2015 Awards

Al Grant Award - Pete DeBusk

Al Grant has been an instrumental figure in the birth and growth of State Rural Health Associations across the nation. There are 36 state associations in total. He is truly a proponent of rural life and is the ideal embodiment of the citizen legislator, combining his public health knowledge with political savvy and persistence to better the State of Tennessee and its citizens. This award is bestowed upon an individual who has exhibited above-and-beyond exemplary-initiative in forwarding the cause of rural health in Tennessee over the person’s career. This recipient should display the ability to bring together multi-faceted individuals to the common good of the health of all rural citizens of Tennessee.

Dr. Pete DeBusk was raised on a farm in rural Appalachia where Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia meet in the Cumberland mountain range. Dr. DeBusk attended Lincoln Memorial University and University of Georgia. He founded STAT Medical in 1973 which in 1982 has grown into DeRoyal Industries, Inc., and its affiliates. Today, it is one of the most well-known aggressive medical device manufacturers in the international healthcare market. Dr. DeBusk says that he is no great inventor, but is good at noticing needs and problems and finding solutions. As Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) he set out to guide the university to meet the community education needs. In 2005, as part of the Med-Pac committee, he was educated about the shortage of primary care physicians in the region and nationally. He saw an opportunity to leverage his experience and resources to develop a medical school at LMU. Osteopathic medicine was chosen as the focus for the medical school, because 60 to 70 percent of graduates are estimated to become family practitioners, of which there is a shortage in Tennessee that is acutely felt in rural communities. Due to the additional need for health care professionals, in 2009 the LMU-DCOM Physician Assistant Program was established to assist in alleviating the shortage of mid-level health care providers. In 2012-2013, Dr. DeBusk personally approached several funders with the idea of bringing “One Health” and Veterinary Education to the Appalachian region in response to the shortage of Veterinarians. In 2014, LMU opened the doors to the inaugural class of the LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine. There were 96 in the LMU-CVM Class of 2018. Thanks to Dr. Pete DeBusk, the regions residents are being provided with increased access to health care, health literacy, preventive services and health education by the physicians, faculty and students in rural areas of Tennessee, Appalachia and beyond.

Eloise Q. Hatmaker Distinguished Service Award - Mary Vance

This award recognizes an individual who has contributed outstanding service to the Association and rural health over a period of years. Eloise Q. Hatmaker was instrumental in the establishment of the State Office of Rural Health. As its first director, Ms. Hatmaker worked toward alleviating health workforce shortages in rural areas and also helped establish the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.

Mary Vance is the Executive Director of the Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic and was instrumental in its development. Although the clinic is not located in a rural area of Sevier County, patients come from the rural corners of the county as well as other adjacent rural counties. Others who know Mary tell us that she has always had a deep passion for anything that is about rural health and access to it. In addition to her position at her clinic, Mary has held the chair position on the Rural Health Association of Tennessee’s Legislative and Policy Committee and is current Chair of the East Tennessee Regional Health Council which represents 15 counties in East Tennessee.nShe has guided the policy positions which support rural healthcare for the state. Mary was instrumental in the formation of the Tennessee Charitable Care Network (TCCN) and is committed to our vision of a strong, compassionate health care safety net for all Tennesseans in need. A founding board member, she currently serves on the TCCN Board of Directors and as the Chair of the TCCN Public Policy Committee. In this role, she is a tireless advocate for the uninsured and underserved all across Tennessee.

Rural Health Practitioner of the Year - Dr. Jim Shine

This award is given to a direct service provider honored for leadership in bringing health services to citizens of rural Tennessee. Factors considered: must be a provider (physician or mid-level provider); must provide outstanding care; must be involved in the community; and must be providing a lasting contribution to the rural health care system in Tennessee.

Dr. Jim Shine is an integral part of the inter-professional Rural Training Track associated with the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing and the Quillen College of Medicine, training nursing and medical students in Johnson County, Tennessee for many years. He is a leader in his community who inspirers leadership in his mentees. He is a quietly passionate and expert physician who know how to move each learner along the development continuum toward professional expertise. Dr. Shine is the epitome of what a rural family doctor should look like. His personal commitment to evidence-based patient-centered care is exemplary. His patients clearly love and respect him. The students who work with him can see what a difference his care model can make in the outcomes of his patients. His students have had this to say, “It's hard to put in to words but you just knew that he cared about you as a student and as a person. He taught us a lot about compassion, team work and leadership.”

Rural Health Worker of the Year - Tonya Garner

This award is bestowed upon an individual who has made an outstanding contribution of major significance to rural health and is a member of the Association. Consideration shall be given to all areas of rural health. Nomination information should indicate that the individual’s efforts have surpassed normal expectations and that efforts are exemplary of the dedication to the advancement of the health of the public.

Tonya Garner’s name is synonymous with public health and wellness initiatives in Grundy County. She is known and trusted throughout the county as one who has the knowledge, skills, compassion and care to deliver effective programs that are improving outcomes for residents of rural Grundy and Franklin Counties. Tonya goes far above and beyond in providing Grundy County residents with health and wellness activities. Not only does she provide public health education programs offered by the Tennessee Department of Health (such as Baby and Me and Smoking Cessation), but she collaborates with other agencies, businesses, universities and individuals to offer even more opportunities to residents of Grundy County. Tonya Garner is working hard to improve health statistics in Grundy and Franklin counties. In part due to her efforts, Grundy County’s health rankings have improved from ranking 87 out of 95 for health factors (health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment) in 2014, to 84 out of 95 health factors in 2015.

Collaboration Award - South Cumberland Health Network

This award recognizes an outstanding individual, organization, company, governmental unit or other entity that has worked jointly with others to develop a process to achieve a common goal toward the betterment of rural health. This awardee demonstrates a team spirit that has motivated others to work with a positive synergy to cross disciplines or regions. This positive attitude and spirit of cooperation has transcended boundaries to ensure progress toward meeting the needs of our rural health communities.

Collaboration has been a key priority of the South Cumberland Health Network. In the beginning, the group consisted of representatives of the Grundy Health Council, the University of the South, Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System, the Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic, Delta Dental, Southern Tennessee Regional Health System and Mountain TOP Ministries. As we have grown, we have increasingly developed cross-sector collaborations, including the local public schools, churches, government officials, law enforcement agencies, public universities (UTK, UTC and MTSU) and regional hospitals (Erlanger and Park Ridge). We collaborated with the Chattanooga Medical Foundation to conduct six ACA Marketplace enrollment events in three counties, assisting over sixty previously-uninsured people. We partnered with Yale University to host two interns who assisted us with analysis of local data collected over the course of the year. We completed application for Grundy County’s designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community. And we are proud to have been selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Roadmaps to Health Coaching Program. We are committed to the program’s goal “to strengthen communities’ capacity to create a culture of health for all residents.”

Award of Merit - Karen & Steve Wickham

This award recognizes any individual, group of individuals, or agency, which made an outstanding contribution of major significance to the rural health movement. Nominees need not be association members. Factors taken into consideration include: broad benefits to health, innovative programs, unusual contributions or activities that provide outstanding benefit to the public’s health and are consistent with the goals and objectives of the Association. The nominating agency should not consider longevity, discipline, popularity, and service generally expected in one’s job. There will be no special consideration given to nominees who are anticipating retirement or have just retired.

Karen and Steve are both registered nurses and have dedicated their lives to helping others. After moving to Grundy County, Karen became involved with the health council and learned about a grant available through Marshall University for programs supporting chronic disease self-management. She and her husband were passionate about educating the community about diabetes and ways to possibly reverse it. Karen spent endless hours gathering data, writing objectives and getting letters of support from the community. The grant application was turned in and $160,000 was awarded to the county for Diabetes Prevention and Control.

Karen has worked with Friends of South Cumberland Plateau and the state parks to leverage monies to put in new playground equipment at the park in Tracy City. She also assists in serving healthy, diabetic friendly samples to the Food Bank on Tuesdays. Since February Karen has written about 42 health articles for the Grundy County Herald. She always includes activities going on in the community and ways for people to get healthier. Steve and Karen are relentless when it comes to working for this community. They are dedicated to sharing the knowledge that they work so hard to gain. They have touched the lives of close to 100 people in this community. Together, Stephen and Karen Wickham have dedicated over 216 hours of class time, at least 400 hours in curriculum hours, 100 hours of training and planning and 25 hours in community outreach events, for a total of close to 750 hours. There is no one in this county more deserving of an award more than this couple.

Presidential Awards - Angie Dotson,  Elaine Jackson & Aaron Haynes

President Bill Jolley bestowed these awards to individuals who have assisted him and the Association significantly through out the past year. Both Angie Dotson and Elaine Jackson provided valuable support in their roles as conference chair and Middle Tennessee Vice President.

In recognition of the long-standing support from the UT Offices of Graduate and Continuing Medical Education, Aaron Haynes, Director, was presented with a special Presidential Award. Thank you for your many years of support which has contributed to the success of the Rural Health Association of Tennessee.

Legislator of the Year - Steve McDaniel

Nominated by the Rural Health Association of Tennessee Legislative Committee Representative Steve McDaniel was selected to receive the 2015 Legislator of the Year award. Representative Steve McDaniel (R—Parkers Crossroads) represents the 72nd House District in West Tennessee. Representative McDaniel lives in rural Tennessee and knows the issues and challenges of rural Tennesseans. He also knows the strength, beauty and values of rural Tennessee and is people. Last winter, Representative McDaniel introduced SB411/HB309, known as the “Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco and Vapor Products Act”, and was successful in addressing as many concerns as possible in one single piece of legislation by working with a variety of interested organizations including The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Rural Health Association of Tennessee, Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, the tobacco industry, and many other organizations. The Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco and Vapor Products Act was the culmination of his efforts to establish the legal framework to protect Tennessee’s youth and the general public. This bill expanded the definition of “vapor products” and imposed restrictions to access to vapor products in the retail markets across Tennessee. One purpose was to prohibit the sale or distribution of vapor products to, or purchase of vapor products on behalf of, persons under eighteen (18) years of age. This bill was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law as Public Chapter 353 by Governor Bill Haslam.

Representative McDaniel is the epitome of a public servant he serves for the common good. He has represented the 72nd House District since 1989. Representative McDaniel has always been available to RHAT and its policy concerns. He is a true friend of Rural Tennessee.

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