3 north country residents honored at ‘Health Hero’ luncheon

Individuals from Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties receive 2022 Community Health Hero Award, given by Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) and North Country Health Compass partners.

Watertown, NY – Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) and North Country Health Compass Partners are pleased to introduce the recipients of the 2022 “Community Health Hero” Award.

One Health Hero was chosen in each of Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties, and all three were honored Monday afternoon during an award luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn, Watertown/1000 Islands. The 2022 Community Health Heroes are:

  • Jefferson County – Anthony Coles, MSW, Crisis Outreach Worker, Crisis Response of Jefferson County/Jefferson County Children’s Home

  • Lewis County – Robert Mackenzie III, AEMT-P, Director of Fire & Emergency Management, Lewis County

  • St. Lawrence County – James “Jay” Moore, RNEmergency Department Nurse Manager, Gouverneur Hospital

“There are many unsung heroes living and working in the North Country, especially when we look at the health and wellness sector,” explained Erika Flint, FDRHPO Executive Director. “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.”

The Community Health Hero Award – given in honor of National Rural Health Day (November 17, 2022) – recognizes North Country residents who have demonstrated outstanding public service and a commitment to improving the health and wellness of their community. Nominations were accepted from the community-at- large, and winners were selected by members of the North Country Health Compass Partners.

At the luncheon, each Health Hero was presented with a plaque after being congratulated by their peers and keynote speaker Patricia Minter-Powell – a French teacher at Immaculate Heart Central (IHC), involved in its Community Service Program and Rotary Interact Club. She also serves on the Advisory Council of Girls Education Collaborative, which, together with partners like IHC, supports educational opportunities for young women in rural communities in East Africa.

“A hero embodies the virtues of courage, sacrifice, endurance, and integrity,” stated Pat Fontana, FDRHPO Deputy Director and emcee of Monday’s 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.”

Here is some background on each of the recipients:

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
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.) 

For more about National Rural Health Day, visit https://nosorh.org/calendar-events/nrhd/.