WARREN - A Warren nurse who made city history as the only African-American public health nurse in Trumbull County was presented the Shero of Health Award this week in Columbus.
On Thursday, Cheryl Strother, director of nursing at Warren City Health Department, was recognized for her community service in the health field by the Ohio Commission of Minority Health.
The Hero / Shero of Health Awards honor those who at the grassroots level give their time, talent and resources to improve services in the health care of minority citizens. The award also recognizes individuals who provide leadership in their neighborhood or ethnic community in health issues, who support those facing challenging health circumstances, and those who have made a unique and innovative contribution to reducing health disparities.
Cheryl Strother, director of nursing for the Warren Health Department, works at the offices. Strother was honored this week with the Hero / Shero of Health Award from the Ohio Commission of Minority Health. She has been with the department since 1998 and director since 2008.
''Having worked with people who were ill and then being exposed to a community health nursing course in college, I became aware of starting to look at the whole person,'' Strother said. ''There are many factors that impact a person, such as their environment, what they had the ability to buy, where they live, and what they ate, which all impacts their health.
''I liked community health and the idea of being able to help make the community a healthier place,'' said Strother, a nurse for 16 years with the Warren Health Department.
She said received a call from Felicia Alexander, director of the Youngstown Office of Minority Health, who told her that she had heard of some of the things she had been doing in the community and that she had been nominated for this award.
''I was surprised and happy when I heard the news about the award. It's always an honor to be nominated for an award,'' Strother said.
Strother first worked 12 years as a staff nurse at Warren General Hospital and also for the Trumbull-Mahoning Medical Group where she handled allergy shots.
She later worked as the education / service coordinator for Personal Care Insurance Co. in Cleveland and director of community outreach programs for Buckeye Health Center in Cleveland. She also was a clinical instructor for community health for the nursing students.
She holds an associate in applied science and a bachelor's degree in nursing, both from Youngstown State University and master's degree in community health from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She's listed as the only staff member at the Warren Health Department to hold a master's degree.
Strother has also co-authored a journal ''African American and Alzheimer's Disease'' during the time she was a student at Case Western Reserve.
Strother is the president of the Grace AME Church nursing guild, which offers numerous health programs and services to the community. She said she and the guild member believe that "disease prevention, health promotion and health education are vital to the health of a community."
''The people that I have met and just being able to help people is what I enjoy most about my job,'' she said. ''I get to do health-related activities at Grace AME Church, which is very rewarding spiritually.''
Warren resident Gussie Reed, who knows Strother through Grace AME, said Strother ''is a very community minded person.''
''She was able to a get a men's prostate screening program through Humility of Mary Health Partners held at our church which was open to the community,'' Reed said. ''Cheryl has always looked for program that help people in the community.''
Reed said she recalls once at church when she got sick and Strother assisted her by telling her she needed to go to Urgent Care to be checked.
''She is a very caring person. She does so much not just as a nurse but as a member of the community,'' she said.
Strother started as staff nurse at the Warren Health Department in 1998 and then in 2008 became the director of nursing, where she oversees the staff.
She said that the biggest change she has seen in the health department is becoming more computerized as more work is done online as opposed to paper.
Major challenges in the job are trying to provide more services to the community with less money and minimal staffing, addressing existing health disparities and the increases usage of health information technology is electronic health records.
''I plan to continue working here and when I do retire I would like to do more work with my church and out in the community, still basically doing a lot of what I am doing now. I would be able to demote more time,'' she said.
Last year, Strother received the Mahoning Valley Leadership in Health Award from Humility of Mary Health Partners.
''I was honored to get that award since I do work a lot with Humility of Mary Health Partners to offer community health programs,'' she said.