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Mary Beth Herrmann advocates for the underserved; wins Heart of Healthcare Award via KU Nursing Scho
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Herrmann with her prestigious award, received in October in Kansas City, Mo. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Mary Beth Herrmann, RN, registered nurse, administrator and health officer for the Pawnee County Health Department in Larned, was one of 10 winners selected Friday, Oct. 22, at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center, Kansas City, Mo., from several hundred Nursing the Heart of Healthcare award nominees.

Putting a face on the underserved and less fortunate in the community has been part of Herrmann’s job for 22 years at the Pawnee County Health Department. But it’s more than that for her. "This organization works to promote and keep a ‘health care system’ in our small rural county," Herrmann said.

Herrmann has been doing public health nursing for a total of 33 years. She said she’s tried other types of nursing, but is always drawn back to public health. She is the administrator, staff supervisor, county health officer, HIPAA privacy officer, HIPAA security officer, public relations person, public information officer, human resource manager, facility infection control manager, identity theft prevention officer, purchasing officer, finance manager, grant writer, staff development trainer, OSHA compliance officer and the public health preparedness coordinator.

"One minute I am working on the yearly grants and the next minute I am giving flu shots, doing a pregnancy test or maybe weighing and measuring a one-week-old baby," Herrman said. But she said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

"I enjoy introducing and mentoring new staff to the world of public health," Herrmann said. "You have to really like this type of work and be able to see the broad-reaching impact that it makes on people’s lives down the road. It is very holistic in that you get to know the family unit through many different avenues of our programs," Herrmann added.

In nominating Herrman, one person wrote, "She is dedicated to finding a solution to the problems that the community faces. Pawnee County is lucky to have a nurse such as Mary Beth who not only sees future needs but also pays attention to the needs at hand, and is always striving to make our county one of the healthier communities in Kansas."

When the parent company of the local hospital decided to close it, Herrmann helped to ensure this did not happen. Working nonstop with others in the community for a solid year, their hospital is now owned by the county and in no danger of closing its doors, thanks in large part to Herrmann’s efforts.

Herrman doesn’t see herself doing anything else than what she’s doing right now. "Public health nursing is a little known profession and it has been and continues to be a wonderful special experience with each and every day being new and challenging," Herrmann said.

Established as a public service by the University of Kansas in 1989, Nursing the Heart of Healthcare celebrated 19 years of recognizing outstanding registered nurses. Nominations are accepted from their patients, colleagues, supervisors, families and friends. Over the years, there have been 190 winners from more than 6,900 nominations.

Nominations are accepted from patients, patients’ families, colleagues, employers, supervisors and the nurse’s family and friends. A committee, composed of former award winners and health care and business leaders, selected the 10 winners. Every nurse who was nominated received a certificate of recognition.