[Glens Falls, NY] – Adirondack Health Institute honored six individuals as 2021 Rural Health Champions at the 2021 North Country Leadership Summit. The annual recognition is a collaborative effort of six of the North Country’s Rural Health Networks, including the Adirondack Rural Health Network (ARHN), a program of AHI, supported with funds from the NYS Department of Health Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health.

Since 2015, the Rural Health Networks in Northern New York ask their network partners to nominate individuals who exemplify the selfless, community-minded, can-do spirit that prevails in rural America. This year, ARHN sought to identify individuals who showed exemplary selflessness, leadership, and continued delivery of outstanding care in the community during these unprecedented times.

2021 Rural Health Champions:

Barry Brogan, North Country Behavioral Healthcare Network

An excerpt from his nomination read: “Barry has been a leader in the field of behavioral health since before behavioral health was recognized by the medical community. He has strong skills as a collaborator and facilitator, helping Network members find common ground and shared strategic direction. A strong advocate, Barry has been a leader for advocacy in both Albany and Washington. He understands how government policies are developed and help both NCBHN and NYSARH members educate lawmakers more effectively. Barry is a staunch supporter of rural communities, people, and lifestyles. He understands that rural is not small urban, but rather has its own culture and values, which Barry shares. As Barry retires from NCBHN, I think it is appropriate to recognize him for ‘making a lasting contribution to the rural health care system’. I can think of few others who have done more.”

Brenda Stiles, Adirondacks ACO

An excerpt from his nomination read: “Brenda Stiles has been a leader in the North Country - driving primary care transformation and serving as a change agent for clinical quality improvement. In the past year, she has gone above and beyond when the University of Vermont Medical Center experienced a cyberattack in late October 2020. Brenda visited practices and got them setup to access Hixny’s provider portal so clinicians would have the information they needed. Without this, the care that patients needed might have been delayed. Brenda has also coached practices on strategies to improve performance on clinical quality measures, including controlling hypertension, blood sugar control for diabetics and depression screening and follow-up. Through this work, she has collaborated with Hixny to provide tools and resources to support practices as they work to meet recommended standards of care for their patients.”

Linda Beers, Essex County Health Department

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Linda Beers guided Essex County through the devastating COVID-19 crisis with minimal impact to county residents. Her leadership included the establishment of an effective contact tracing operation in record time. Linda’s unrelenting positive attitude and infectious smile inspired many to persevere through the darkest days of COVID-19. Linda has been the driving force behind the Essex County Heroin Opioid Coalition and has worked tirelessly to deal with the opioid epidemic. Her support of a harm reduction approach has helped others see the wisdom of harm reduction as a way forward.”

Terri Morse, Essex County Mental Health

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Terri is one of the hardest working people that I have ever worked with. Her dedication to the people of Essex County is evident in every decision she makes. She is guided by a vision focused on healing generational trauma. In this vein, she has created BRIEF, Building Resilience in Essex Families, a coalition which brings community provided of all kinds together to improve collaborative efforts to support families.”

Shaun Gillilland, Essex County Board of Supervisors

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Chairman Gillilland goes above and beyond to assure that the needs of Essex County citizens are met. He advocates for the entire North Country region at the State and local level. He has been integral in moving public health concerns forward and facilitating solutions. During the pandemic, he worked with county government officials and our health department to identify champions in each township to provide grocery/food options. Having each local store sympathetic to the needs of others and providing individualized strategies for addressing the food deserts that exist throughout our vast region. He fully supported the Essex County Health Department’s COVID-19 response activities, encouraging the Essex County Board of Supervisors to embrace their dual role as the Essex County Board of Health, leading by example. As a farmer himself, he uniquely understands the struggle of our rural workforce and collaborates with community-based organizations to address these concerns and advocates at the state level for reform.”

Carrie Reardon, Adirondack Health

An excerpt from her nomination read: “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago, Carrie has been central to Adirondack Health’s ongoing clinical response. Thanks in no small part to Carrie’s efforts, Adirondack Health vaccinated more than 3,000 North Country residents. Carrie was the driving force behind creating one of the region’s first COVID-19 clinics and it was Carrie who personally called each COVID-positive patient. She served as a resource and communicator of all things COVID-related. She did all these things - and countless others - with enthusiasm, professionalism, and a razor-sharp wit. Adirondack Health, and the communities we serve, are lucky to have her here.”

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