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University Park, Pa. – During November 2016, the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) presented three awards to honor organizations and individuals who took leadership roles in rural health causes.  The awards were presented in venues throughout the commonwealth by Lisa Davis, director of PORH and outreach associate professor of health policy and administration at Penn State, during Pennsylvania Rural Health Week, Nov. 14-18, which encompasses National Rural Health Day, held on Nov. 17.

On Nov. 14, community volunteer Ann Mumper of Punxsutawney County received the 2016 Rural Health Hero of the Year Award.  Mumper spearheaded the “Flight Packs for Patients Project,” which provides care packages for patients and their families who are life-flighted from the Punxsutawney Area Hospital to tertiary care hospitals in Pittsburgh.  Within each handmade cloth bag are items needed when traveling to a new area unexpectedly and in distress.

The 2016 Community Rural Health Leader of the Year Award was presented on Nov. 15 to Jack Dennis, grants and development manager for Wayne Memorial Health Systems in recognition of his efforts to advance rural health programming in northeast Pennsylvania.  Dennis has secured $10 million in grants for Wayne Memorial Health System which has increased and expanded access to rural health care services in northern Pennsylvania and has greatly benefited the community. D ennis also was recognized for implementing multiple 24/7 tele-health programs and securing funding for a low-cost dental clinic in the beginning of his career.

The 2016 Rural Health Program of the Year Award, which recognizes an exemplary health program that addresses an identified need in a rural community, was presented on Nov. 16 to St. Luke’s Miners Rural Health Clinics.  The St. Luke’s Miners Rural Health Program provides access to high quality primary, preventive, specialty, and acute care services for patients, regardless of their ability to pay.  The program also provides transportation via the “Miners Loop” shuttle and uses integrated community and preventive health initiatives.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) was selected to receive the 2016 Rural Health Legislator of the Year Award, which recognizes a Pennsylvania legislator for outstanding work and support of rural health initiatives that address an identified need in their district or across the state.  In the nomination, Casey was recognized for sponsoring legislation that addresses rural health needs and for his demonstrated effective leadership in rural communities.  A major focus of his recent efforts is focused on fighting the opioid epidemic, a prevalent epidemic in many rural Pennsylvania counties.  Casey will be presented with the award in the near future.

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.