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University Park, Pa. – Wayne Memorial Health Systems Grants and Development Manager Jack Dennis received the 2016 Community Rural Health Leader of the Year Award, which was presented by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) at a Nov. 15 event at Wayne Memorial Health System in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.  The award was presented during Rural Health Week in Pennsylvania, Nov. 14-18, by Lisa Davis, director of PORH and outreach associate professor of health policy and administration at Penn State.  The week encompasses Nov. 17, which is National Rural Health Day, established in 2011 by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.

The Community Rural Health Leader of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding leader who has organized, led, developed or expanded an exemplary multi-dimensional rural community health program or initiative and who has demonstrated leadership to a rural community health program.

The nomination, submitted by Donna Decker and Jean Tuttle, recognized Dennis for his focus on addressing two major rural health issues in his position at Wayne Memorial Hospital:  access and breadth of services.  In the last 20 years, he has secured millions of dollars in competitive grants to increase access to and expand health care services in northern Pennsylvania.

Dennis helped secure federal and state funding to open a low-cost dental clinic for children through the Together for Health Dental Center and mobile dental van shortly after he was hired at Wayne Memorial.  He then helped secure the federally qualified health center (FQHC) designation for that dental center as well as several primary care offices in the area.  Dennis also showed his commitment to rural health by focusing his compassion and grant writing sophistication to secure grants and services for the Wayne Memorial Community Health Center (WMCHC).  With his expertise, WMCHC was granted approximately $10 million in grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, All One, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine programs, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Community-Based Health Care Program, and more.

Additionally, Dennis helped implement a 24/7 tele-neurology program for stroke victims, a tele-radiology program, a tele-neonatology program, and has volunteered for both United Way and Habitat for Humanity.  According to Decker and Tuttle, Dennis is a vital component of the Wayne Memorial Health System and his commitment to the community impacts individuals in tremendous ways.

PORH was established in 1991 to enhance the health status of rural Pennsylvanians and strengthen the delivery and quality of care in the communities in which they live.  Each year, the organization presents awards to recognize rural health programs and individuals who have made substantial contributions to rural health in Pennsylvania.  To learn more about the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, visit porh.psu.edu.

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Editors:  For additional information, please contact Terri Klinefelter, Outreach Coordinator, Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, at 814-863-8214 or tjc136@psu.edu.