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Rural Health Network Presents Rural Health Champion Awards

Community news | Monday, November 19, 2018

Contact: Marion Ciciarelli

The Rural Health Network (RHN) of Oswego County has presented two outstanding local healthcare providers with the agency’s Rural Health Champion Award for their dedication to improving services within the county.

Honored as champions at separate luncheons held at their place of work were Michael Nupuf, MD, of Farnham Family Services, and Ashley Lawton, MS, LMHC, of Integrated Counseling Services. This year’s awards were presented by Leanna Cleveland, Coordinator of Community Health for Oswego County Opportunities, as part of the RHN’s observation of National Rural Health Day, which is November 15th.

After practicing internal medicine and providing his community with other integral healthcare services for more than 30 years, Dr. Nupuf joined Farnham in August 2017 as the medical director of its opioid treatment program (OTP). Despite no previous experience working with those with substance use disorders, Dr. Nupuf embraced the challenge of caring for this complex patient population with multi-faceted needs. Since the program began last year, Dr. Nupuf along with his multidisciplinary team has expanded the program to more than100 patients. The OTP modality significantly reduces the risk of fatal overdose.

On being presented the award, Dr. Nupuf said he was “humbled,” adding that the honor was really an award to be shared with his fellow co-workers at Farnham as it is very much a team approach when treating those with substance-use challenges.

Lawton, who serves as the assistant director at Integrated Counseling Services said she was excited to be presented the award. “It’s definitely an honor,” she said. “I love working with children and adolescents. That’s my passion and why I came here to work, as our play therapy program at Integrated Counseling is a specialty.”

Lawton also volunteers her time at programs within the community, including Camp Rainbow of Hope, which assists children who have lost a loved one. She also finds time to volunteer for Oswego County Hospice program offering bereavement trainings to the hospice volunteers. “I also love my work with hospice and it’s nice to be recognized for that work as well.”

The RHN solicited nominees for its awards from the members of its 30 agencies. To be nominated, an individual has to live or work in the county and have demonstrated leadership in improving the availability and delivery of services in Oswego County. Eligible candidates include physicians, nurse-practitioners, physician assistants, or other professionals who develop, provide, or promote the advancement of quality service delivery in the county.

Honored as a Rural Health Champion by the Rural Health Network was Michael Nupuf, MD, who serves as the medical director of Farnham’s opioid treatment program. From left, Leanna Cleveland, Coordinator of Community Health for Oswego County Opportunities, Dr. Nupuf and Eric Bresee, Farnham Executive Director.