LEWISBURG, W.Va. — Two West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) employees were recognized for their contributions to rural health in West Virginia.
Bridgett Morrison, D.O., received an award for Outstanding Rural Health Provider during the West Virginia Rural Health Association’s West Virginia Virtual Rural Health Conference.
Additionally, Sally Hurst, director of outreach programs for WVSOM’s Center for Rural and Community Health (CRCH), received the 2020 Excellence in Rural Health Award.
The Outstanding Rural Health Provider award recognizes a health care professional who has exhibited outstanding leadership in the improvement of health care services in rural areas of West Virginia. The Excellence in Rural Health Award is given to an individual in the state who has made significant contributions to the improvement of the health of rural West Virginians. It honors creative work of particular effectiveness in applying knowledge or innovative organizational work to the betterment of community health.
“I am tremendously honored and humbled by this award,” Morrison said. “I consider myself blessed and privileged to be able to do what I do when it comes to working with amazing providers and taking care of our people and communities.”
Morrison is the health officer of the Greenbrier and Monroe counties health departments and a 2007 WVSOM graduate. She has been instrumental in coordinating the local community’s health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hurst has worked to improve health equity across communities and helped develop programs during the pandemic to aid those in need. For example, WVSOM joined the Feeding Seniors/Saving Businesses program, a local effort to connect isolated seniors with meals provided by area restaurants at the start of pandemic shutdowns.
“WVSOM’s investment in community engagement and outreach is making a difference across West Virginia, and it has been a privilege to be involved with this work,” Hurst said. “I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the Greenbrier County Health Alliance partner organizations, grassroots leaders and funders who contributed to making positive change happen within communities.”
The Greenbrier County Health Alliance is a nonprofit partner of WVSOM’s CRCH, staffed and supported by the CRCH with nonprofit oversight from a community board of local leaders. The alliance works to strengthen systems, policy and environments to advance health equity through grants management, partnerships and collaborations.
WVSOM President James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., said the efforts of WVSOM employees like Morrison and Hurst are examples of how faculty and staff live WVSOM’s mission of serving West Virginians first and foremost.
“It is a great honor to again have two people from WVSOM recognized with awards at the West Virginia Rural Health Conference. Dr. Morrison and Sally are wonderful examples of the type of employees we have at the school — people who are passionate about rural health care and are driven to improve the needs of residents in rural communities,” he said. “This year, especially, since we are still in the midst of a pandemic, has proven that WVSOM employees pour their heart and souls into their work and communities in order to create a positive impact.”