Clinical Director of Outpatient Services for the Coastal Health District Ryan White HIV Program.
Several deserving award winners were recognized at the conference, including J. Patrick O’Neal, MD, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, who received the 2018 Sellers-McCroan Award. This award is given each year to a person whose work has had a significant impact on epidemiology or laboratory services in Georgia, and Dr. O’Neal has been a champion of emergency and trauma services throughout the state. Click here for more information and photos.
The Legislator of the Year Award went to Georgia State House Representative Terry England, R-Auburn, District 116.
2018 GPHA Section Award Winners
Some of Georgia’s top public health champions were recognized during the GPHA Section Award Ceremony. Here is a list of the winners for 2018 – click any award title to learn more about each winner.
- Jules S. Terry Memorial Award: Beverlyn Ming
Beverlyn Ming, RN, MSN, is a wife and the mother of three wonderful children. She started her career in healthcare as a licensed practical nurse in 1995. After working as an LPN for few years, she earned her Associate Degree in Nursing at Middle Georgia College in 2001. She later continued her education at Georgia College & State University earning her Bachelor’s Degree in 2003 and a Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2008. Prior to joining the Macon-Bibb County Health Department, she traveled with her retired military spouse and worked in numerous healthcare settings.
While working in public health, Beverlyn has worked her way up the ladder from a Public Health Nurse to a Public Health Nurse Specialist in which she was later promoted to TB Coordinator, then as the Women’s Health Nursing Supervisor. In 2014, Beverlyn was promoted to County Nurse Manager; in this role, she was instrumental in merging clinical services to ensure that all expanded role nurses would be able to function competently in all programs within the department.
Beverlyn is a member of the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council Board, ANA, GNA, and GPHA. She serves on the Macon-Bibb County Truancy Taskforce. When not performing her public servant duties, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, attending early morning worship service, and gardening.
- Al Dohany Award for Outstanding Community Service: Cristina Gibson
Cristina has been in public health for 14 years. She came to public health from Memorial University Medical Center where she worked as an infectious disease control practitioner. Cristina started out in the Coastal Health District in the epidemiology department and then moved on to the Adolescent Health and Youth Development program.
Cristina’s real passion is in the area of health promotion and she is able to fulfill that passion as the district’s director of Chronic Disease Prevention. In that capacity, Cristina serves all eight counties in the district with a special focus on “making the healthy choice the easy choice.” Her current work involves increasing community assets in the way of opportunities for physical activity, access points to healthy foods, and smoke-free environments.
Cristina is constantly looking for new and unique ways to promote healthier lifestyle choices not only for public health clients and the public at large but also for her coworkers. She is responsible for leading multiple worksite wellness initiatives within the Coastal Health District including a “Walking for Wellness” program and granting “wellness wishes” to help employees get their 30 minutes of recommended physical activity, eat healthier, and/or manage stress in the workplace.
Cristina is a member of the Healthy Savannah Coalition that was instrumental in helping the city of Savannah, Chatham County, and the city of Pooler pass local smoke-free ordinances and local universities implement the 100% Tobacco-Free Campus Policy. She is the creator of the annual Let’s Dance, Savannah! event that offers free blood pressure and blood glucose tests and hours of free dance classes in different styles, encouraging participants to consider dance as a fun way to get the recommended daily 30 minutes of physical activity needed for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
She is a past winner of the GPHA Rosemarie B. Newman Nutrition Extra Mile and Kathy Miner Health Education and Promotion Awards and has been nationally recognized by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Instituted for her work in helping 8 sites in the Coastal Health District achieve recognition as We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) Cities/Counties.
- Administration Outstanding Service Award: Yvonne Fuller
Yvonne has worked for the Department of Public Health for over 22 years and is a valued asset to the Houston County Clinic. Yvonne serves in many roles and is so much more than Administrative Support. Yvonne is extremely knowledgeable with the billing process and, more importantly, is willing to share her knowledge to help others in any way in order that we may all succeed as a clinic.
Yvonne serves as the support for the Right from the Start Medicaid program and Breast & Cervical Cancer Program. She takes extra time to explain in depth the program, what it has to offer to women, and what responsibilities they have in order to remain on the program throughout pregnancy. She has initiated calls to outside agencies to accommodate other areas the client may be lacking in such as nutrition, housing, and educational concerns.
Yvonne goes above and beyond to help patients attain services. She is a great asset to Public Health and Houston County.
- Environmental Health Specialist of the Year: Mike Pitts
Mike Pitts, MPA, REHS, has been employed as an Environmental Health Specialist for 23 years. He is currently employed as the Environmental Health County Manager for the Chatham County Health Department. Prior to coming to Savannah, he served as the County Manager for 4 counties in North Georgia.
Soon after taking the job as Environmental Health County Manager in Chatham County, Mike saw the need for staff development and immediately began putting mechanisms in place for that to happen. He arranged for Environmental Health (EH) employees to take leadership training through Georgia Southern University and he restructured the Environmental Health department to provide additional opportunities for staff advancement by creating two Environmental Health Specialist (EHS) IV positions so that EHS III staff could be promoted within the organization.
While in Chatham County, Mike has organized the digitization of many EH records, mapping septic systems, and is in development of a web-based GIS database for use by the public. He has served on the Soil Classifiers Certification Advisory Committee, was Chair of the EH section of GPHA, and has been a speaker at the annual Chatham County Hurricane Conference.
Mike serves as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Chatham County Health Department and takes the lead in Chatham County’s public health emergency preparedness efforts during disaster response. He also works on directing EH staff and assists nursing staff with post-hurricane shelter operations, including securing resources such as food, water, and medicines for sheltered residents.
Mike received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Shorter College in 1994 and has completed his coursework for his MPA. He holds certification as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist, Standardized Food Service Inspection Officer, Level II Inspector, Certified Pool Operator, and Certified Pool Inspector. He is a member of the Local Emergency Planning Commission, Georgia Public Health Association, Georgia Environmental Health Association, and Georgia Board of Registered Environmental Health Professionals.
- Janet Stancliff Epidemiology Award: Amber Erickson
Amber Erickson, MPH, received Master’s in Public Health emphasis in Epidemiology from Georgia Southern University in 2008. Immediately following graduation, she took a position with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) as the Emergency Preparedness Epidemiologist. While working with the WDH from 2008-2011, she was responsible for disease investigations for endemic bioterrorism agents (such as brucellosis, tularemia, and plague) as well as emerging diseases like 2009 H1N1 outbreak, response planning, and partner training.
In 2011 she accepted the position as District Epidemiologist with the North Central Health District 5-2, in Macon, GA and was promoted to Director of Epidemiology and Assessment in 2017. She is oversees all notifiable disease and outbreak investigations, partner services, data analysis for various health topics in support of all district programs, oversight of quality improvement, accreditation, and worksite wellness activities, and is the internship coordinator for the district. She also co-leads the state biosurveillance workgroup and assists the state and district office with a variety of emergency preparedness activities.
- Kathy Miner Health Education and Promotion Award: Laura Lloyd
Laura M. Lloyd, MPH, MCHES is the Director of Programming for the Region IV Public Health Training Center located at the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. In addition she serves as the Director of Continuing Professional Education for Rollins and the Practicum Faculty Advisor for the Executive MPH Program, which is the distance-based MPH at Rollins. Prior to these positions, Laura served as the Director of Training and Workforce Development for the Emory Public Health Training Center. In this role, she led the Training and Workforce Development team and managed all aspects of the competency-based training and workforce development efforts.
Laura has 25 years’ experience in management positions in the fields of continuing professional education, program planning, training, health education and public health in the university, nonprofit organization and membership association settings. Laura is active in professional organizations including the Georgia Public Health Association and is a member of the American Public Health Association and Society for Public Health Education. She has a BS degree in Biology from the University of Georgia, an MPH degree in Health Education from Emory University, and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES).
- Larry W. Miller Health Info Specialist Award: SE District Telehealth
This award is presented to the Southeast Health District Telehealth Staff. Based on 20 plus years of telehealth/telemedicine experience and its rural status, making the location eligible for USAC reimbursement for circuits, the Southeast Health District (SEHD) was officially selected as the hub for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Telehealth Network in 2014. With minimal staff, which includes two Telehealth Technicians, a Telehealth Accountant and two Telehealth Schedulers, the SEHD runs the statewide network.
In addition to telehealth services that include statewide trainings, district meetings, point to point on-demand meetings, human resource interviews and nutrition education classes the DPH network also provides OB, teledentistry, audiology, pediatric neurology, pulmonology and genetics and HIV telemedicine clinics. SEHD telehealth staff also supports content streaming, remote access for 80+ users and records, edits and plays back trainings/sessions when requested.
Chris Sills and Matt Smith, Telehealth Technicians, assist with installation, training, and ongoing support of network endpoints, computers, infrastructure, peripherals and any other connected devices. They serve as job experts and as the organization’s resource for the video conferencing system. Matt and Chris preserve and ensure security and privacy of the video conferencing network and maintain hardware and software inventory. They also provide help desk support to all users and select products based on results of their technical evaluation and pricing studies. Matt and Chris research specifications for systems design, wiring plans and installation and plan and monitor the operation of the telehealth system. Lastly, they provide training for new users which includes district staff and new providers. Matt and Chris go above and beyond to assist users so the DPH network is utilized to its fullest potential.
Carolyn Griffin, Telehealth Accountant is responsible for following Universal Service Fund (USF) guidelines so the network circuits can get USAC reimbursement. Because USF/USAC is a federally run program it has many steps and is extremely detailed. Recently there have been changes to the USAC program which has required Carolyn to submit additional documentation and to have more communication with state partners. Without her efforts and knowledge of the federal program, the DPH network’s budget model would not be feasible.
Angela Griffin and Brenda Griffin, Telehealth Schedulers fulfill requests for conferences and meetings received via telephone and email. They also conduct minor troubleshooting if attendees experience difficulty. Both Angela and Brenda receive written and verbal accolades for their superior customer service.
The staffing level has remained constant while the demand for telehealth services has increased two-fold since the network began. In 2014 there were 293 endpoints, in 2017 that number has jumped to 475. With the increase in endpoints there is a need to enhance infrastructure. In 2006, there was 1 bridge that supported all telehealth services in the SEHD. The infrastructure currently consists of 460 routers and switches and 8 servers. On average there are 30 conferences a day. Statewide conferences usually have 150 plus participants. The SEHD telehealth team works with state telehealth partners to ensure the best customer service and videoconference experience is realized. The DPH network has been recognized as an innovator by other states and organizations and often entertains requests for technical assistance and program input.
- GA Dental Award of Merit: Carol Smith
Carol Smith, RDH, MSHA, entered her public health career with the support of a Dental Director. The Dental Director moved out of state to a new position shortly after Carol accepted her position. Carol continued with her assigned duties and took on the duties of the dental director for years until January 1, 2018, when DPH successfully recruited a new Dental Director. She was the first dental hygienist to lead the oral health section of MCH at the Department of Public Health in Georgia. Carol’s background includes years practicing dental hygiene in private practice in New York and Georgia, fourteen years as administrator of a dental hygiene program in Georgia, and with experience writing grants, accreditation documents, managing staff, running a large clinic, and as an educator Carol was more than qualified for the public health position.
While accomplishing the day to day work of managing the oral health program, Carol immediately began to search for quality, cost effective care especially for those with barriers to oral health services. She began to network and partner with public health programs and branched out to unify her messaging about the oral-systemic gap and the lack of integration of oral health into many medical practices. She wanted to unify the messaging so patients, oral health practitioners, and medical practitioners were all aware of and addressed the service gap and the importance of preventive oral services.
With Carol at the helm, the oral health section completed two third grade BSS, one Head Start BSS, and one older adult BSS. The older adult BSS was a pilot program and one of the first in the country to access the oral health needs of older adults.
In 2012 Carol played an integral part in planning the Georgia Oral Health Summit. The theme for the Summit was “Oral Health Access: Collaborating to Bridge the Gap.” The Summit brought together government, public health, academic, and professional organizations with private industry and healthcare providers to address oral health issues across Georgia. The summit was the launching pad for the development of regional oral health coalitions as branches of the Georgia Oral Health Coalition (GOHC).
Under Carol’s leadership Georgia is one of twenty states to be awarded a CDC Oral Health Cooperative Agreement (twice) and one of 6 with a Chronic Disease Oral Health Collaborative Agreement. These grants support staffing, educational programs, school based programs, and the community water fluoridation program.
As a result of her partnership with the Infectious Disease team at DPH on an issue with dental unit waterlines at a local dentist’s office, Carol received the Department of Public Health Partnership Award in 2016.
- Fred Agel Governance Award: Hannah Flynn
Mrs. Hannah Flynn was appointed to the Meriwether County Board of Health (MCBOH) in 2007 as licensed nurse interested in promoting public health. This appointment was a continuation of Ms. Hannah’s service to her community; she retired from MCBOH in 2000 after 17 years as a registered nurse, prior to that, she was a school nurse in the Meriwether County School system for over 10 years.
Ms. Hannah’s service to her community always extends way beyond her official duties or title though; she has always focused her energy on schools and youth groups. She started to run and oversee the concession stand at Greenville High School when her children attended in the mid-1970s, but long after her children had graduated and had their own children, she continued to run that concession stand at every ballgame even till today. She was honored by the School for her commitment by naming the stand “Hannah’s Place”.
In 1999, Ms. Hannah was diagnosed with lung cancer and had one lung removed. She stated, “God and I have a contract since my illness, I promised that I would give back to others.” She has lived up to that commitment since 1999 by becoming President for the Meriwether County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Chair of the Family Selection and Support Committee for Habitat, personally overseeing the construction of homes in the past, now focusing on serving food and supplies to the workers at the construction sites.
Ms. Hannah has been involved in the Greenville Lions Club for over 20 years and held various positions there. In 2015, she was elected District Governor of Lions 18.0. which includes 55 counties in Georgia. She traveled to Hawaii for the National Convention where she received this prestigious honor. In this position, her district covers 55 counties, Ms. Hannah has made it a priority to visit each county, many on multiple occasions, speaking on various topics and promoting projects for the Lions Club.
Mrs. Flynn is the leading advocate for Public Health in Meriwether County. She constantly refers people in need to the Health Department for services from Flu shots to Family Planning Services, and because of her commitment to the clients as member of staff and now as a Board of Health member, she is still remembered by most of the patients that come into the Health Department for her caring but frank bedside manner and her generous spirit. Every member of the Meriwether Health Department has heard at least one story from a client about Ms. Hannah’s generosity to them as children or young adults, often giving them a place to stay and a hot meal. Because of Ms. Hannah’s involvement in the community and known association with Public Health, Meriwether County Health Department is health refuge for the county and an asset to the community.
- Lillian D. Wald Public Health Nursing Award: Anita Barkin
Anita Barkin, MSN, NP, DrPH, has served as the Director of Nursing and Clinical Services for the North Central Health District since March 2015. Prior to assuming this position she was the director of Carnegie Mellon University Health Services for over 27 years. She received her doctorate in public health and her master of science in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a Board Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner.
Over the course of her career, she has held offices in local, regional and national college health associations. Dr. Barkin is Past President of the Mid-Atlantic College Health Association and served as President of the American College Health Association (ACHA) from June 2011 to May 2012. She has chaired the ACHA Affordable Care Act Transitional Issues Task Force and is past chair of the ACHA Coalition for Emerging Public Health Threats and Emergency Response Planning. She is a nationally recognized leader in the area of pandemic planning for colleges and universities. She has been the recipient of awards for outstanding scholarship and service including, the Lifetime Achievement Award from ACHA. She has been honored as a Distinguished Scholar by the University of Pittsburgh and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society for Nursing and the Delta Omega Honor Society for Public Health. Dr. Barkin has served as a clinical preceptor for doctoral level nurse practitioner students at several Pittsburgh universities. She is a peer reviewer for the American Journal of College Health and has served as a consultant for a number of university health services across the United States.
- Maggie Kline Nursing Award: Allen Rowland
Allen Rowland, FNP, is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Allen’s academic background includes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Magna Cum Laude, from Valdosta State University. While completing his undergraduate education, Allen became interested in serving underserved populations and participated in the U.S. Public Health Service COSTEP Extern Program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 1993.
After completing his baccalaureate degree, Allen was awarded a scholarship from the National Health Service Corps to pursue his graduate education. In 1997, he completed his Family Nurse Practitioner degree at Georgia Southern University. While completing this degree, Allen fulfilled all of his clinical training at a Federally Qualified Community Health Center and was able to participate in the National Health Service Corps Health Promotion Disease Prevention Project. To complete the scholarship commitment, Allen worked as a Nurse Practitioner at a large suburban Health Department in North Carolina.
Since 2000, Allen has been employed by the Southeast Health District and provides direct care to a diverse rural underserved population including women seeking Family Planning services for contraceptive needs, breast cancer screening, and cervical cancer screening. Allen is actively involved in the local preceptorship program for new Public Health Nurses as well as the annual peer review process.
Allen completed colposcopy training through the Emory Regional Training Center and has provided this care to more than 1000 rural uninsured/underserved women in the local communities. This increased access to care for women in Southeast Georgia assists in the early detection of disease resulting in improved health outcomes, better quality of life, and cost savings for the State of Georgia.
Allen remains committed to the mission of the Department of Public Health and the Southeast Health District to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare to underserved populations. In return, the local communities have seen direct and positive health outcomes.
- Ruth B. Freeman Nursing Award for Population Health: Teresa Evans
Teresa Evans, RN, BSN, BSP, MSCM, has dedicated her life to making a positive impact in the lives of others. For the last six years, Teresa has worked in both private and public healthcare fields and is currently a Public Health Nurse with the Bartow County Health Department and coordinator of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention Program.
Teresa moved into healthcare after successful careers in Social Services and Client Relations. Teresa no w applies her eighteen years of training, education, case management and project management experience to the nursing profession, with a goal to empower her patients with the necessary knowledge and tools they can use to create for themselves a healthy present and future.
Teresa believes in the power of knowledge and is currently working on her Master of Science in Healthcare Management and Informatics at Kennesaw State University, where she plans to apply her knowledge and experience to help drive change and build a strong and efficient healthcare infrastructure.
Teresa is adventurous and loves to travel.
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