Healthy Learners program receives national awards

COLUMBIA — Healthy Learners, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System, received the 2006 Achievement Citation, the Catholic Health Association of the United States’ (CHA) highest program award for Catholic healthcare.

The award was presented at the 91st Annual Catholic Health Assembly in Orlando, Fla., June 4-8. Over 1,100 people attended the assembly, which is the largest gathering of leaders of Catholic health care organizations across the nation according to a Sisters of Charity press release.

The Achievement Citation has been presented annually since 1975 by CHA. The award honors bold and innovative initiatives from Catholic health care providers in service to their communities, according to the press release.

Jo Pauling-Jones, executive director of Healthy Learners, said the  citation is an indication of the quality of work Healthy Learners has accomplished over the past 14 years.

“It is a best practice model, which has the potential to be replicated throughout our state,” she said.

Healthy Learners, was honored for its commitment to helping children in the community by improving their “whole health,” according to the press release. The program currently serves uninsured and underinsured school age children in seven school districts across the state by providing access to needed health care, and assistance with transportation to receive the care.

Healthy Learners strives to improve the academic achievements of each child in the program by removing health barriers to learning, decreasing absenteeism and allowing students to focus on their education.

Sister Judith Ann Karam, Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals and Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System CEO and president said that they were honored and humbled by the recognition.

“The Achievement Citation Award proves how, when working together to further our mission, we can and do nurture the growth of healthy communities and make for better places to live,” she said.

Camille Nairn, chair of Healthy Learners’ state-wide advisory board said the award acknoweldge all of those who collaborate to make the program possible including providers, the school nurses, funders and the advisory board and development committee.

“Our ultimate goal is to serve all uninsured and underinsured children in South Carolina,” said Jones.

Healthy Learners, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of school children from economically disadvantaged families in an effort to improve their quality of life. Since its inception in 1992, more than 30,000 children have been involved with Healthy Learners, according to press materials.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) also awarded the AHA NOVA Award to the program at a July 15 ceremony during the association’s annual Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

“A good hospital knows the community it serves and then learns how to help make it better,” said AHA president Dick Davidson.  “The AHA NOVA Award demonstrates how hospitals can and do make communities healthier and better places to live. Uniting together and working with like-minded groups to bring about change in their communities is why we are honoring these hospitals today.”

Established in 1993, the AHA NOVA Award recognizes hospitals and health systems for their collaborative efforts toward improving community health.

The 2006 AHA NOVA Award winners were selected from more than 62 applications and recommended by the AHA NOVA Award advisory panel and committee on awards and approved by the AHA Board of Trustees. The award is co-sponsored by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.