The Ottawa County Health Department was recently honored as the recipient of the 2009 Michigan Department of Community Health Director’s Award to local public health. The Director’s Award is an annual award that singles out local health departments for outstanding programs that demonstrate innovation and excellence in public health. The Department was selected for its leadership in Emergency Preparedness, specifically the Spring 2009 H1N1 Flu Response.

Ottawa County had the second confirmed case of H1N1 in the state of Michigan, a cluster of 13 cases at Hope College and a case resulting in the closure of Lakewood Elementary School in the West Ottawa district. Ottawa County was on the front end of the outbreak in the state "We knew this event would determine whether the emergency response plans were effective, whether the partnerships were strong and intact, and whether the organization was prepared to perform at a high level of quality during the demands of this very real situation" commented Lisa Stefanovsky, Health Officer of the Ottawa County Health Department. “Much like our current H1N1 situation, intense planning and communication, the commitment to integrity, and the cooperation by the OCHD response team were keys to our effectiveness.” Stefanovsky, gives most of the credit for the award to an exemplary public health workforce and the collaborative efforts of community partnerships who share a common goal of protecting public health. "We very graciously accept this award on their behalf because without them, we could not have been successful".

"The Director's award is richly deserved by the Ottawa County Health Department. Dr. Heidel and his team are extremely competent and tremendous partners for community health," Dean of Students Richard Frost said. "With the H1N1 concern last April, they assisted Hope College every step of the way providing invaluable education, counsel, and assistance with planning as we addressed the tough questions. Our success was directly tied to the effective partnership with Ottawa County Health Department."

The Department received a plaque, the Michigan Department of Community Health Director’s Award traveling trophy, and $1000. This is the first time the Ottawa County Health Department has received the award since it began in 1983.