Leanna Kermeen, public health nurse, Ottawa County Department of Public Health, received a 2019 Hometown Health Hero Award presented by the Michigan Public Health Week Partnership. This award recognizes people across the state working tirelessly to maintain and improve the health of their local communities. Kermeen received the award for her dedication to the migrant farm worker program in Ottawa County. When Kermeen clocks out of work, she does not go home or run errands, instead she visits migrant communities to provide sexual health services and education to break down barriers to STD testing and treatment.
“Your impactful work to improve the health of migrant workers outside of your normal working hours is exemplary and we wish you continued success,” stated James Koval, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in the award letter.
During the last two years, Kermeen has worked with public health agencies, private farm owners and growers and a multi-county migrant resource council to identify and treat communicable diseases within the camps; primarily in men 25 years of age and younger. Her work to slow or stop the spread of infections, such as chlamydia, has positively impacted migrant farm workers and the community. She also connects with local food pantries to seek donated food, ensuring the workers have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, clothing, toothbrushes and other necessities.
“Public health is vital to the health of our county, state and nation. An act of public health positively impacts a person but it has a ripple effect to the larger population,” exclaimed Kermeen. “It’s been my privilege, honor and passion to work in public health. Receiving a Hometown Health Hero Award is humbling and it gives validation for the work being done. This work matters, and it’s thrilling to drive public health forward with such a supportive network.”