DHHS Shoutouts: Secretary Cohen Honored for Work on Medicaid Transformation; Report Highlights DHHS Work on Non-Medical Drivers of Health; Partners Honored for Health Work

Jan. 22, 2019 – NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen was recently recognized as Digital Health's Biggest DC Champion "for her work to pass the nation's first Medicaid waiver, which incorporates social determinants of health, and for transitioning North Carolina's Medicaid program to a managed care model, which has resulted in a number of startups entering the state."

The award was part of the Top 50 in Digital Health 2019 recognition sponsored by Rock Health, a digital health organization that "supports companies improving the quality, safety and accessibility of our healthcare system."

Secretary Cohen, Duke University’s Aaron McKethan and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Seth A. Berkowitz were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their piece focuses on how technology and data innovation can accelerate population health at scale.  

A report from the Center for Health Care Strategies highlights the comprehensive and statewide work being done at DHHS to address non-medical drivers of health such as food insecurity, lack of transportation, inadequate housing and interpersonal violence.

Janeth TapiaJaneth Tapia (left), an outreach coordinator with the North Carolina Farmworkers Project is one of nine people to receive the 2018 Award for Health Equity from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The award honors individuals who have changed systems and policies at a local level to increase the chance that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.

The winners were honored in December at RWJF’s headquarters in Princeton, N.J.

Tapia works with partners to connect nearly 3,000 farmworkers with health information and clinical care.

The Farmworkers’ Project started their health program with funding from the Office of Rural Health in 2004. Since 2016, the program has been reaching more than 2,500 farmworkers per year.


Jean Kesler VukosonJean Kesler Vukoson (left), received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Recognition Award from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation for exemplifying the highest values of public health care throughout her career.

Vukoson spent her career in nursing, beginning with direct patient care and moving to the public health field in the late 1990s. She worked as a child health nurse consultant for the last decade of her career before retiring from the Division of Public Health, helping health departments across the state serve as medical homes for children and youth in foster care and those with special health care needs. She also provided mentoring and education to nurses in local health departments. 


team from the Division of Health Service RegulationIn early January, a team from the Division of Health Service Regulation delivered 90 bags of food and supplies for hurricane victims to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. In addition, the team bagged more than 7,000 pounds of sweet potatoes for distribution to needy families. The volunteer opportunity was coordinated by the Adult Care Licensure Section.





Several DHHS employees attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action eventSeveral DHHS employees attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action event hosted by Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief organization. Volunteers gathered at the Bulla Youth Building ing Raleigh to pack 30,000 meals for those suffering from hunger around the world. Attending employees were Secretary Mandy Cohen, Mark Benton, Walker Wilson, Debra Farrington, Maggie Sauer, Lawrence Gerst, Sebastian Gimenez, Darcel Harris, Corey Alford and Hattie Gawande.




We’re looking for DHHS people and partners to give “shoutouts” to. Know of someone who deserves a shoutout? Reach out to your Division’s Communications Manager or email news@dhhs.nc.gov.