The 17th annual Champions of Health awards took place virtually on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. Six winners were honored for their efforts to improve the health of Oklahomans. The evening featured KFOR News 4 anchor Ali Meyer as emcee, and four-time Super Bowl champion, author, and television personality Terry Bradshaw as keynote speaker.
Dr. Rodney L. Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health
Calm Waters Center for Children and Families is a support center for children and families who have experienced significant loss, including death, divorce, deployment, deportation, incarceration and foster/adoptive care issues. Camp Courage is Calm Waters’ annual 3-day,art-based summer camp that provides a safe and healing environment for children to express their feelings of loss and grief through art. Camp Courage introduces children to at least 10 different art forms that provide new outlets for kids to express their emotions and process their loss. Camp Courage is made possible by professional artists, facilitators, and trained Calm Waters volunteers who donate their time. Research has shown that giving children creative outlets during their grief journey reduces their stress and anxiety, improves their communication skills, and prevents long-term chronic dysfunction related to grief. Clients have expressed that Camp Courage helps their children feel less overwhelmed, more hopeful, teaches them new outlets for their feelings, and equips them with tools to face the future.
Champion of Senior Health
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) is honoring and respecting native traditions with its Elder’s Health Program. OKCIC is prioritizing the most vulnerable and valued American Indian community members, the elder population, by hosting an Elder’s Health Fair, Elder’s Council, and an Elder’s Honor Day. Its “Welcome to Medicare” visits provide elder patients with extended appointments for comprehensive needs assessments, treatment planning, and social services support. With the newly added on-site mammogram clinic and dentures program, OKCIC enhanced ancillary clinic capabilities to provide excellent senior health care services. Through these actions, OKCIC is saving lives and preserving the rich heritage of wisdom, strength, and resilience by investing in elders.
Finalist: RSVP of Central Oklahoma
Champion of Children's Health
Tulsa Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) recruits, trains, and supervises community volunteers to speak to the best interests of abused and neglected children in the court system. CASA volunteers serve just one case at a time and provide the court with critical information about the child’s situation and mental health, advocating for medical, emotional, physical, and educational needs. Children with a CASA receive more medical and mental health services, do better in school and are less likely to re-enter foster care. In 2019, 201 CASA volunteers served on 232 juvenile court cases and helped 448 children in Tulsa County. The Tulsa CASA program was the first program in the state to develop and implement a “Baby CASA” program on the Safe Babies Court Team. Today, Tulsa CASA serves on 100 percent of the cases on two dockets, providing critical early intervention and impressive outcomes for babies in need. In a national study, babies in Tulsa CASA Court cases were finding permanent, loving homes faster than anywhere else in the country.
Finalist: Pivot, A Turning Point for Youth
Champion of the Uninsured
Since 1959, the Oklahoma Dental Foundation (ODF) has been at the forefront of charitable dentistry in our state, providing oral health education to the public and creating a coordinated system for dentists to volunteer their professional services those in need. Oklahomans are twice as likely to lack dental insurance than the average American, making dental care unattainable for many. The Oklahoma Dental
Foundation steps in to provide Oklahomans with state-of-the-art dental care they may not otherwise have access to. ODF established the first mobile dental care program in the state, MobileSmiles Oklahoma, to increase access to care by bringing dental care directly into a community. Staffed with fourth-year dental students, overseen by an experienced dentist preceptor, MobileSmiles offers healing and hope for a health outcome many have given up on.
Finalist: Health Alliance for the Uninsured
Community Health Champion
NewView Oklahoma provides employment and rehabilitation services that empower people with vision loss to achieve their full potential for living independently. Combining state-of-the-art low-vision optometry with occupational therapy, NewView is the only provider of comprehensive low-vision services in Oklahoma, including neuro therapy for vision loss caused by traumatic brain injury. Of the 5,300 clients served statewide, 15 percent are veterans challenged by vision loss. VITAL (Veteran Independence Through Adaptive Living) provides rehabilitation and support services that help blind veterans live the full lives they deserve. NewView’s rehabilitation program focuses on getting working-age veterans with vision impairments back into the workforce and empowering older veterans challenged by vision loss with skills that enable them to remain living in their own homes. Support group services provide veterans and caregivers with opportunities for interaction and peer support that reduces the isolation of blindness and gives them hope for the future.
Finalist: Samantha McGee (Choctaw Nation’s Addressing Opioid Overdose Deaths Program)
Corporate Health Champion
Jackson County Memorial Hospital is a 49-bed rural hospital in Altus serving a 5-county area in Southwest Oklahoma. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, various groups within the hospital collaborated to produce innovations to preserve supplies and keep patients and staff safe. From creating Intubation Go-Bags to provide quick access to essential supplies, to using spare material from surgical kits to sew masks for visitors, the staff banded together to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. Teamwork and collaboration helped to create a cleaner, safer, and more efficient facility, which allows Jackson County Memorial Hospital to continue the life-saving treatments they provide to Oklahomans each day.
Finalist: Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma’s Employee First Culture Program
Note: The winner and finalists in the Corporate Health Champion category are not 501(c)(3) organizations, and are ineligible to receive grant funds.
The Champions of Health awards program is presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, in partnership with the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians, the Oklahoma Dental Association, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, the Oklahoma Primary Care Association, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma State Medical Association.