The MetroWest Health Foundation presented its Community Leadership Awards at its virtual annual meeting held March 25. Awards were given to the following:
Deborah Blumer Community Health Leadership Award -
Kathryn Condon Grace, of Natick, is a staff attorney with MetroWest Legal Services where she runs the Medical-Legal Partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Framingham. The joint venture enables Legal Services to embed an attorney on-site at the health center to act as a member of the treatment team for lowincome patients. She provides training on legal issues to medical staff, consultations with care providers and direct legal representation for clients in legal matters that impact their health. Ms. Grace developed the Medical-Legal Partnership from the start, creating what has become a highly successful program benefitting countless families in the region.
Jeanne Sherlock, of Natick, is the chief operating officer of the MetroWest YMCA where she manages the day-to-day operations of all the Y’s programming and community engagement. When COVID-19 disrupted normal operations at the Y, Jeanne and her staff quickly pivoted to provide needed community services. The Y immediately become an emergency childcare site providing a safe and enriching place for the children of front-line workers. Jeanne also saw that access to food was becoming an urgent community need so she joined community efforts to increase food access, leading to the Y becoming a major distribution site in Framingham for toiletries and food throughout the pandemic.
The Deborah Blumer Community Health Leadership Award is named for the late State Representative Deborah Blumer who served as the founding chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees.
Edna Smith Health Equity Award -
Paula Kaminow, of Ashland, is Vice President for Operations at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Framingham. Since 2004, Paula has brought a deep passion and commitment to serving those in the region whose needs are often overlooked. Her leadership at EMK has focused on ensuring that the patient is at the center of all their work. She has been committed to ensuring that those who walk through the doors not only receive the best care possible but are true partners in their care. She helped introduce “Teach Back,” which is a way for clinicians to ensure that patients understand their condition, treatment choices and follow-up instructions. She has created a culture at the health center where patients’ cultural and religious beliefs, as well as their concerns are heard and respected. She has also been a community leader in promoting health equity as the key to improving public health in the region.
The leadership and staff of the Framingham Health Department are recognized for their collective efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to address the racial and ethnic disparities that the pandemic has so vividly spotlighted. The department’s leadership recognized early on that low-income people of color were being disproportionally impacted by COVID 19. This recognition allowed them to mobilize a host of community resources to educate, test, trace, vaccinate and support those most affected by this pandemic. The Department stood up testing sites in low-income neighborhoods, mobilized a food hotline to help those struggling to find food, and
provided outreach to neighborhoods where housing density and financial circumstances threatened community spread of the virus.
The Edna Smith Health Equity Award is named for the foundation’s founding trustee Edna Smith who led the foundation’s focus on advancing health equity as a key strategy to truly impact community health.