MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Health Department’s annual Partners in Public Health Breakfast honors community members and organizations that contribute to the community goals of the health department. This year’s breakfast was held Wednesday, and honored four individuals and one agency for the role they play in helping the health department promote public health in Knox County.
The honorees were Denise Campbell, R.N., of the East Knox Local School system; Janet Stutzman, R.N., and Pat Metcalf of the Mount Vernon City Schools; Larry Fogle, code enforcement officer for the city of Mount Vernon; and New Directions, a domestic abuse shelter.
Campbell was honored for her work as school nurse for the East Knox School District.
“Anybody who knows or who has met Denise, they know she is one of those people who has endless energy and enthusiasm,” said Jackie Fletcher, R.N., supervisor of the medical clinic for the health department. “I worked with Denise very closely on several vaccination programs. About six weeks ago we discovered we had some vaccine that was about to expire.”
Rather than throw out the vaccines, Fletcher called Campbell and asked if she could set something up so the vaccines could be put to good use.
“Within two days she had everything set up,” Fletcher said.
“Janet has been the school nurse for the Mount Vernon School District for the last seven years,” Fletcher continued. “When I contacted Janet about the award I asked her if she had any words of wisdom about her job. This is what she told me, ‘Every year brings new challenges and, therefore different priorities and goals. The one goal that remains the same is a commitment to help students achieve and nurture their optimal health in order to learn and grow in school and life.’”
Fletcher said it was important to honor Campbell and Stutzman because of the need for a good working relationship between them, the health department and the schools. She said when informing the public about health issues, it is imperative the information coming from everyone be the same. Fletcher referenced the MERSA scare several years ago.
“When concerned parents called to get information either from us or the schools, they got exactly the same information,” she said. “So there was no confusion about how the situation was being handled.”
Fletcher thanked Stutzman and Campbell for making themselves available to the health department and for their dedication to their profession and their students. Neither Stutzman nor Campbell was able to attend the breakfast.
Larry Fogle is the code enforcement officer for the city of Mount Vernon. It is his job to go around the city looking for violations of city health and building codes.
“We chose to honor Larry Fogle, who came all the way from Gay Street this morning,” said Brian Benick, director of environmental services for the health department. “As I have gotten to know Larry over the past few years, I have really admired him and how he does his job. He works hard, he is very effective and is very patient. He does his job very well and is very fair. And I try to learn from that.”
Pat Metcalf goes above and beyond the call of duty in her dedication to her job. She once started a club for girls only. The girls would gather during lunch time, listen to speakers and go places like the Knox County Career Center. Metcalf would also teach them simple grooming tips, and put together a little grooming kit.
She also arranges pro bono work for children and families needing vision and dental work. If a child needs new glasses, or needs glasses repaired, she will arrange for the work to be done. She acts as a mentor to parents who need medical work done, helping make doctor appointments and handling other details. Off for a recent snow day, she took the time to go to a family’s home where head lice was a persistent problem, and not only scrubbed everyone’s head, but helped the family clean the house. It is this kind of dedication that earned Metcalf the department’s award.
New Directions, a domestic abuse shelter, was honored for its work in the community.
“In my mind, I wanted to recognize this agency this morning because I think they do great work in the community,” said Dennis Murray, health commissioner. “They do work with us on a regular basis and are very involved at the health department.
“It was formed in 1983. Executive Director Mary Hendrickson and Board President Dotti Riggs are here today to accept the award.”
Murray praised New Directions for the help it gives to victims — women and children — of domestic abuse, violence and sexual assault. New Directions provides a crisis hotline, shelter for those who need it and advocacy for those who are unable to assume control over their lives. Staff members also work toward primary prevention of these issues.
“We do need to partner with folks like the domestic shelter,” Murray added. “Mary has great volunteers and a great staff. They have a great facility and has some great programming going on, like Take Back the Night and The Clothesline Project. It is my pleasure to make this award to New Directions.”