Southwest Area Health Education Center recognized with statewide awards

The Southwest Area Health Education Center (SwAHEC), located at Cameron University, in conjunction with the other Oklahoma Area Health Education Centers, was named the Rural Health Organization of the Year. The honor was presented by the Rural Health Association of Oklahoma (RHAO) during the organization’s annual conference last week. RHAO provides a united voice for Oklahomans in the promotion of rural health issues through advocacy, education and leadership. The area health education centers were recognized for their commitment to improving the health of medically underserved communities through recruitment, retention and enrichment of the healthcare workforce.

In addition, SwAHEC and the other AHEC offices will receive the Champion of Community Health Award on October 18 in Oklahoma City. The AHEC offices will be honored as Community Health Champion in recognition of OKAHEC’s Livestrong Cancer Survivorship Education Program, funded by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The program was designed to provide local access to cancer resources including workshops, targeted communications with rural health care providers and referral information for cancer patients, survivors and their families.

“It is gratifying that OKAHEC’s Livestrong program is garnering such recognition,” says Dr. Joe Langley, SwAHEC Director. “SwAHEC has offered programs throughout southwest Oklahoma in communities such as Lawton, Duncan, Ardmore, Altus, Clinton and Elk City. We have also distributed Livestrong reference materials to area physicians.”

The Champions of Health Awards are sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association. 

Serving 23 counties in southwest Oklahoma, SwAHEC works in collaboration with community-based partners to recruit students into healthcare professions, train and support healthcare professionals and advocate the elimination of health disparities. The program is also active in issues important to the service area including rural economy, health disparities, cancer survivorship, geriatric education, and genetics.

“Despite the elimination of state funding for the current fiscal year, SwAHEC and the other area health education centers continue to provide much needed services to Oklahomans,” says Dr. Langley. “Our programs have proven track records and are having a positive impact on the rural healthcare workforce. Recognition that we are receiving through these awards is verification that the Oklahoma Area Health Education Centers play a vital role in the healthcare of rural Oklahomans.”

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September 30, 2010

PR#10-176