Scott honored for lifetime contribution to rural health

HAZARD, Ky. (UK Public Affairs) — Ernie Scott, director of the Kentucky Office of Rural Health, has been presented with the 2020 Dan Martin Award for lifetime contribution to rural health in Kentucky.

The award, conferred annually since 2003 by the Kentucky Rural Health Association (KRHA), recognizes individuals who have played key roles in developing innovative solutions to rural health challenges in Kentucky — in the areas of patient care, health professions education, health administration, health promotion or public advocacy. It was renamed the Dan Martin Award after its first recipient, who had a more than the five-decade-long impact on health care and health education in Western Kentucky.

The Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH), established in 1991, is a federal-state partnership authorized by federal legislation. The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health, located in Hazard, serves as the federally-designated Kentucky Office of Rural Health.

“It is an absolute honor to receive this year’s Dan Martin Award,” Scott said. “For decades, Dr. Martin played such a key role in the state — as a medical professional, as an educator, as a leader. In so many ways, we are all walking in his shadow, continuing to do the work that’s necessary to help the communities and people of rural Kentucky.”

The award was announced on Nov. 5, during the opening day of KRHA’s annual conference, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a true Appalachian, I’m convinced Ernie has never met a stranger and this shows in the network of collaborators he has brought together to address various rural health issues,” said KRHA President Ashley Gibson. “He understands what’s at stake and is always willing to go the extra mile to meet the needs of our rural communities. Kentucky is lucky to have Ernie Scott and we at the Kentucky Rural Health Association are very proud to present him with the 2020 Dan Martin Award.”

Scott, a lifelong resident of rural Eastern Kentucky, first joined the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH) in 2012 as a rural project manager. He has served as director of the office since 2013.

As director, he has worked to strengthen state and national partnerships, expand the office’s presence throughout the state, grow its staff and initiate a range of new projects, including The Bridge, a quarterly magazine.

He has served as an ex-officio member on KRHA’s board of directors and as the chair of the group’s education committee.

At the national level, Scott serves as a regional representative to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health and serves on the organization’s rural health clinic committee, national conference committee and on two workgroups.

Prior to joining KORH, he worked as the director of planning and special projects for Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, a federally qualified health center based in Whitesburg.

He began his health care-based career as a radiologic technologist.

“On behalf of the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UKCERH) and all the team members, we congratulate Ernie on receiving the Dan Martin Award. It’s well deserved,” said Dr. Frances Feltner, director of UKCERH, which serves as the federally-designated Kentucky Office of Rural Health.

The mission of KORH is to support the health and well-being of Kentuckians by promoting access to rural health services. The program provides a framework for linking small rural communities with local, state and federal resources while working toward long-term solutions to rural health issues. KORH assists clinicians, administrators and consumers in finding ways to improve communications, finances and access to quality health care while ensuring that funding agencies and policymakers are made aware of the needs of rural communities.

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