NACCHO Annual 2013 Awards

Jul 17, 2013, 12:03 PM

Mary Selecky, Former Health Secretary of Washington State Mary Selecky, Former Health Secretary of Washington State

Public health superstars as well as local health departments took home trophies from Dallas last week after receiving awards at the annual conference of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

Mary Selecky

The most cheered awardee was Mary Selecky, the former health secretary of Washington State who retired earlier this year after 34 years in leadership positions at the state and local health departments. Selecky accepted her award brandishing a condom and a small bottle of hand sanitizer—symbols of her tenure. And when Carol Moehrle, district director of Public Health-Idaho North Central District in Lewiston and a former NACCHO president, who helped present the award, asked conference attendees who had been mentored by Selecky to step toward the front of the room, the space in front of the podium filled quickly. Selecky received the Mo Mullet Lifetime of Service award, named for a former executive director of NACCHO who also attended this year’s conference.

Read a recent NewPublicHealth interview with Mary Selecky, reflecting on her years of service in public health.

Local Health Departments of the Year

This year NACCHO also awarded first time prizes to local health departments, with awards given to applicants who showed creativity; innovation; sufficient evidence of outcomes and impact on the community; and collaboration with partners, community members and key stakeholders.

Small Local Health Department Winner: Crook County Public Health Department in Crook County, Oregon with a population of 10,000

Among its many innovations, the department worked with community partners to sponsor a school-based health center run by the local Federally Qualified Health Center and is very engaged in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Medium Local Health Department Winner: Gaston County Health Department, Gaston County, North Carolina

The health department serves a little more than 200,000 residents and is working on ways to use data and data analysis to help improve health and reduce disparities. It also recently merged services with the Gaston County Department of Social Services. Prior to the merger, the health department analyzed the data needs of that agency and explored how it could use mapping to help jointly deliver services more efficiently and effectively. The health department is also training data-focused personnel and creating an informatics division, so the departments can further target outreach and intervention initiatives, and was an early adopter of electronic health records.

Large Local Health Department of the Year Winner: Denver Public Health, Denver, Colorado

Denver Public Health serves the 634,265 residents of the City and County of Denver, along with providing many services to a larger community of about 2.9 million residents within the seven-county Denver metro area.

Among the department’s innovations was a pilot project using a handheld scanner to record immunization information at mass programs. The department took on the pilot after its H1N1 mass immunization program several years ago, which was an all-paper and costly program. The pilot program scans data into a single electronic file during all entry points of immunization, which can then be sent to immunization registries. Data from the registries cam is analyzed to determine geographic pockets that need increased immunization efforts.

Read more about the inaugural local health department of the year winners.

Model Practice Program Awards

Close to 40 local health departments across the country received Model Practice Program awards for “implementing programs that demonstrate exemplary and replicable outcomes in response to an identified public health need.” The award winners were selected from more than 100 applications that were reviewed by peer local health department officials.

“Local health departments are constantly innovating as they help improve the lives of the people they serve,” said NACCHO Executive Director Robert M. Pestronk. “The Model Practice program recognizes and lifts up groundbreaking activities that leaders across the public health world can use in their own communities to promote health and safety.”

  • Winning model practices included:
  • Vendor and consumer safety education at farmers markets in Twin Falls, Idaho
  • A multimedia colonoscopy awareness campaign in Mt. Morris, New York
  • Skype observed therapy as a new technology for tuberculosis control in Nassau County, New York

>> Read more coverage of the NACCHO Annual 2013.


This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.