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Dutchess Board of Health Presents the 2022 Public Health Partnership Awards

Published: 4/8/2022

Poughkeepsie… The Dutchess County Board of Health (DCBOH) has announced the recipients of the 2022 Public Health Partnership Awards. Pharmacist Nasir Mahmood and registered nurse, Kathleen Bartles, of the Pine Plains Pandemic Initiative and Medical Reserve Corp of Dutchess County’s (MRC) Coordinator Joseph Ryan were this year’s recipients. The awards were given out Thursday evening during the Dutchess County Legislature’s committee meeting by DCBOH members David McNary and Marc Nelson. 

“We are thrilled to honor Nasir Mahmood and Kathleen Bartles of the Pine Plains Pandemic Initiative, and Joe Ryan of the Dutchess County MRC, with this year’s Public Health Partnership Award, due to their continued efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to assist in meeting the needs of our community,” said Lobsang T. Lhungay, MD, Board of Health President.  

The Pine Plains Pandemic Initiative was designed in early 2021 as a civic cooperative effort in response to the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine opportunities in the rural eastern and northern sections of Dutchess County.  As a result of their collaboration, 4,500 adults and children received their COVID-19 vaccinations close to home.  

In 2021, pharmacist Mr. Mahmood from Pine Plains Pharmacy, was able to link with policy makers at various levels to obtain vaccine and supervise vaccinations in a variety of local settings.  In cooperation with Mr. Mahmood, retired public health nurse, Kathleen Bartles, mobilized professional nursing colleagues and citizen volunteers to staff “pop-up” vaccination clinics and provide necessary public health education regarding immunizations.  These efforts were supported by Pine Plains Supervisor Darrah Cloud, who included the pop-up clinic information and volunteer opportunities in her weekly newsletter and social media to residents. 

The Pine Plains Pandemic Initiative began providing vaccinations to first responders from the region in their local firehouse.  As the demand grew, the initiative found more opportunities to increase vaccine availability and opportunity, and provided home visits for those who were unable to attend clinics.  Coupled with education, the initiative was able to replicate its program in a larger scale at Stissing Mountain High School increasing their outreach to staff, teachers, administrators, students and families.  The program was soon replicated by other school districts and towns. 

County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “It is great to see Nasir Mahmood and the Pine Plains Pandemic Initiative being recognized with this award. We appreciate Nasir always stepping up in times of need. His kind heart and hard work is an integral part of our community.” 

The Medical Reserve Corps of Dutchess County’s (MRC) was established in 2002 to provide a way to recruit, train and activate medical and public health professionals and other volunteers to respond to community health needs during disasters and other public health emergencies.  As MRC Coordinator, Mr. Ryan has spent several years providing education, training and practice drills in preparation of a public health emergency to many volunteers.  Through his leadership, dedication, passion and commitment to the residents of Dutchess County, the Dutchess County MRC has:

•    Staffed more than 150 large-scale COVID-19 vaccine clinics;
•    Donated more than 22,000 hours to vaccination efforts; and
•    Received a variety of emergency response trainings, such as Pet Safety & Health in an emergency, Stop the Bleed, Active Shooter and Incident Command System.  

Additionally, through Mr. Ryan’s leadership during the pandemic, the MRC’s volunteer members have:
•    Contributed more than 40,000 hours of training, contact tracing/case investigation
•    Organized community outreach, call center, and COVID-19 testing sites
•    Distributed food, COVID-19 test kits, Personal Protective Equipment, and educational materials.  

“Thanks to Joe’s commitment to our volunteers and our community, we have been able to weather through the largest and longest pandemic in our lifetime,” said Dana Smith, Emergency Response Coordinator for Dutchess County.  “Our response and success would not have been as significant if it were not for Joe Ryan.  Throughout the pandemic, he and the MRC volunteers continued to rise to each challenge, without hesitation.”

DBCH Commissioner Dr. Livia Santiago Rosado said, “The board selected three very worthy recipients for its Public Partnership Awards, who each have embraced the spirit of community and volunteerism wholeheartedly.  We are so grateful for their time and effort that went into helping our residents get through the past 26 months.” 

The Public Health Partnership Award provides recognition and appreciation for contributions to the health of the community, reflecting the spirit of creating healthy communities, and increasing public awareness of the role and contribution of County partners who demonstrate leadership, innovation, and community involvement.

For more information about the Public Health Partnership Award, contact the health department at (845) 486-3432.