WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) – Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization and North Country Health Compass Partners recently announced the recipients of the 2022 “Community Health Hero” award.

The award is given in honor of National Rural Health Day, recognizing North Country residents who have demonstrated outstanding public service and a commitment to improving the health and wellness of their community.

One recipient was chosen from each county in the tri-county area: Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis. The awardees were honored earlier this month and presented with a plaque at an award luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Watertown.

Award recipients include:

  • Anthony Coles, MSW, Jefferson County
    • Crisis Outreach Worker for Crisis Response of Jefferson County/Jefferson County Children’s Home;
  • Robert Mackenzie III, AEMT-P, Lewis County
    • Director of Fire & Emergency Management
  • James “Jay” Moore, RN, St. Lawrence County
    • Emergency Department Nurse Manager at Gouverneur Hospital.

“There are many unsung heroes living and working in the North Country, especially when we look at the health and wellness sector,” FDRHPO Executive Director Erika Flint said. “The goal of the Community Health Hero Award is to give these hard-working, selfless individuals some well-deserved recognition, and there is no doubt that we have found three true heroes this year. Our community should be very proud to have Anthony, Bob, and Jay among us.”

Anthony Coles, MSW

“As a Crisis Outreach Worker, Anthony goes above and beyond his job description for the greater good of our community. In his everyday job, Anthony responds to individual crisis calls made to our 24/7 hotline. He makes himself available and follows up with each individual, post crisis, to ensure their continued well-being and triage into continued services as needed. Anthony works closely with each client to help them address barriers and navigate their path to wellness. He volunteers his time offering transportation services, as requested, to ensure community members have access to needed services. On or off the clock, he assists individuals in their pursuit of housing, food, and other fundamental resources, and spends much of his remaining time volunteering at community events, leading coping skills workshops, participating in the Jefferson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, and the VA Suicide Coalition.”

“His compassion for others and generous efforts have made a substantial impact on many lives throughout the county. Wherever he is, at any moment, there always seems to be an individual whose life was made better through Anthony’s efforts. He never backs down from a challenge or misses an opportunity to help his community.”

From Anthony’s nomination by Diane Zikowitz, Manager of Community-Based Services, Children’s Home of Jefferson County

Bob Mackenzie III, AEMT-P

“After 20+ years in the trucking industry (13 as Safety and Maintenance Director), Bob Mackenzie changed careers to become a paramedic. He gained experience as a volunteer EMT through the fire service, and in 2012, became Lewis County’s EMS Coordinator and then in 2014 became Director of Fire and Emergency Management. Bob is seen at or involved in most every call that comes across the entire county … day or night. He is always available to help in any capacity within his many areas of expertise, including fire chief, fireman, paramedic, or teacher. His calm and resolute demeanor lead the way through many calls. Bob is a CPR instructor, Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Liaison Officer, Amish subject-matter expert, and provides those courses to other volunteer organizations on his own “free time” while continuing to train the fire service and local representatives. Simply put, he is a competent, knowledgeable, generous, kind, and patient individual who is an inspiration to his coworkers and fellow volunteers.”

From Bob’s nomination by Jessica Skiff, Human Resources Director at Lewis County Health System

James “Jay” Moore, RN

“James “Jay” Moore is the Emergency Department Nurse Manager at Gouverneur Hospital, overseeing a department that treats about 7,500 patients per year. Moore’s efforts contributed Jay is an outstanding individual who continues to be involved in community service, demonstrating a sustained commitment to the St. Lawrence County community. As the Emergency Department Nurse Manager at Gouverneur Hospital, Jay oversees a department that treats approximately 7,500 patients per year.  His efforts significantly contributed to Gouverneur Hospital’s #1 ranking in New York State, and #43 ranking in the US for social responsibility. Stakeholders and leaders across the St. Lawrence Health System continually benefit from Jay’s “system-ness.” He is a dynamic leader who shares best practices and encourages other leaders across county hospitals to strive for excellence.”

“As the Fire Chief of Morristown’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co., Jay is the Chief Executive Officer of the Fire Department, appointed by and responsible for the effective, efficient, and legal conduct of the fire department and its membership. As a Nurse Manager, Fire Chief, and Community Leader, Jay embodies the three core competencies that speak to the qualifications of this community award: quality, safety, and enhanced quality of life. He does so while consistently promoting a culture of diversity, respect, equity, and inclusion.”

From Jay’s nomination by Jeremy Slaga, former President, Gouverneur Hospital

“A hero embodies the virtues of courage, sacrifice, endurance, and integrity,” said Pat Fontana, FDRHPO Deputy Director and emcee the event.

“Heroes make ongoing sacrifices, putting the needs of others ahead of their own. Rural healthcare has some unique challenges, but because of heroes like this, our communities are able to rise above those challenges and help the people who live here to do the same. This year’s heroes selflessly dedicate their time, talent, and compassion to caring for the health and well-being of North Country residents.”