2012 Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work
Gretchen Sampson, RN, MPH, health officer and director of the Polk County Health Department in Wisconsin, received the APHA’s 2012 Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work.
The annual award recognizes a health professional who has demonstrated exceptionally creative and innovative local public health work that protects, advances or recovers the health of the general population or special populations.
Sampson provided the leadership to develop and implement a regional public health preparedness consortium that became a nationally recognized model. The work of the consortium has benefited more than 20 local health departments and tribes in the western region of Wisconsin and has helped health departments across the state with the development of training, technical assistance and communications tools for public health emergencies.
Recognizing the need to develop competence in the public health nursing workforce in Wisconsin, Sampson helped bring together partners from academia and practice at the state, local and tribal levels to develop the state public health nursing conference, which for 15 years has been hosted annually in the center of the state at low cost to participants. She has led the charge to bring technological advancement to the rural health department in Polk County by adopting an electronic documentation system and leading the development and utilization of the OMAHA system for public health nursing documentation. She also has incorporated tele-medicine in her home health program, a user-friendly health department website and is developing a dashboard for use in tracking performance management and quality improvement.
Under her leadership, the Polk County Health Department and Board of Health are moving forward with Public Health Accreditation Board national accreditation and are seen as leaders in Wisconsin in strategic planning, community health assessment, community health planning, performance management and quality improvement. Sampson competed for and received a grant to develop a website in Wisconsin that encourages local health departments to share accreditation documents and resources to move all agencies forward to meet public health standards.
Among her many awards and honors, Sampson received the Wisconsin Public Health Association Presidential Citation, Nursing Section Distinguished Served to Public Health Nursing Award and Outstanding Member of the Year Award. She is a governor-appointed member of the Public Health Council and serves on the board of directors of the Institute for Wisconsin’s Health.
Sampson co-authored a 2011 APHA policy statement on “Public Health Accreditation as a Means to Strengthen Governmental Public Health Systems in the U.S.” and regularly speaks to state lawmakers on the need to strengthen public health.