Greeley County Health Services is pleased to recognize Chrysanne Grund as a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader. Chrysanne is a long time GCHS employee, working in both the clinics and hospital for the last eighteen years in Wallace and Greeley Counties. She was chosen from more than four hundred nominees to be one of ten leaders recognized this year. Community Health Leaders are recognized for their dedication and service relating to health concerns within their communities and regions.
Debbi Lehner, GCHS CEO says, “Greeley County Health Services is so fortunate to have someone like Chrysanne as our advocate and the “teller” of our story. Her passion for our ability to provide quality healthcare in the rural setting is only overshadowed by her respect for the individuals who provide it. Not a person on our entire healthcare team fails to recognize the value of her distinct contribution to not only our sustainability, but to our true success. We are truly grateful to her and proud of this wonderful, well-deserved recognition.”
Grund has worked in a number of capacities for Greeley County Health Services including office manager, billing and coding and most recently as Project Director. Grund’s programs have included chronic disease management systems, improved access to prescription and financial assistance resources and the construction of a new medical facility in Sharon Springs, Kansas. She is a founding member of the Greeley-Wallace County Healthcare Foundation and most recently developed a program and application for improved electronic health information networks in several counties in frontier, Western Kansas which was the only project of its kind selected for funding in Kansas this year. This three year project began in September 2011.
Chrysanne credits her fellow employees for inspiration. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some exceptional people who truly care about our patients and community. I watch them go above and beyond the call of duty every day whether it is making a house call, helping a patient navigate their care with specialists out of town or sitting with a sick or injured patient who is alone. This is a wonderful place to live and a pretty special place to work.”
Chrysanne’s impact extends beyond Greeley County Health Service with volunteer efforts in 4-H, community recreation programs and the Wallace County Public Square Community project. “It’s a real privilege to work with great people and to have the support of my family. Dr. Wendel Ellis and the GCHS medical staff have been tremendous mentors as we’ve worked to try and improve health options in the community. We’ve always felt it was important to try and bring quality service to our rural communities. If I’ve been a small part of that, I’m glad but we still have more work to do.”
Chrysanne Grund and nine other recipients were recognized November 9th in a ceremony in Baltimore, Maryland hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Salina Journal also ran a story about this award. Read it at Health Care Passion Rewarded.
Health Worker Champions Access to Health Care in
Western Kansas Farming Communities
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation® Honors Chrysanne Grund
With a 2011 Community Health Leaders Award
PRINCETON, N.J.—“‘Rural’ shouldn’t mean ‘without,’” said Chrysanne Grund, a health care systems manager whose work to expand access to health care has touched the lives of nearly all of the residents in Wallace and Greeley Counties, the least populated counties in Kansas. “In order to provide medical care in the farm belt, you need to do things a little differently,” said Grund, who explains that the nearest cardiologist is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. “Our providers have to be very ‘hands on’; they can’t just refer patients to specialists across town.”
As project director of the Greeley County Health Services, Grund wages a constant battle against the bureaucratic red tape that is often a stumbling block to providing care in a rural area. When Grund sought to bring a dentist to her clinics, she ran up against a state law requiring that the dentist own the office space he or she works in, and work in that space at least half of the time. “We had to make the legislators in Topeka understand what this legislation had done to a rural community like ours. We had no convenient access to dental care, and families were having to take their kids out of school for a half day just to go to the dentist,” said Grund, who helped to secure a “frontier exception” to the legislation.
To help ensure access to medical care for her community in the future, Grund started the Greeley-Wallace County Healthcare Foundation, which helps to raise funds for local cancer patients and created a scholarship fund for local residents who want to pursue a career in health care. In addition, Grund has mentored students—from high school to medical school, encouraging them to fulfill their potential. The Foundation also supports the construction of a new medical clinic in Wallace County, one of only a handful of counties in Kansas without a hospital. The new facility is the result of 10 years of effort for Grund and others. “We see it as our promise to our community that we plan to be here caring for our patients for a long time to come,” she said.
For consistently challenging the status quo and ensuring access to medical care in the Kansas farm belt, Grund has been named one of 10 recipients of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders Award. The award honors exceptional men and women who have overcome significant obstacles to tackle some of the most challenging health and health care problems facing their communities. Grund will receive the award during a ceremony in Baltimore, Md., on November 9.
Today, faced with a limited pool of dentists, Grund is still working to make oral health care more readily available for residents in Wallace and Greeley Counties. In addition, she continues to fight state regulations requiring that a health care provider be present in the clinics at all times. “We’re a small community. What should I do when someone walks in with a knee laceration, and our doctor is in the ER 30 miles away? Lock the door and not let them in? It’s ridiculous!”
Like many other residents of her community, Grund works evenings and weekends on the family farm in addition to working her job as project director of the Greeley County Health Services. “When people call me, they sometimes ask about the background noise; I take calls while I’m herding cattle or feeding animals,” said Grund, who grew up on the other side of the state and moved to western Kansas when she married after graduating from Kansas State University.
Grund continues to press hard to provide medical care in a region where town populations range from 65 to 800 people. “Our farms are growing larger, but the number of people needed to work them has grown smaller,” said Grund, pointing out the effects of the mechanization of agriculture. “People used to perform more work by hand, and there was a lot of physical labor in farming. Now they do everything from a tractor, but they still eat as if they were being more physical.”
As a result, Grund has been leading efforts to promote patient education and obesity prevention. “We are not immune from the nationwide trends of diabetes and other obesity-related conditions,” she said. “The costs involved can have a real impact on a rural community.”
Community Health Leaders National Program Director Janice Ford Griffin said that the selection committee honored Grund for her passion and steadfast efforts to ensure that the residents of her rural community have access to quality medical care. “Chrysanne Grund has a unique understanding of the connection between the health of individuals and families of Greeley County and the need to address big picture policy issues that are often developed with little or no regard for sparsely populated rural communities,” Griffin said. “Through her job and her integral role as a community activist, Chrysanne ensures personalized, accessible health care for all, regardless of ability to pay or distance to a major metropolitan area.”
A member of the Greeley County Health Services Board of Trustees, Jan Epps, said of Grund, “Many people have dreams of improving life in their communities; Chrysanne is one of those unique individuals who dream big and then work tirelessly to make those dreams into reality. Like many unsung heroes, she is much more comfortable working behind the scenes and supporting others than accepting accolades for herself.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has honored more than 190 Community Health Leaders since 1993. The work of the nine other 2011 recipients includes a project to help people with disabilities safely and confidently handle routine medical exams in Delaware; a transportation and support program for families with children battling cancer in San Diego; a campaign for early detection and treatment of breast cancer for uninsured and underserved women in Miami; a nurse training program for disadvantaged Hawaiian students; a home health aide service for elderly Asian Americans in suburban Philadelphia; a rural community health outreach program in the Delta region of Arkansas; an anti-hunger and nutrition program in New Brunswick, N.J.; health education for Mexican Americans in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and health care for the working poor in Altoona, Pa.
Nominations for the 2012 Community Health Leaders Award can be submitted until November 28, 2011. For details on how to submit a nomination, including eligibility requirements and selection criteria, visit www.communityhealthleaders.org.
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the Community Health Leaders Award to recognize individuals who overcome daunting obstacles to improve health and health care in their communities. Today, there are more than 190 outstanding Community Health Leaders from nearly all states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit www.communityhealthleaders.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For nearly 40 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.