The directors of all 19 public health departments across Nebraska were recognized May 8 with the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award during spring commencement exercises at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

The directors were honored for partnering with their communities to provide leadership and expertise amid the ongoing novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic.

According to a news release from UNMC, the directors were recognized for their work to overcome obstacles; identify key data to create robust pandemic information dashboards online; create partnerships to establish testing sites; review business and event plans for public health safety; distribute personal protective equipment; and more.

Since December 2020, the district health departments also have led the effort to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines throughout their respective jurisdictions.

Directors serving Tribland counties include Michele Bever of the South Heartland District Health Department, based in Hastings; Teresa Anderson of Central District Health Department, based in Grand Island; Jeremy Eschliman of the Two Rivers Public Health Department, based in Kearney; and Kim Showalter of the Public Health Solutions Health Department, based in Crete.

Other honorees included longtime UNMC faculty member Dr. Philip Smith and Dr. Gary Anthone, chief medical officer and director of public health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, both of whom received the J.G. Elliott Award.

Dr. William C. Mobley, a Nebraska native and alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received the Honorary Doctorate of Science Degree. Mobley is an internationally acclaimed expert in the field of degenerative disease of the central nervous system and an advocate for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and Down Syndrome.

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