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Retired Arizona nurse among 10 chosen to receive national award

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PRINCETON, N.J. – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selected Frances Stout, a retired registered nurse and chairperson of the Tohono O’odham Nursing Care Authority in Sells, Ariz., to receive a Community Health Leaders Award.

Stout helped establish the first skilled nursing facility for elderly Native Americans for the Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized Indian tribe. Previously, the elderly had to leave the reservation for skilled nursing care. With the benefit of her 33-year nursing career, Stout contributed to the creation of the 60-bed skilled nursing facility, the first of its kind on the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation. She also helped create the elder care consortium, a coalition of entities within the Tohono O’odham Nation working to address the wide-ranging issues affecting elderly Native Americans, including transportation, housing and safety.

“Frances Stout had already spent a lifetime providing health care for people as a nurse,” said Janice Ford Griffin, national program director for the award. “After she retired, she found a new calling working to address the health care needs of aging Native Americans within her own tribe, the Tohono O’odham Nation.”

This year, more than 532 nominations were submitted for the 2009 Community Health Leaders Award from across the United States. Through a rigorous process, the foundation selected 10 outstanding individuals, all of whom have worked to improve health conditions in their communities with exceptional creativity, courage and commitment.

 

“I am deeply honored by this award, and I hope it brings attention to the plight of our elderly and the challenges we face on Indian reservations,” Stout said. “I share this award with all of the TONCA board members and the legislative council of the nation who had the passion and courage to pursue such an ambitious and important project.”

The chair of the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Austin Nunez, said Stout essentially launched a second career by agreeing to serve as vice chair of the San Xavier District Council Health Committee. “It is not simply her skill set that makes her irreplaceable, but also her passion to improve the health of our O’odham people, and to commit herself and others to that task.”

The award honors exceptional men and women from all over the country who overcome significant obstacles to tackle some of the most challenging health and health care problems facing their communities and the nation. The Community Health Leaders Award elevates the work of the leaders by raising awareness of their extraordinary contributions through national visibility, a $125,000 award and networking opportunities.

There are nine other 2009 Community Health Leaders in addition to Stout. Their work includes oral health services for remote communities; self-directed care for persons with physical disabilities; a marriage between health care and legal aid; care for victims of torture; culturally sensitive and appropriate health care for Cambodian-American immigrants; low-cost family planning and health care for men and boys; a mentoring program to help disadvantaged youth pursue health careers; and mental health services for the underserved.

Since 1993, the program has honored more than 160 health leaders in nearly every state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. For details on how to submit a nomination, including eligibility requirements and selection criteria, visit the Web site.