(Honesdale, November 16, 2016)… More than 40 people stood up from their chairs to show their respect and applause for John “Jack” Dennis on Tuesday night, November 15th, when the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health presented Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Grants, Development & Veterans Outreach manager with its Community Rural Health Leader of the Year award.
Lisa Davis, director of the PA Office of Rural Health, called Jack Dennis “exemplary” and very deserving. As she presented the award, Davis noted Jack’s nomination pointed out the millions of dollars in competitive grant money secured by Jack that helped meet two of rural healthcare’s biggest challenges: providing access and breadth of services. Her department, she added, honored those like Jack who “enhanced the health status of rural Pennsylvanians and strengthened the delivery and quality of care in the communities in which they live.”
In the last 20 years, Dennis has helped Wayne Memorial implement new services such as 24/7 tele-neurology and low-cost dental care for children, build and expand facilities such as the Pike County Medical Center and recruit both primary care and specialty providers.
What may be Dennis’ crowning legacy was a successful application for a “federally qualified health center,” a designation that helps the under-and-uninsured access healthcare by providing incentives for providers to treat them. The designation allowed primary care, dental and behavioral health providers affiliated with Wayne Memorial to become their own entity: Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC). Today, WMCHC operates nine primary care offices, four women’s health centers, two dental practices, two Behavioral Health offices and four specialty practices (cardiology, neurology, pulmonology and surgery). The Centers employ more than 200 people, including doctors, nurse-practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives.
“If it weren’t for Jack, I probably wouldn’t even be here,” said Frederick Jackson, executive director WMCHC, “and many people in our community would not have quality healthcare available to them.”
“Jack has worked tirelessly for this community and our hospital,” said David Hoff, WMH CEO. “When we thought it couldn’t happen, Jack made it happen.” Hoff noted that it was Mr. Dennis who, in addition to the all above, helped bring a VA Outpatient Clinic to Honesdale.
“I am humbled and grateful,” Dennis said as he was urged to speak. Not a lover of the spotlight, he was also quick to share the applause. “I have had the pleasure of working with great leadership here at Wayne Memorial—and I hope to continue to do so.”
Dennis was nominated by Donna Decker, RN, a 2007 recipient of the same award, and Jean Tuttle, both with WMH Community Health.