LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – At the first meeting of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department Board of Health in two years, two community members were named public health heroes.
The Board of Health annually awards the Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero Award to individuals who are dedicated to improving the health of the people of Lexington.
Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage of the Lexington Fire Department and Dr. Sharon Walsh of the University of Kentucky Drug and Alcohol Research Center received the award this year, for their efforts in vaccinations Covid-19 and in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
As director of the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, the Board of Health said Dr Walsh has created new avenues to expand treatment for opioid addiction and helped distribute more than 4,600 units of naloxone.
At the event Monday night, Walsh said there’s still a lot of work to be done to overcome the stigma of opioid addiction.
“That stigma can be a real barrier. Sometimes it can be hard to talk to your friends, your family, your loved ones, your employers. We need to keep working to break down those kinds of barriers,” she said . “There is always hope. As long as you are still alive, you can still go into remission and hopefully go on to a long-term recovery.”
Bramlage, the battalion chief of emergency medical services, helped first responders navigate the pandemic and helped fire and health service teams work together to increase vaccination efforts against Covid-19. He said he views these efforts as just part of his job.
“You take care of the people who live here and we have the flexibility to do that. We have creative people who can solve problems and this was one of those situations,” he said.
The award is named after Dr. Rice C. Leach, a former health commissioner who also served as a public health physician for more than 50 years.