The fourth annual Champions of Health awards took place on Monday, October 8, 2007, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Thirteen winners were honored for their efforts to improve the health of Oklahomans. The evening's speakers included 2006 Miss America Jennifer Berry as emcee and former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts as keynote speaker.
Jack C. Montgomery Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Muskogee was named 2007 Champion of Oklahoma Health, the highest honor of the Champions of Health awards. The center's new inpatient rehabilitation unit and prosthetic services program are being recognized for their commitment to help veterans, including those who have served in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, achieve their highest level of functional independence and improve quality of life. The 20-bed unit provides needed services to veterans who would otherwise drive 135 miles to the nearest VA medical center in Oklahoma City. Patients are now able to secure these resources in the same location as they get their primary care.
There was a tie for this category and, therefore, two winners:
Mobile Dental Care Program, Oklahoma City
Created by the Oklahoma Dental Foundation (ODF) in 2005, the Mobile Dental Care Program helps volunteer dentists to treat low-income and uninsured children and adults across the state, using a fully-equipped mobile dental care unit with leading-edge equipment. The mobile dental unit is the only fully-mobile unit of its type in the state.
R. Murali Krishna, M.D., Health Alliance for the Uninsured , Oklahoma City
In collaboration with physicians, hospitals and community partners, the Health Alliance for the Uninsured launched a pilot project in three Oklahoma City metro-area free clinics to improve access to health care for the uninsured. The project addresses the need for a successful free clinic system in Oklahoma County to provide the uninsured a "medical home" and consistent and timely access to quality health care. The free clinic system provides routine, preventive and non-emergency care through a family physician.
LIFE Senior Services , Tulsa
LIFE Senior Services' Medicare Prescription Assistance Coalition was created to assist Oklahoma's low-income seniors and disabled adults with Medicare Part D application and enrollment. LIFE has created the most complete response to issues surrounding Medicare Part D in Oklahoma.
The OSDH Wellness Program is a very good example of the state's largest public health agency leading the way to better health. The program has expanded from a small number of lunchtime programs to a major commitment to improve the health and well-being of every state employee. Regular smoking cessation programs, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes, stair climbers club, aerobics and yoga classes, massage therapy, weight loss programs and an on-site farmers' market are offered to employees.
Farm-to-School Initiative , Poteau
The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Oklahoma Food Policy Council collaborated for five years to set up a state farm-to-school program that would positively impact the health of Oklahoma's youth. Through their efforts, school cafeterias in more than 400 schools in 35 school districts across the state now serve high quality, fresh produce purchased from local farms. The program also teaches students about food, nutrition, gardening and cooking. Children are encouraged to get excited about healthy food and change their eating habits for the better.
Project Stop, Prevent, and Intervene with Tobacco Use (SPIT), Antlers
Project SPIT is a Communities of Excellence program working to reduce the burden of suffering, illness and death caused by tobacco. Working with school districts, cities, employers and the general public, Project SPIT and local Turning Point Coalitions educate youth, lawmakers and specific populations in southeastern Oklahoma. The goal of Project SPIT is to change the attitudes and social norms of tobacco use.
A federally qualified health center located in Tulsa, La Conexion Medica provides affordable, accessible quality health care to all individuals, regardless of ability to pay. Spanish-speaking Latinos make up 69 percent of the patients served by La Conexion Medica. The health center provides primary health care and mental health care on-site and, through a public/private partnership with Regional Medical Lab, provides complete lab services to patients at a discounted rate.
There was a tie for this category and, therefore, two winners:
The TCC nursing program partnered with the Tulsa Hospital Council and local vocational technical schools to develop and implement an innovative avenue for working LPNs to pursue their goal of becoming registered nurse. Through this successful collaborative partnership, the TCC Nursing LPN-RN Nursing Advanced Placement (NAP) program was created.
Improving the health and well-being of rural Oklahomans, more than half of the state's population, is the focus of the OSU Center for Rural Health. The center achieves positive results through osteopathic student education and residency training, research, program applications, advocacy and alliances with other organizations that share the same goals. The center uniquely impacts osteopathic physicians and their rural practices, providing support services and strengthening the broader health care delivery systems in the rural communities where they practice. Physicians are prepared for the unique challenges of rural medicine, ensuring that quality physicians are available in rural towns to take care of residents.
The Journal Record , Oklahoma City
Featuring a weekly section devoted to the health care industry, including a platform for industry voices, The Journal Record has shown unflinching dedication in keeping the community informed of health care issues at all levels, including legislative, consumer and the health care industry. Additionally, The Journal Record produces an annual guide to health care resources in Oklahoma, which is distributed throughout the state free-of-charge.
Ron Saizow, M.D. and Steve Meixel, M.D., Bedlam Longitudinal Clinic , Tulsa
Drs. Ron Saizow and Steve Meixel are teaching Oklahoma University (OU)-Tulsa medical students how to build a working health care system for the twenty-first century based on a team approach that includes nursing, pharmacy and social work professionals, providing care based on patients' needs and priorities. Saizow and Meixel teach medical students the importance of providing patients what they need and expect, while forming quality relationships to create lasting improvements to patient health.
Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland, Oklahoma City
An outspoken advocate on the national level for Oklahoma seniors, Holland's testimony before the United States Congress led to legislation designed to safeguard seniors from deceptive marketing tactics by some Medicare Advantage health plans. Holland hosted two insurance summits attended by health care providers, insurance industry representatives, legislators, business leaders and the public health community to address the high cost of health care.