The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) today celebrates National Rural Health Day. In order to maintain COVID-19 precautions, this year’s event is a virtual celebration, highlighting the winners of SCORH’s six annual awards.
“Every year on National Rural Health Day, we pause to celebrate the ‘power of rural,’ and to honor the work being done by our rural healthcare providers and partners to make our communities stronger and healthier,” said Dr. Graham Adams, CEO of SCORH. “With all the challenges that 2020 has brought, we have seen our rural communities rally again and again to take care of each other. Our six annual award winners represent just a few examples of the dedication and hard work we’ve seen across rural South Carolina this year.”
The winners of SCORH’s six annual awards represent healthcare providers, community programs, health initiatives, and local heroes who have shown leadership and innovation in serving their rural communities.
The 2020 Rural Practitioner of the Year Award was given to Tina Fowler, a nurse practitioner with Primary Care of Union. This award is presented to a rural primary health care practitioner whose service and community commitment have resulted in significant improvement of primary health care services.
“Tina Fowler opened her own clinic in Union County so that she could serve her community. Her positive attitude inspires her patients and staff,” said Shannon Chambers, SCORH’s director of provider solutions.
The 2020 Outstanding Community Health Project or Initiative Award was given to the Clarendon County Fire Rescue Community Paramedic Program. This award is presented to a community health project or initiative, either for an educational program or direct service that has positively impacted a community’s health services.
“The Clarendon Community Paramedic Program is dedicated to providing this innovative model and doing whatever it takes to continue the program for their community because they have seen the positive impact it yields,” said Britton Herbert, a program manager for health system innovation at SCORH. “They strive to grow their program and help other organizations develop community paramedicine initiatives. Through the COVID-19 public health emergency, they responded quickly and have adapted to meet the needs of their community.”
The 2020 Rural Health Provider of the Year Award was given to Fairfield Medical Associates. This award is presented to a Rural Health Clinic, community health center, private practice, hospital, or other provider of rural health services where the health status of a rural community was significantly enhanced.
“Fairfield Medical Associates is a high-performing practice that focuses on taking care of their community,” Chambers said. “With the high-quality measures that they have in place, they continue to be one of the strongest Rural Health Clinics that we have in South Carolina.”
The 2020 Power of Rural Award was given to FoodShare SC. This award is presented to a community-based project, program or initiative that has embodied the spirit of the “Power of Rural” by demonstrating and/or showcasing positive attributes of rural South Carolina, including those that are outside of the healthcare services sector.
“FoodShare SC was already expanding across the state to increase local residents’ access to fresh produce before COVID-19 hit our state,” said Andrew Chandler, a program manager for community health transformation at SCORH. “When the pandemic began, FoodShare was flexible and agile, and able to respond quickly to food insecurity caused by COVID. They rallied communities across South Carolina to rise to the occasion.”
The 2020 Pioneer Award was given posthumously to Dr. Tan Platt. This award is presented to a provider who, during a lengthy career, has contributed significantly to the delivery of primary health care in a rural environment. Dr. Platt served as the chief contracting officer of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, and contributed as associate professor, vice chair, and clinic director within the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. He served as a medical director for the SC Department of Health and Human Services for many years, as well.
“Dr. Platt was a well-known physician within South Carolina who always looked out for rural,” said Michele Stanek, director of SCORH’s Center for Practice Transformation. “He was a mentor for generations of medical students, encouraging them to consider practicing in rural communities.”
The 2020 Award of Excellence was given posthumously to Patrick Bines. This award is presented to an individual whose efforts have made a notable contribution to health, health care, or a healthcare delivery system in rural South Carolina. Bines was director of Northeastern Rural Health Network and a coordinator with SCORH’s Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas program.
“When he saw a need within the rural communities he worked in, he went above and beyond to make sure that need was met,” said Andrea Mitchell, a program manager for community health transformation at SCORH. “If it was within his power to do, it was done. Even though his work was often localized to the counties that NRHN served, his impact was known all over the state.”
National Rural Health Day is an initiative of The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and is celebrated on the third Thursday each November. Across the country, State Offices of Rural Health celebrate the #PowerOfRural by showcasing their collaborations with rural healthcare providers and other stakeholders to address the healthcare challenges that rural citizens face.
About the South Carolina Office of Rural Health
The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) is a non-profit organization with a mission to close the gap in health status and life expectancy between rural and urban communities in the Palmetto State. SCORH has been promoting investment, opportunity and health within rural communities since 1991.
With 27 percent of our state’s residents living in rural areas, SCORH believes in preserving the unique character of rural communities without compromising their opportunities and access to critical services.