OCO News

Rural Health Network honors two health professionals with Champion Awards

In celebration of National Rural Health Day, the Rural Health Network (RHN) of Oswego County recognized two community members for their exceptional leadership and their work as advocates for Oswego County health providers and residents.

Oswego Health’s Emergency Department Director Jen Fassano, RN and Tina Bourgeois, senior LPN at the Oswego County Health Department, were honored with the Rural Health Network’s Rural Health Champion Award for their dedication to improving services within the county. The awards were presented by Oswego County Opportunities Community Health Program Manager Virginia Bough and OCO Health & Nutrition Services Director of Operations Leanna Cleveland at separate presentations honoring the award winners.

Jen Fassano

Fassano, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Oswego, followed her drive for emergency services as she started her career in healthcare as an EMT for Oswego County Ambulance. In 2014 Fassano transitioned from ambulance to the Oswego Health Emergency Department as she joined the team as an ED Tech while pursuing her AAS in Nursing at Cayuga Community College. Following graduation, Fassano served as a graduate nurse in the Emergency Department until she became fully licensed as a Registered Nurse in 2016.

In May 2021 Fassano was promoted to Senior RN and then quickly advanced to Director of the Emergency Department in December 2021.

Director of Nursing at Oswego Health Melissa Purtell, RN, BSN, BSM shares, “Jen is someone who has immense pride in her work, her colleagues and our patients, and her leadership in our Emergency Department is outstanding. Having first-hand experience as an E

MS provider, Jen has a community focus and builds on the relationships she has with her colleagues here in the community. We are so proud of her accomplishments and look forward to Jen’s very bright future here at Oswego Health.”

Throughout the pandemic the relationships that Fassano forged were pivotal as she played an instrumental role in ensuring our community had access to emergency care.

Fassano coordinates and facilitates an emergency services committee between providers and local EMS agencies to identify communication breakdowns to improve access to care. In addition, she most recently stepped up and received training on crisis intervention and plans to bring these resources to local emergency responders and her staff at Oswego Health.

“Jen is a great example of how nurses are encouraged to grow within our system, and work with our community partners to provide great local healthcare,” stated Kathryn Pagliaroli, MS, BSN, RN, SVP of Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Officer. Presenting the award to Fassano (above left) is OCO Community Health Program Manager Virginia Bough.

The Rural Health Champion Award is part of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County’s observation of National Rural Health Day, which is November 17th.

Established by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, National Rural Health Day recognizes that rural communities are wonderful places to live and work and have unique healthcare needs. National Rural Health Day celebrates the “Power of Rural”, bringing to light the unique healthcare challenges that rural citizens face and showcasing the efforts of rural healthcare providers, State Offices of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to address those challenges. It’s also an opportunity to honor the selfless, community-minded, “can do” spirit that prevails in rural America.

Tina Bourgeois

“It would be a challenge to find someone in the county that has not had a child, friend, family member or themselves vaccinated by Tina,” said Cleveland. “Tina loves working with the residents, as well as other health professionals in and around Oswego County. Whether it’s in vaccination clinics, investigating communicable diseases, working in STD or HIV clinics, or visiting patients at home; Tina’s plain-spoken high-energy delivery of services and interacting with colleagues provides a breath of fresh air.”

Bourgeois’ welcoming personality and trademark great hair have become synonymous with the Oswego County Health Department.

“Tina has been a staple to the Oswego County Health Department for over 30 years, during this time she has positively impacted thousands of residents,” said OCHD Director of Preventive Health Services Jodi Martin, MSN-PHN, RN. “The past few years have been a very trying time for public health, so to have one of our own frontline staff members recognized for her hard work and dedication to this community is truly an honor.”

Never one to take herself too seriously, she does not realize the level of impact she has made on Oswego. “Tina has achieved rock star status among her public health peers and community members she has interacted with,” added Cleveland. “Tina’s knowledge, personality, patience, and passion for public health is commendable and she works tirelessly to improve the health of and make the lives of Oswego County residents better. She is a true Rural Health Champion and deserving of the recognition and reputation she has earned over her career at the Health Department.”

“We are proud to be able to salute Tina and Jen for the amazing work they do,” added Cleveland. “They truly make a difference and are worthy recipients of the Rural Health Champion Award.” Bourgeois (at left in photo) receives her award from Cleveland.

Operating under the auspices of Oswego County Opportunities, the Rural Health Network is a consortium of health care providers and human service providers in Oswego County.  Working together the members take a collaborative approach to addressing major health issues that exist in Oswego County.  For more information on the Rural Health Network of Oswego visit the Rural Health Network (RHN) pages on the OCO website, www.oco.org.

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