Albanese saluted for health work
Fort Frances Coun. John Albanese was presented with the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) 2014 Distinguished Service Award on Friday morning in front of the board of health and staff of the Northwestern Health Unit office here.
“I had the pleasure, on behalf of the Northwestern Health Unit board, to nominate John, along with Bill Thompson,” noted board chair, Julie Roy.
Roy then handed over the precious token, which is awarded annually to an individual for their outstanding contributions to the field of public health in Ontario.
“Staff and management, you guys do a great job and that’s why I work hard to achieve this,” Albanese said.
“Without you guys, I wouldn’t be able to do that.
“So thank you very much to everybody.”
Albanese has been a member of the board of health for the Northwestern Health Unit for 25 years.
“In 1989, I suffered my first heart attack,” he said, recalling he was still in the hospital when the mayor at the time asked him if he’d wanted to sit on the Northwestern Health Unit board.
“I had no clue what I was getting into,” Albanese admitted. “But throughout the years, I started gaining experience and started to get to know the people that they work for at the Northwestern Health Unit.
“I started getting involved more and more in programs, and making sure the people that we represent get the best health that they could get,” he added.
At the awards ceremony in Toronto, it was noted that Albanese “has been a dedicated and committed governor of public health services and programs for a population spread over a geographic area encompassing one-fifth of Ontario’s land mass.”
Albanese served as chair of the board of health for 10-consecutive years beginning in 2000. Under his direction, the health unit increased its offices to the current 14 across 13 communities to shore up much-needed programs in under-serviced areas.
“Using his strong networking skills to forge solid and sustainable working relationships among municipalities, partner agencies, and the health unit, John has become recognized for his ability to facilitate respectful dialogue on difficult issues between local partners while tirelessly advocating for the enhancement of the health and well-being of northern Ontarians,” his nominators acknowledged.
“His experience and leadership in the municipal arena have benefitted many new board of health members, as they have learned and witnessed first-hand the courage that is sometimes required of public health leaders to take on controversial issues.”
They specifically cited 2003, when Albanese chaired the board amidst the health unit’s action to declare second-hand smoke a workplace hazard.
Subsequently, in 2013, he led colleagues as the Overdose Prevention Program rolled out.
“A genuinely warm people person, John is a great supporter of staff and management,” his nomination read.
“He is also a committed supporter of a strong provincial public health system and is known for promoting consensus among his public health peers.”
The award is given to recipients who have demonstrated exceptional qualities of leadership in their own milieu, achieved tangible results through long service or distinctive acts, and shown exemplary devotion to public health at local and provincial levels.
“It’s a great honour for me, personally,” Albanese declared Friday. “I didn’t dream to get it but the board and the people involved made this happen.
“I would like to thank them.
“We have a great staff in the Northwestern Health Unit,” he continued. “I, personally, hope the people in our catchment area . . . are happy with our delivery.
“We look forward to continue to do the hard work.”
Albanese has put an application in to the ministry to extend his stay on the health unit board, but doesn’t know yet if it’s been approved.
“They recognize my work, my dedication to public health, and we’ll see what happens,” he remarked.
Albanese also said he wasn’t aware of the nomination until he was invited to the banquet in Toronto.
“I’m really thankful that they [nominated me] and really happy that I was recognized,” he said.
“It’s a great honour.”