Deschutes Co. Public Health Board names 2017 'Health Heroes'

BEND, Ore. - In conjunction with National Public Health Week in April and Mental Health Month in May, the Deschutes County Public Health Advisory Board is pleased to announce its 2017 Health Hero award recipients.

The awards, which are presented annually, honor an individual and a group that demonstrate excellence in promoting and protecting behavioral and public health.

“What an honor to recognize the great work of citizens who are passionate about making our communities healthy and livable,” said Kate Wells, the Deschutes County Public Health Advisory Board Chair.

This year, there were two individual award winners. Kimberly Swanson is a psychologist and behavioral health consultant at St. Charles Family Care-Redmond and is also the chair of the region’s Pain Standards Task Force (PSTF).  With Dr. Swanson’s guidance, the PSTF has implemented numerous activities to improve the health of Central Oregonians.  Some of her accomplishments include coordinating a Summit to Reduce Rx Abuse and six Grand Rounds events on safer and responsible opioid prescribing, helping to secure funding for two new prescription drug disposal sites in Redmond and La Pine and developing a listing of disposal unit locations. Without Dr. Swanson’s direction and focus, prescribers and the general public would not have the tools now available to them that support safer prescribing and disposal of prescription drugs.

The second individual award winner is Rebeckah Berry, who serves as Operations & Projects Manager for the Central Oregon Health Council.  Ms. Berry, who was nominated by the Central Oregon Health Council, started the Pain Standards Task Force (PSTF) in Central Oregon.  Rebeckah’s support of the PSTF’s efforts has raised awareness of alternative methods to treating pain. In her nomination, the Central Oregon Health Council said, “Rebeckah’s collaborative spirit and tenacity has been extremely instrumental in taking this group from a vision to a working, actionable task force.”

This year’s group award winner is BestCare Treatment Services, represented by Chief Executive Officer Rick Treleaven. BestCare has moved beyond abstinence-only treatment services for substance use disorders and works collaboratively with local partners to provide wrap-around services for patients with opioid use disorders. They are currently piloting a program with St. Charles Women’s Center in Redmond that supports pregnant women who have an opioid use disorder. This pilot program is the first of its kind locally. BestCare’s nominator said, “BestCare is almost always the first substance use disorders organization to volunteer and agree to pilot new and innovative ideas to help the region learn and grow.”

The 2017 Health Hero award winners were recognized at the Deschutes County Public Health Advisory Board meeting on March 22

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