Michigan names 2016 Hometown Health Heroes, Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions

Contact: Jennifer Eisner 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: April 13, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – As part of National Public Health Week, the Michigan Public Health Week Partnership recently presented the 2016 recipients of the annual 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 within the past year. Two local health departments were honored as Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions for achieving the national recognition of being Project Public Health Ready. The local health departments are: Berrien County Health Department, and the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency.

To achieve Project Public Health Ready (PPHR) status, the health departments had to demonstrate 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.

The other distinguished 2016 Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions are:

Judge Donald Allen, Jr.

In 2008, Judge Allen was appointed to the 55th District Court by Governor Granholm where he presided over sobriety court. In 2016, he was made chief judge. The court promotes treatment instead of incarceration. One of his several successes include reduced recidivism.

Dr. Robert Graham

Dr. Graham recently retired as the medical director for the Central Michigan District Health Department. Dr. Graham was integral in quality improvement projects, and helped the health department achieve national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. In his commitment to the health of the citizens of central Michigan, he advocated for all children to be up to date on immunizations, and he insisted every client be treated with dignity and respect.

Dr. Harvey Leo

In 2014, Public Act 187 legislation required all Michigan K-12 school districts to stock epinephrine in schools for responding to an anaphylaxis emergency. Epinephrine requires a physician written prescription. School districts were challenged to find a prescribing physician until Dr. Harvey Leo agreed to write the prescriptions statewide.

Sharon Mortensen

Mortensen played a significant role in the development of a Midland County Health Improvement Plan. She brought together Midland community leaders and partners and secured the funding needed to complete a major survey of the community.  

In addition to the Jean Chabut Health Policy Champions, the Michigan Public Health Week Partnership presented the Hometown Health Hero award to the following individuals:

Colleen Chadderton

Chadderton organized two free clinics each year for the Head Start Program in the Jackson area. In the course of the last school year, these clinics provided health care to 497 children, which is about 65 percent of all children enrolled in the Jackson area Head Start program at no cost to the families. 

Project Bismutha

Project Bismutha’s mission is to educate on healthcare accountability while opening access to primary-care professionals for the at-risk, disadvantaged, new Iraqi and Syrian immigrant populations. The core value of their approach is to ensure the sustainability of their health and wellness programs and affiliates for those who have come to depend on these services.

Leslie Neubecker-Czubko

In 2010, Neubecker-Czubko opened a Farmers Market at the Eaton Rapids Medical Center. Neubecker-Czubko pursued making fresh, local produce available to everyone in the greater Eaton Rapids community, regardless of financial situation.

Jeanne Wigant

Wigant has participated in Hope Warming Shelter’s medical clinic for over a year. She has been able to identify the characteristics of certain disease processes and helped in developing a plan of action in those cases. In some instances, Wigant has also assisted in helping staff reach conclusions about a plan of care.

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 Health Improvement Alliance, Inc., Michigan Public Health Association, Michigan Public Health Institute, Michigan State University, University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Wayne State University.