Michigan names 2015 Hometown Health Heroes, Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – As part of Michigan Public Health Week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human (MDHHS) Director Nick Lyon recently joined the Michigan Public Health Week Partnership at the State Capitol to announce the 2015 recipients of the Hometown Health Hero Award and the Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion Award.

This year’s awardees have made a variety of contributions to protect and improve the health of our state. Seven local health departments were honored as Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions for achieving the national recognition of being Project Public Health Ready. The seven local health departments are: Allegan County Health Department, Barry-Eaton District Health Department, Calhoun County Health Department, Ionia County Health Department, Kent County Health Department, and the Van Buren – Cass District Health Department.

To be chosen, the departments had to demonstrate through Project Public Health Ready (PPHR) their preparedness and response capability by meeting a comprehensive set of nationally-recognized standards. PPHR standards focus on three main goals: all-hazards planning, workforce development, and demonstrating readiness through exercises and real events, and are aligned with federal government requirements and national best practices. These health departments join more than 400 agencies across the country that have achieved PPHR recognition since 2004.

In addition to the Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions, MDHHS also announced the 2015 Hometown Health Heroes. Elizabeth Kelly of Oakland County; Mr. Tom Pirnstill of Clare County; and Ms. Octavia Smith of Wayne County, were chosen as the 2015 recipients.

Ms. Kelly has been a long-standing advocate for the homeless. Her most recent endeavor is to provide recuperative care to people discharged “to home” from the hospital and had no home to go to. Ms. Kelly’s efforts, with support from the Oakland County Health Division, have resulted in the creation of a 10-bed unit to provide this type of care.

Mr. Pirnstill is the Director of the Clare County Transit Corporation. Mr. Pirnstill and his late wife started a health fair for the needy in their county to provide free health screenings as well as one-on-one meetings with health professionals, local organizations and businesses. Following the passing of his wife, the organizing committee renamed the health fair in her honor. Mr. Pirnstill also started a program to gather usable medical equipment from people who didn’t need them anymore and give them to people that did need them free of charge.

Ms. Smith is a Community Health Worker (CHW) in Inkster who went above and beyond her everyday job responsibilities by organizing a program for adolescent girls and their mothers at a local library to teach them basic women’s health. Ms. Smith’s group provides a safe place for young women to ask questions and engage in dialogue about issues that directly impact them.

The Michigan Public Health Week Partnership consists of the following organizations: Grand Valley State University, Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Association for Local Public Health, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Public Health Association, Michigan Public Health Institute, Michigan State University, University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Wayne State University.

For more information about the Michigan Public Health Week Partnership, the Hometown Health Hero Award, or the Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion Award, please contact the Partnership coordinator: Jim Koval at the Office of Public Health Preparedness at kovalj@michigan.gov, or visit the MDHHS website here.