The Larimer County Board of Health awarded Ginny Riley, director of Larimer County's Department of Human Services, the 2011 Joseph Jabaily Public Health Hero Award. The award is given yearly in honor and remembrance of the many contributions to public health and the selfless spirit of Dr. Joseph Jabaily, a Loveland neurologist who died tragically in a charity bicycle race in the summer of 2004.
Riley was nominated for the award based on her collaborative spirit and strong support of public health services, especially those that improve family, maternal, and child health.
"Through her collaborative initiatives with our department, we've been able to have a direct impact on reducing child neglect and abuse, assure that children receiving welfare benefits are properly immunized, help low-income women prevent or delay pregnancy until their life circumstances improve, and enhance the birth outcomes of high-risk pregnant mothers," said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. "She repeatedly demonstrates an overriding focus on doing what's best for the clients, which is often achieved by partnering with other organizations."
Until recent budget cutbacks, Riley was able to allocate TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) funds to the Health Department to support nurse visitation to high-risk pregnant women; provide birth control methods to low income women who might not otherwise have access to those methods; ensure TANF children's immunizations were up-to-date so that families would not lose their benefits; and provide outreach and education on health issues, including reducing behavior risky to health.
"Those dollars helped to prevent unintended and out-of-wedlock pregnancies, thus reducing the burden and costs to social service programs," said Averil Strand, Director of Community Health Services.
"Ginny has been diligent in her effort to understand clients' needs and to address service gaps when her budget allows," she added. "She has helped removed barriers and improve access to services for thousands of people in Larimer County.
"She is a tireless advocate for children, and her support for our public health services will ultimately result in increased parental self-sufficiency and improved health and safety of children.
"Those are impressive Human Service AND Public Health outcomes."
Strand points out that the collaboration of Human Services with Public Health in the use of TANF funds has become a nationally recognized model spurred by the passage of the landmark welfare reform legislation -- the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Ginny helped to form a partnership with the Health Deparatment as she assessed how to meet the goals of TANF. Those goals are: