Inaugural Community Health Improvement Awards Announced

March 23, 2010

Mardy Sandler, L.M.S.W., David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D., Peter Szilagyi, M.D., M.P.H.,

The recipients of the Dr. David Satcher Community Health Improvement Awards were announced last night during a ceremony at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The inaugural awards recognized URMC faculty, staff, and community partners for efforts to improve care for underserved children, reduce lead poisoning, and provide outreach to at-risk mothers and children.

The awards were created by the URMC Center for Community Health to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to community health in the greater Rochester region through research, education, clinical services, and/or outreach efforts.  

“This year’s awardees are powerful role models and their programs are examples of what can be achieved through academic - community partnerships,” said Nancy M. Bennett, M.D., director of the Center for Community Health. “The work of these individuals and the programs they have helped create rest upon deep-rooted relationships in the community. These efforts not only serve as a foundation for new endeavors but are also national models for improving public health.”

The awards are named in honor of David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., who served as the 16th Surgeon General under President Bill Clinton. Satcher, who participated in last night’s award ceremony, received medical training at URMC in the 1970s and has served for many years as an advisor to the University of Rochester on public health issues. 

Currently, he is the director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and Center of Excellence on Health Disparities, and Poussaint-Satcher-Cosby Chair in Mental Health at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. “I am deeply honored to have these awards named after me,” Satcher said.

During the ceremony, an honorary award was given to New York State Senator Jim Alesi for his advocacy and support for outreach and health education programs aimed at underserved populations. Senator Alesi has sought and secured funding for the Center for Community Health’s Healthy Living and Vida en Salud programs, a physical activity and health promotion program in the African American and Latino communities, and the Healthy Living Library, a unique educational community resource dedicated to health and wellness. 

“Senator Jim Alesi has been a champion for those at greatest risk for poor health,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of URMC. “Thanks to his foresight and steadfast support for the Center for Community Health these programs are making a difference and improving the health of the most vulnerable in our community.” 

“I am honored to receive this award as it has been my privilege to advocate and secure funding for many community health initiatives,” said Senator Alesi. “I strongly support the mission of the URMC Center for Community Health and their efforts in education and prevention. This organization recognizes the importance of and focuses on reaching the underserved population in our community to combat diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Hopefully, we can teach younger people to establish healthy lifestyles, thereby improving the quality of life for future generations.”

The 2010 Dr. David Satcher Community Health Improvement Awards were awarded to the following recipients:

  • Peter Szilagyi, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chief of the Division of General Pediatrics, was recognized for his 23 years as a leader both locally and nationally in improving healthcare for underserved children. One of Szilagyi’s many accomplishments was the successful community-based program to reduce disparities in immunization rates. As a result of these efforts, children in the inner city of Rochester now have immunization rates comparable to suburban Rochester. This work entailed close collaboration and partnership with many community organizations including the Monroe Plan for Medical Care, Monroe County Department of Public Health, and Pediatric Links with the Community.
  • Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D., assistant professor and deputy director of the Community Outreach and Education Core of the Department of Environmental Medicine, has spent the last decade focused on reducing lead exposure for children in Monroe County. In 2000, the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning (CPLP) was created in response to high rates of lead poisoning and its impact on children’s behavior and school performance. Working with the coalition, Korfmacher helped devise and implement outreach, education, and advocacy activities that focused on reducing lead exposure. These efforts culminated in a historic lead abatement ordinance passed by the City of Rochester in 2005. Through the actions of the CPLP, the number of children in Monroe County with elevated blood lead levels was reduced from 1,293 children in 2002 to 363 children in 2008.
  • Mardy Sandler, L.M.S.W., chief social worker and clinical manager for Community Outreach at Strong Memorial Hospital, has worked for thirty-four years, primarily in Women’s Health and Pediatrics, to improve the well being of the community’s families, women and children. In 1979, Sandler developed a comprehensive, multiservice home visitation program called the Parent and Child Training Program (PACT) to address the physical and psychosocial health needs of families at risk. She also developed Baby Love, a home visit program created in 1988 that has reduced infant mortality, premature births, low birth weight rates, and neonatal intensive care unit admission rates. The Baby Love program emerged from a community-wide effort to respond to the health challenges facing inner-city families and the program is an integral part of two community-wide initiatives – the Rochester Early Enhancement Program and Rochester Healthy Start. 

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