Kathy Ferrell, Mobile Health Unit Outreach Coordinator at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Middle Tennessee Visionary Award from the Tennessee Public Health Association (TPHA).
The award was created in 2011 as part of TPHA’s celebration of National Public Health Week. The award is presented to a recipient in each of Tennessee’s three grand divisions and recognizes unsung public health visionaries who make a difference in their community’s health. Each year the Visionary Award focuses on the theme of the American Public Health Association’s National Public Health Week; this year the theme is “Home is Where the Health Is.”
“We are appreciative of this award and very proud of Kathy’s day-in, day-out dedication to making sure the Mobile Health Unit Ministry connects with the people in our community who need it the most,” said Gordon B. Ferguson, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer. “Through the Mobile Health Unit, Kathy takes health care on the road to meet people where they are. This Ministry is a core strategic commitment within our annual Care of Persons Living in Poverty and Community Benefit Plan.”
For the past four years, Ferrell has planned, operationalized, developed and expanded the collaborative community partnerships that make up the daily route of the hospital’s Mobile Health Unit, Ministry in Motion. The Unit takes health care directly out to the homes, workplaces and community locations where people live, work, worship and gather throughout Rutherford County. The Unit has served more than 20,000 individuals since it began operation.
Four to five days every week, the Unit takes health care professionals on the road to see babies, children, young people and adults of all ages, performing pediatric well child visits, immunizations, sports and school physicals, vision screenings, and behavioral counseling and support for children and adults. Along with Ferrell, four emergency medical technicians operate the unit.
“We work hard to break down barriers between people and access to health care, including language, financial resources, transportation and information,” Ferrell said. The operation of the Unit is an active, living example of the Saint Thomas Health Mission, which is improving the health of individuals and communities with special attention to the poor and vulnerable.
“We are a faith-based health care institution, and we operate by the principles of human dignity and common good,” Ferrell said. The Mobile Health Unit partners with the Saint Louise Clinic, the Guidance Center, Primary Care & Hope Clinic and Saint Thomas Emergency Medical Services.
Ferrell has lived in Rutherford County since she was 15 years old; she is a graduate of Riverdale High School and Middle Tennessee State University. She and her husband Jason are the parents of three children, Anna Kate, Carly and Jake.