In recognition of the heroic efforts of the leaders in the public health community, the Campaign for Public Health Foundation (CPHF) held its fifth annual Unsung Heroes of Public Health Awards on Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C. While the awards highlight the efforts of just a few, it also brings to the forefront the efforts of the thousands of public health workers, many of whom operate behind the scenes, working to ensure our safety and that of our communities every day.
Michael Wahl, M.D., FACEP, FACMT, the medical director of the Illinois Poison Center in Chicago, Ill., is the recipient of the Rock in the Pond Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding work on a community-based or state-wide public health effort that produced significant positive health outcomes. Wahl has served as the director of the center since 1998, establishing the Poison Center Hotline, as well as similar hotlines for H1N1, MERS and Ebola.
Robert L. Burhans, former director of Health Emergency Preparedness at the New York State Department of Health, and Catherine C. Slemp, M.D., MPH, former state health officer and emergency preparedness director for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, are the winners of the foundation's Wavemaker Award. Burhans and Slemp were selected for their work on the development of the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI), which provides accurate and relevant information that can be used to increase health security preparedness.
CPHF has also awarded Donna A. Patterson, Ph.D., an honorable mention in the Excellence in Media Award category for her coverage of the Ebola outbreak in The Huffington Post. Patterson is an assistant professor in Africana Studies at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., and specializes in the history of African medicine, pharmaceuticals and drugs.
The awards ceremony also containted a special presentation to former Executive Director Karl Moeller, in recognition of his 10 years of service to the foundation.