2020 Award Recipients

Dr. Gary Ogden Rural Health Practitioner of the Year Award:
>>  Dr. Andrew Williams

Andrew Fox Williams, MD was recognized with the Dr. Gary Ogden Rural Health Practitioner of the Year for his contributions to the North Country community during the COVID-19 pandemic. His dedication in time and knowledge to this pandemic response demonstrates his sincere commitment to the core values of public health and quality care that Dr. Ogden exemplified.

Dr. Williams worked day in and day out to ensure all stakeholders were included in key decisions, and to also ensure that there was a balanced approach to the pandemic. He has combed the literature to work with clinical teams and use evolving medical treatments for our COVID-19 patients. Dr. Williams also worked tirelessly to bring more COVID-19 tests to the county to help with our COVID19 response, get people back to work, and students back to school whenever safely possible.  

Throughout all of this, Dr. Williams continues to see patients in the Community Health Center of the North Country, providing excellent medical care to some of our most vulnerable patients in the community.  Dr. Andrew Williams is a primary care physician, the Medical Director of the Community Health Center of the North Country, President of the St. Lawrence County Board of Health, and Associate Medical Director for Canton-Potsdam Hospital within the St. Lawrence Health System.

Outstanding Rural Health Program Award:
     >> Rural Outreach Center

The Rural Outreach Center breaks the cycle of rural poverty in southwestern New York by accompanying people to self-sufficiency using a robust, comprehensive, two-generation model based on empowerment and accountability. This model recognizes the close intersection between poverty and health.

Under the leadership of Dr. Frank Cerny, the Rural Outreach Center offers wrap-around services in collaboration with over 80 partners, including hospitals and other health care providers. The Center uses a multimodal transportation service model to address accessibility. Immediate needs are assessed, and resources accessed – social services, utility forbearance, food pantries, and other assistance as needed.  Once stabilized, individuals are asked if they would like to participate in programs to move away from their current circumstances. This engagement is the core of the model and the programs offered are the foundation of the participant’s success.

There are over 40,000 people in poverty in the rural zip codes from which the Rural Outreach Center’s participants come. Rural poverty is called the invisible poverty because it is dispersed across a wide geographic area, exacerbating the socio-economic disadvantages and accompanying health disparities.

Senator McGee Rural Health Award:
     >>  Donna Kahm

Donna Kahm works to foster collaboration among community agencies to enhance the health and wellness of residents living in rural southwestern New York.  She works with a wide variety of community agencies to develop and administer programs that promote access to health care and continuing medical education and directs numerous initiatives that identify and overcome barriers to quality of care and quality of life.

In 2016 Kahm was responsible for initiating the Cribs for Kids program through her participation in the HFWCNY’s Health Leadership Fellows program to respond to unsafe sleep-related infant deaths.

Getting rural EMS providers the training they need to enhance their skills and level of care has always been difficult, but Kahm has strived for this to be a top priority. Her work led to the creation of a Regional Paramedic Program that uses distance learning technology to allow this advanced training in a rural community.

Donna has served as the President & CEO at Southern Tier Health Care System since 2007. In her role, she is responsible for administering and directing the rural health network, which encompasses Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties.

Senator McGee Rural Health Award:
     >>  Tina Cobb

Tina Cobb is acknowledged as a leader for her insight and know-how as well as for her devotion to improving rural health. Cobb is a tireless advocate, at every level, ensuring that rural issues are never forgotten. She is regarded as an expert not only in maternal/infant and adolescent health, but in the overarching issues impacting rural communities, such as access to insurance and health care, lack of transportation, and prevention services.

Cobb has been an active member of multiple local, regional and statewide coalitions, boards, and networks committed to addressing the social determinants of health through systematic and individual level change. A few of these include the New York State Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, New York State Perinatal Association, and the Association of Perinatal Networks. She has also assisted local hospitals and health departments with the Community Health Improvement Plans and Assessments.

Cobb has been the Executive Director of the North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council, Inc. (NCPPC) for over seven years, and has been with the organization for more than 20 years. The agency serves Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.

2019 Award Recipients

Dr. Gary Ogden Rural Health Practitioner of the Year Award:
     >>  Dr. Robert Dweck

The New York State Association for Rural Health is pleased to recognize Dr. Robert Dweck, a dedicated family practitioner for over 30 years.  He came to this rural area through the National Health Service Program to help pay off his student loan. He soon realized that this was not only a community where he could stay and raise a family, but most importantly, one that really needed him. Dr. Dweck opened his own practice in Millerton in 1987and, in 1990, joined two other practitioners to form the Foothills Family Health Center, which then became the Dutchess Medical Group. This practice was unique in the area, accepting Medicaid and offering a sliding fee schedule for patients who lacked insurance coverage. In 2001, he worked with Hudson River Health Care (HRHCare) to transition the practice into HRHCare’s network of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), where he serves as Site Medical Director.

For the past few years, he has participated in a rural health immersion program for medical students, giving them the opportunity to shadow rural health providers. These students gain a better understanding of the needs and issues that face those living in medically underserved rural communities.

Dr. Dweck was nominated by Jeffrey Palmer of Hudson River Health Care who wrote “Dr. Dweck is active in the Eastern Dutchess community where he participates in Somos la llave del futuro , supporting the Hispanic population in the area. More recently, he has been part of the Open Community Project that helps protect immigrant rights. He is also a supporter of the NorthEast Community Center in Millerton.  With strong convictions, a powerful sense of justice, a passion for health care for the underserved, and a good heart, Dr. Robert Dweck embodies all of the qualities that make him an ideal candidate for the Dr. Gary Ogden Rural Health Practitioner of the Year.”

Outstanding Rural Health Program Award:
     >> Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force

The New York State Association for Rural Health is pleased to recognize the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year.  The nomination, submitted by Julie Gutowski, included information about an emergency department screening process used at local hospitals that helps to identify people using opioids that then connects patients with Peer Advocate or Recovery Coach in addition to a referral for treatment.  The Task Force operates a tri-county crisis line.  Their combined efforts have resulted in a measurable decrease in drug overdose visits to local hospitals as well as opioid related deaths between 2017 and 2018.

The goal of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force is to address the growing opioid crisis in the tri-county area.  Through active collaboration and engagement, the Task Force envisions a community free from opioid related deaths and overdoses.  The GOW Opioid Task Force currently has over 350 members from across the tri-county region. Members represent various sectors of the community, including public health, mental health, human services, local government, substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies, law enforcement, EMS, faith-based groups, health systems and medical practitioners, education, businesses, concerned individuals, families, and individuals in recovery.  There are six active work groups that meet regularly to address the needs of the community.  For more information please visit:

Senator McGee Rural Health Award:
     >>  Dr. Richard Terry

The New York State Association for Rural Health is please to recognize Dr.  Richard Terry who currently serves as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM at Elmira) and Chief Academic Officer at Lake Erie Consortium for Osteopathic Medicine Training (LECOMT).   This award recognizes Dr. Terry’s long and distinguished commitment to medical education, highlighted by his recent tireless efforts to expand LECOM programs to fill a critical need for physicians for underserved rural populations in the Southern Tier of New York.  Dr. Terry previously served as the Designated Institutional Official at Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, which hosts nine ACGME accredited programs and supports 126 residents and fellows.  Previously, he served as the Assistant Dean of Regional Clinical Education at LECOM where he built numerous rural clinical rotation sites as well as graduate medical opportunities in primary care.

Dr. Terry was nominated by Thomas Santulli, President of Southern Tier Economic Growth and former County Executive for Chemung County.  “In addition to the increased access to health service providers for our populations that have high poverty levels with corresponding medical needs, the impact of this project will have far reaching positive economic consequences for our community as well” he wrote.    “Dr. Terry’s steadfast commitment to improving access to high quality health services in our community has and will continue to improve the quality of life of the residents of the Southern Tier for years to come.  It is because of Dr. Terry’s unparalleled efforts I strongly urge NYSARH to recognize his contributions by presenting him with the Senator McGee Award for Rural Health Service.”

2018 Award Recipients

Dr. Gary Ogden Rural Health Practitioner of the Year Award

Robert Delorme, MD – Primary Care, Hamilton Family Health Center, Hamilton, NY

Dr. Ogden would be proud of Dr. Delorme’s health leadership in Southern Madison and Northern Chenango Counties.

Dr. Delorme exemplifies the rural family physician in that he understands the multiple cascading challenges patients and providers face in receiving and delivering rural primary care. Whether it be medical or social issues, Dr. Delorme has taken a personal approach to medicine – being available at all times of the day or night to meet the needs of his patients.

Dr. Delorme believes that Community Memorial Hospital should continuously improve and evaluate. Thanks to his philosophy and hard work, Community Memorial Hospital has been able to open five Family Health Centers in rural communities and achieve PCMH NCQA Level 3 designation for all of them.

Senator Patricia M. McGee Award

​Karen Madden, Director of the Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health

Karen Madden embodies all of the characterics of the Senator Patricia M. McGee Award.  Ms. Madden has dedicated her career to advocating for rural health on a national level.

Ms. Madden has been the Director of the Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health since 2000. She was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services from 2012 to 2015 and a member of the Policy Board of the National Rural Health Association.

In addition to the many accomplishments of her career, this award recognizes Ms. Madden’s critical role in the development of National Rural Health Day–November 15–with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.

Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year
​Rural Academic Partnership under the leadership of Dr. Zsuzsa Meszaros

There is a severe shortage of psychiatrists serving rural communities. To remedy this, the Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University developed a novel rural academic partnership that creates a relationship between residents and a rural host for all four years of their residency.

Participating partner organizations currently include Samaritan Medical Center, United Health Services Binghamton General Hospital, Oswego Health and Mohawk Valley Health System.


Celebrate past recipients by visiting our Past Award Recipient page.