Health Department honors employees and community members for their response to the pandemic | News, Sports, Jobs

picture by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Health Department IT Director Sonia Jordan speaks to her peers shortly after being named the winner of this year’s Kay Kent Achievement Award.

Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health spent an hour Wednesday afternoon looking back on the past year, honoring a health department employee and a group of community members for their efforts largely related to the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus.

During a lunch for LDCPH employees, Health Department IT Director Sonia Jordan was named the recipient of the Kay Kent Award of Excellence; Jordan’s other nominees were Alex Kimball-Williams, community health equity specialist for the health department, and certified medical assistant Ange Ericksen. The award was created in 2008 in honor of longtime health department director W. Kay Kent, who held the position for 33 years before retiring in 2006.

“As we sort of come out of two years of heavy work around COVID, the ability you saw at the Kansas State exhibit was, in part, driven by the vision and leadership that Kay showed no only here, but across the state of Kansas,” Health Department Director Dan Partridge said in his opening remarks to the group. “I will always appreciate his desire and drive for excellence. he continued to serve us well.

Kent was in attendance Wednesday afternoon and took a moment to say how proud she was of the health department’s work during the pandemic. With no roadmap for how things should have been done, she said she thought the staff were performing “admirably”.

A group of 10 peers nominated Jordan, who was named the winner minutes later. That group said they believe Jordan deserves the honor because she “lives the values ​​of the health department every day,” as evidenced by the way she handles the computer program.

Jordan was recognized last September as one of the Beaumont Foundation’s “40 Under 40 in Public Health”. His department was responsible for all disease investigations, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine and outbreak management, and coordinating vaccine distribution during the pandemic.

An emotional Jordan was initially at a loss for words, but eventually expressed her gratitude to her colleagues for their work during the pandemic and for her family, her job and her situation.

“It’s been a very difficult period of two to almost three years now, and I think if there’s anything I feel like I’ve learned from that, it’s that ultimately , there are only truly chosen things in life that matter,” Jordan said. “If you are blessed, like me, to have those things, then ending the day with gratitude is important.”

picture by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Health Department IT Director Sonia Jordan expresses gratitude to her public health colleagues Wednesday afternoon.

The health department also recognized two health champions: Brian Bradfield, vice president of ancillary and support services at LMH Health, and Allen Press sales director Elizabeth Stephens. Bradfield has been recognized for his role in working with the health department to roll out COVID testing and vaccinations. Stephens was honored for her involvement as an Equity Impact Advisor at Douglas County Unified Command, in which she worked to shape a more equitable response to the pandemic for members of the underserved community.

The University of Kansas School of Pharmacy was also honored and received the Healthier Together Award. Students and faculty in the department have been recognized for their assistance during mass vaccination clinics.

Although Wednesday was largely devoted to looking back on the past year, county health officer Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher spoke to the Journal-World ahead of the awards show about how which Douglas County is shaping up in the wake of the omicron push and in which direction public health is going to go from here. For now, Schrimsher said she is focused on returning to her normal scope of work in her role as an infectious disease physician at LMH Health.

Schrimsher said she’s also tried to encourage people who may have put off non-COVID care to get back into the habit of seeing their doctor regularly. It’s a challenge she has previously mentioned to the Journal-World as one that should be a point of attention at this point in the pandemic.

It’s also vital, she said, because delaying such care likely leaves people with conditions such as diabetes feeling worse and vulnerable to more serious effects for not seeking care when they needed it for the first time.