Delaware State Epidemiologist Tabatha Offutt-Powell, who also serves as chief of the Epidemiology, Health Data and Informatics section of DPH, was nominated and selected to appear in the 2019 edition of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health’s list of “Community Stars” in conjunction with National Rural Health Day in part for her work to spearhead the development of Delaware’s My Healthy Community data portal.

On the third Thursday of November, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health leads National Rural Health Day, shining a light on those who serve the vital health needs of the estimated 57 million people living in America’s rural communities. Each of the nation’s 50 State Offices of Rural Health belongs to NOSORH.

In Delaware, the SORH is the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health within the Division of Public Health.

SORHs provide support to rural hospitals, clinics, and first responders in several ways, including technical assistance, funding that supports workforce development, population health management and quality improvement initiatives. Beginning in 2015, NOSORH invited its SORH members to nominate Community Stars — hospital and emergency first responder teams, community health and volunteer service heroes on the front lines of rural health who were making a positive impact on rural lives. Annually, NOSORH publishes the names and stories of selected persons for each state in their online book of Community Stars. NOSORH announces the awardees on National Rural Health Day, which this year is Nov. 21.

My Healthy Community, launched in May, allows Delawareans to access information about the overall health of their communities. The data portal delivers neighborhood-focused population health, environmental and social determinant of health data to the public and allows users to navigate the information at the smallest geographic area available, and understand and explore data about the factors that influence health.

Throughout her tenure at DPH, Offutt-Powell has collaborated with the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health and the Delaware Rural Health Initiative to identify needs, compile data and to present it in a format that rural health care advocates could easily understand. DRHI includes representatives from DPH and the three southern hospital systems: Bayhealth, Beebe Healthcare and Nanticoke Health Services. The DRHI was created as a collaborative vehicle for addressing shared regional health concerns in a more coordinated manner and to develop an organized and strategic approach to improving the health of Sussex County residents.

“It's an honor to represent Delaware and receive this award on National Rural Health Day,” said Offutt-Powell. “As an epidemiologist, my passion is to work with data to understand factors that influence health and translate the data into information that can be used to affect change. I am excited to see the progress that we’ve made to share data with Delawareans that will help them create actionable change in their communities. I have an amazing team of dedicated public health professionals that helped make this accomplishment possible.”

“The Division of Public Health is thrilled to see Dr. Offutt-Powell’s hard work and accomplishments recognized on a national level,” said DPH Director Karyl Rattay. “We are so proud of the work she does every day to improve the lives of Delawareans. Not only does the My Healthy Community data portal contribute to rural health innovation, education, collaboration and communication, it also helps build capacity for rural data-driven program planning and decision making by rural health advocates.”

Powell’s story, along with those of all 50 state awardees, is available at powerofrural.org.

For more, visit bit.ly/35n2xdF.