2018 Public Health Award Winners Announced

2018 Public Health Award Winners Announced

Three organizations and two individual working to address health issues in the community will receive the 2018 Ramsey County Public Health Award at a meeting of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. The annual awards, sponsored by Saint Paul - Ramsey County Public Health, recognize individuals and groups who have made exceptional contributions to improving health by advancing health equity in the county. 

The 2018 Ramsey County Public Health Award winners are:

  • Saint Paul Public Schools -- Dayton’s Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary, the district’s Student Placement Center, and Somali Cultural Specialist Mohamed Hadi for their work to promote immunizations before and during the 2017 measles outbreak.
  • Shoreview resident Eugene Nichols for his leadership in reducing youth access to tobacco products and his long-standing work promoting health, mental health and wellbeing.
  • United Family Medicine and the Mitchell Hamline School of Law for their partnership to help clinic patients address legal issues that affect health.

"Our 2018 award winners worked on a range of different issues, but all demonstrated a common understanding that partnership and collaboration are essential to advancing health equity,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Jim McDonough. “Many hands coming together is the best way to solve health challenges in our community.”

The award presentation coincides with National Public Health Week, April 2 -8. “Public Health is uniquely positioned to facilitate and encourage partnerships between people and organizations across the private and public sector to advance health equity” said Anne M. Barry, Director of Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health. “The awards we present during National Public Health Week underscore that it’s up to all of us to advance health and racial equity by addressing the social, environmental and behavioral factors that impact health.”

Nominations for the awards were solicited from the public earlier this year. This is the fourth year Public Health has recognized individuals and groups for their work. Nominations for the 2019 Ramsey County Public Health Awards will be accepted starting in January. Find more information on the awards, including a list of past honorees, at www.ramseycounty.us/publichealthawards

More information about the 2018 Public Health Award winners:

Saint Paul Public Schools

In the spring and summer of 2017, Minnesota experienced the largest outbreak of measles since 1990. The outbreak sickened 79 people, primarily children under 10 years of age, most who were unvaccinated for measles. Seventy of the cases were in Hennepin County, three in Ramsey County and the rest in other counties.

Saint Paul Public Schools are being recognized for their exemplary work before and during the measles outbreak to promote immunizations and build “herd” or community immunity -- a situation where infectious disease is unlikely to spread because a high percentage of the population has been immunized.

Dayton's Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary School is a leader across schools in Ramsey County for having 100 percent of their students vaccinated. This exceptional rate has been achieved despite the challenge of a student population where 92 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. The vaccinations offered in the school nurses office fits together with the Achievement Plus model where the school and community provide other wrap around health and social services to ensure academic success.

Mohamed Hadi is a Somali Cultural Specialist for the Family Engagement and Community Partnerships division of the Saint Paul Public Schools. During the 2017 measles outbreak, Hadi showed leadership in reaching out to the Somali community through a variety of places where young families gather. On Fridays during the peak of the outbreak, he routinely met with imams prior to prayer to share current information about measles. At community events, he partnered with a Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health epidemiologist to provide information and answer questions. Working across civic and school district boundaries was key in controlling the spread of measles in 2017.

The Student Placement Center in Saint Paul Public Schools is the welcome center for new and returning students, educating families about requirements for school entry and supporting efforts to immunize children. Last year, Placement Center health staff administered 1,423 vaccinations to 574 students. Nurses at the Placement Center serve as an immunization resource for all school nurses in Saint Paul and field questions daily on disease prevention and control. They communicate skillfully, with a racial equity lens, supporting health equity with bilingual staff and materials translated into languages families can read.

Community Volunteer Eugene Nichols

Eugene Nichols is a long-standing community leader and volunteer who has generously donated his time and talents to improving health and advancing health equity in Ramsey County. A retired 3M Health Care Division Manager, Nichols currently serves as Board Chair at Open Cities Health Center, chairs the African American Leadership Forum-Health and Wellness Group and serves on Shoreview's Human Rights Commission. He is also a member of Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health’s Community Health Services Advisory Committee, and chairs the Mental Health and Well-being Action Team.

Nichols was nominated for his tireless efforts to engage the community, raise awareness and ensure citizen’s voices are heard on a range of issues from healthy eating, active living and tobacco use, to nurse home visiting, mental health and well-being. Nichols is credited with a great ability to facilitate dynamic community dialogue and skill in guiding collaborative partnerships to stay focused to achieve their goals.

Nichols was the project manager of a recent African-American Leadership Forum survey of menthol tobacco use and coordinated subsequent forums that engaged African American community leaders, churches and citizens on this issue. Data from the survey was shared with county and city governments which informed decisions on a county resolution in support of restricting youth access to menthol products, and a Saint Paul City Council ordinance limiting the sale and youth access to flavored and menthol products.

United Family Medicine and Mitchell Hamline School of Law's Medical Legal Partnership

In 2015, United Family Medicine (UFM) partnered with the Mitchell Hamline School of Law to launch a Medical Legal Partnership at UFM primary healthcare clinics. The partnership enables Mitchell Hamline law students to provide legal assistance to patients under the supervision of a university staff attorney.

The Medical Legal Partnership team is on‐site at UFM three days a week, meeting with patients in a location they know and trust. The partnership has been successful in helping patients at the clinic address legal issues that affect their health and the health of their families. Over the course of the partnership, the students and managing attorney have met with more than 300 patients.

While some patients are referred to external sources, the partnership team takes on a variety of cases. Many patients have basic questions that can be addressed with education and do not require legal counsel. Major issues addressed include understanding short‐term disability, the Family and Medical Leave Act, employment discrimination and employee rights, immigrant laws and rights, landlord tenant laws, and the basics of Social Security.

There are 14 Medical Legal Partnerships in Minnesota, the UFM-Mitchell Hamline collaboration is the only one at a community health center in Ramsey County.  Both UFM and Mitchell Hamline School of Law are active in the Upper Midwest Healthcare Learning Collaborative which continues to explore best practices and strategies to achieve long‐term sustainability with other Medical Legal Partnerships in Minnesota.

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Contact: Chris Burns, Communications Manager, Health and Wellness, 651-266-2537

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