News release: MDH and partners honor rural health workers

News Release
June 23, 2017

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MDH and partners honor rural health workers

At the Minnesota Rural Health Conference in Duluth this week, some of Minnesota’s most talented public health workers received well-deserved recognition for their service to the state’s rural communities and residents.

The Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Rural Health Association and Duluth-based National Rural Health Resource Center presented the 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Awards honoring outstanding service to rural Minnesota communities.

  • Jode Freyholtz-London, founder and executive director of Wellness in the Woods, received the Rural Health Hero award.
  • The North Shore Health Care Foundation's Oral Health Task Force received the Rural Health Team award.
  • Dr. George Rounds, retired physician from Bigfork Valley, received the Rural Health Lifetime Achievement award.

It takes local innovation to create sustainable solutions, and today's health care workforce is creating visionary collaborations for the future. “The honorees embody the spirit of service and innovation that helped Minnesota build a robust, nationally respected rural health system,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “They exemplify the many ways people work to promote health and strengthen rural communities.”

The Minnesota Rural Health Conference presents these awards each year. The Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, the Minnesota Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Resource Center host the conference. This year’s conference focused on "Shaping Sustainable Solutions." More information is available online at Minnesota Rural Health Conference.

Rural Health Hero Award

Jode Freyholtz-London, founder and executive director of Wellness in the Woods, received the 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Hero award. She is a tireless advocate for consumer-level mental health awareness, advocacy and education. Wellness in the Woods partners with individuals and communities in rural Minnesota to identify and develop the support needed for wellness. It is recognized by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as the principal consumer-run mental health awareness, advocacy and training organization in Minnesota.

Rural Health Team Award

The North Shore Health Care Foundation's Oral Health Task Force received the 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Team award. The task force works to bring critical preventive and restorative dental care to all infants, children and young adults in Cook County and the Grand Portage Reservation, regardless of their caregivers' ability to pay. They have shown tremendous leadership in overcoming significant barriers to oral health care such as poverty, maltreatment, transportation and misconceptions about what comprises good oral health. To achieve sustainability, the task force has begun integrating preventive oral health into the work of other medical and social service providers in the county.

Rural Health Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. George Rounds received the 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Lifetime Achievement award for his 37 years of work as a family physician in Bigfork, Minnesota. His commitment to providing access to quality health care has led to a thriving medical campus serving a large swath of rural Minnesota whose residents would otherwise have to travel many miles for medical care. His leadership included recruiting doctors to the area and serving as chief of staff at Bigfork Valley Hospital. He was a preceptor for medical students, carrying the title of associate professor at the University of Minnesota, and was also a preceptor at the Duluth Family Practice Residency.

-MDH-


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications Office
651-201-5806
scott.smith@state.mn.us