Awards recognize contributions to human services clients

Several Minnesota organizations and individuals were honored recently by Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. Jesson gave the Commissioners’ Circle of Excellence Awards to recognize outstanding contributions to human services program clients. Eleven individuals and organizations were recipients of the awards, which were presented during a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul.

The Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award winners stand out among the many individuals and organizations on the front lines throughout the state, providing critical human services programs and promoting healthy and productive communities.

“These award winners are outstanding examples of how, collectively, we foster healthy people, stable families and strong communities,” Jesson said. “By shining a light on their work, we honor all our partners in human services.” The 11 2011 DHS Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award recipients are:

• Courage Center, health care home for people with disabilities, Golden Valley. For the past two years, Courage Center has provided a health care home, coordinating the primary care needs of its clients with physical disabilities. The project was initially funded by a grant from DHS and has received high satisfaction ratings from participants.

• White Earth Home Health, home care and long-term care consultation, White Earth. Serving the White Earth Nation for more than 25 years, agency staff provide skilled nurse visits, home-delivered meals, nutrition education and long-term care consultation. Many of their clients have chronic health care needs, such as diabetes.

• Empira, falls prevention program, Eden Prairie. Using a DHS Performance-based Incentive Payment Program (PIPP) grant, Empira implemented a comprehensive program with falls prevention strategies and post-falls management interventions aimed at improving the health and safety of nursing facility residents and reducing costs.

• In Reach Social Worker Initiative, a partnership of South Country Health Alliance, Owatonna Hospital, South Central Human Relations Center, Steele, Waseca and Dodge counties. Based out of Owatonna Hospital, a social worker works closely with frequent emergency department users to provide better service and more appropriate community-based care at a lesser cost.

• Recovery Resource Center, integrated dual diagnosis chemical dependency treatment, Minneapolis. Center staff work closely with clients, many of whom are homeless, who have complex conditions, providing dual mental illness and chemical dependency treatment, relapse prevention and treatment for mothers with dependent children.

• Affiliated Community Medical Centers – Litchfield East Clinic, optimal diabetes care, Litchfield. Clinic staff have taken a team approach to providing care to the growing client population with diabetes. The Minnesota Community Measurement Health Care Disparities Report noted that the clinic’s rate for optimal diabetes care was higher than the average clinic rate for Minnesota Health Care Programs enrollees.

• Larene Randle, parent advocate, Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, St. Paul. Randle has served on various advisory boards to bring the voice of a parent who has been involved with the child protection system to the table. She also is involved in many parent outreach and education efforts.

• Patricia Nordahl, former executive director, Cooperation Station Inc., Grand Marais. Longtime child care provider Nordahl not only served as director of an innovative child care center but assisted with efforts to develop the Parent Aware child care rating system. She advised DHS on its federal Child Care Development Fund Plan and serves on the Governor’s Early Learning Council.

• West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Food Support outreach, Elbow Lake. By collaborating with the University of Minnesota’s Simply Good Eating Program and local food shelves, the agency provides Food Support application assistance, nutrition education and cooking classes for residents of Douglas, Grant, Traverse, Stevens and Pope counties. The agency has been a successful partner in efforts to raise awareness and increase participation in the federal Food Support program.

• Mary Regan, executive director, Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies, St. Paul. Regan has helped lead innovations and reform in children’s mental health and child welfare for more than a decade. She served as chair of the Child and Adolescent Intensive Services workgroup, helping to write a report to the Minnesota Legislature on service capacity and needs.

• Bao Vang, president and chief executive officer, Hmong American Partnership, St. Paul. Vang has been a contributor to the DHS Disparities Reduction Advisory Committee and has been an advocate for small, culturally based agencies. As the leader of a growing social services agency that serves the Hmong and other communities, she has been instrumental in its success.

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