FORT DRUM — The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) and the North Country Health Compass Partners (NCHCP) are asking residents of Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties to nominate an individual in their neighborhood who they consider to be a “Community Health Hero” for the 2019 Community Health Hero Award.

“This is really an opportunity for community members in each county to recognize unsung heroes giving their time and talent and working to improve health and wellness of their community,” FDRHPO Director of Population Health Pat Fontana said. “Those striving to improve health and wellness for neighbors and loved ones and the people who need it the most.”

Those who demonstrate outstanding public service and a commitment to improving the health and wellness of their community can be nominated for the award, with one individual from each county to be honored in the days surrounding Nov. 21, 2019 — National Rural Health Day.

According to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to celebrate the “Power of Rural,” bringing to light the unique health care challenges that rural citizens face and showcasing the efforts of rural health care providers, State Offices of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to address those challenges.

“This award is meant to recognize people that haven’t been recognized before for doing these things and give them their due,” Mr. Fontana said. “These are folks who would never ask for this recognition, but they really deserve it.”

All north country nominees must live, work, or volunteer in Jefferson, Lewis or St. Lawrence counties and strive to improve health and wellness, as well as demonstrate an exceptional level of compassion, effort and achievement, according to a press release from the FDRHPO.

“Community Health Heroes” can be any community member embodying these characteristics. Citizens are encouraged to nominate those who may not always receive recognition for the work they do.

“We encourage people to nominate and keep in mind nominees don’t have to be doctors or nurses, they can be young people doing things that help with health and wellness in their community, or anybody helping to raise awareness or improving health and wellness,” Mr. Fontana said. “Anybody is more than welcome to nominate.”

Each community member may only submit one nomination for consideration.

Volunteers from the NCHCP will select a recipient from each county for a total of three awards based on the following factors: relation to health and wellness, scope of impact, depth of impact, social influence, volunteerism, and uniqueness.

“Community Health Hero” awards have been given in the north country since 2017.

Last year’s ‘Community Health Heroes’ were Michelle Graham of Jefferson County, director of health & wellness at the Watertown Family YMCA, Kimberly A. Cavanagh of Lewis County, mental health peer advocate of the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living (NRCIL), and Dr. Pakkam Rajasekaran of St. Lawrence County, medical director and chief of psychiatry at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center.

Nomination forms can be found online at All nominations must be submitted by Sept. 30, 2019.

For more information, contact FDRHPO Director of Population Health Pat Fontana at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(1) comment


The nomination link listed in the article is incorrect. Nominations can be made at

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.