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Erlanger-Elsmere Health Coordinator to Be Honored

The Northern Kentucky Health Department will honor Mary Burch, District Health Coordinator for the Erlanger-Elsmere School District, with the 2017 Award of Excellence in Public Health. Burch is being recognized for her leadership in implementing evidence-based school health programs in her district and advocating for school health throughout Kenton County and Kentucky, a news release said.

“Mary Burch has been a tireless advocate for children’s health for more than 17 years,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “Her efforts have addressed a wide array of health concerns, from physical activity to dental sealants to substance abuse prevention to chronic absenteeism.”

Burch oversaw the implementation of the Safe Routes to School program, which promotes walking and biking to/from school, in four of her district’s schools. To improve access to oral health care, Burch helped develop the Health Department’s dental sealant program, and brought school-based dental care to Tichenor Middle School and Howell Elementary School. She also helped launch the Erlanger-Elsmere School-based Health Center in partnership with HealthPoint Family Care.

Burch has been a leader in regional children’s health initiatives as well. She is co-chair of the Kenton County Alliance, Chair of the Northern Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, and serves on the Regional Interagency Council to address youth substance abuse. Burch is also a member of the Northern Kentucky Education Council’s team to address chronic absenteeism as well as the Kentucky Department for Education’s coordinated school health team. 

“Mary is always looking for effective strategies to impact children’s health,” said Saddler. “Because of this, students and staff have benefited from high quality programs, curricula and training. Mary has also been instrumental in bringing together the required resources to implement health services and programs as well as make changes in our environment and systems. ”

Burch will receive the award during the Erlanger-Elsmere Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, in the commons area at Lloyd High School (450 Bartlett Ave., Erlanger). Saddler and Hiram C. Polk, Jr., MD, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, will present the award.

The Award of Excellence in Public Health is given each spring to honor those people and organizations in Northern Kentucky who have shown progress toward achieving and maintaining a healthier community. Winners are nominated and selected by Health Department staff for work done in collaboration with the Health Department. The awards were first presented in 2000.

-Staff report

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