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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Sandra Romero, Thurston County Board of Health Chair at (360) 786-5747 or RomeroS@co.thurston.wa.us
Don Sloma, Director of Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Dept. at (360) 867-2502

County Public Health Director Honored as 2015 Health Care Champion
Don Sloma recognized for contribution to community health with Thurston Thrives initiative

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Director Don Sloma was recognized last night by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and the Thurston-Mason Medical Society as a "Health Care Champion" at the ninth annual Thurston-Mason Health Care Champions awards ceremony.

Along with Sloma, three others were also honored as 2015 Health Care Champions for making a significant impact on health and the health care industry in the South Sound community through heroic acts, steadfast dedication, extraordinary service and professionalism. Sloma was named the 2015 Community Impact Award recipient for his work on the county's Thurston Thrives initiative.

The Thurston Thrives initiative is a public-private partnership of the Thurston County Board of Health, public health professionals, and local community leaders and organizations, all with the mission of improving community health. Sloma helped spearhead the effort that has developed strategic plans for improving key health factors for Thurston County residents, such as education level and income, access to healthy food and affordable housing, and an environment that provides clean air, clean water, and promotes physical activity. Funding partners include the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, NW Venture Philanthropy, Thurston County, Thurston Regional Planning Council, and United Way of Thurston County.

"It is such an honor to be recognized by the community's organized medical and business leadership for Thurston Thrives, which to me is not a personal accomplishment, but truly a community-wide achievement with incredible community support and momentum," said Sloma. "Without the active engagement and leadership from our county commissioners and the non-profit, philanthropic and business communities, the burgeoning Thurston Thrives movement would not have come together. This award honors their work and their continued commitment to keeping Thurston Thrives going."

"Don is quick to point to others who have contributed to Thurston Thrives, but these last two years he has really been the energy and drive behind the movement. He's the reason why Thurston Thrives today has support from leaders and organizations from every corner of the county," said Commissioner Sandra Romero, who also serves as the Thurston County Board of Health Chair.

"Don has worked tirelessly on the Thurston Thrives initiative, and I think our community has Don to thank for embracing the concept of community health. All of our residents will reap the rewards of better, healthier lives," said Thurston County Commission Chair Cathy Wolfe.

"Don's exemplary leadership is directly linked to the improvement of community health in Thurston County. His legacy of advancing environmental health, Thurston Thrives and clinical care is unmatched when it comes improving health for every resident in the county, no matter your lifestyle. He is a visionary leader and will be missed tremendously," said Commissioner Bud Blake.

After more than three years at the helm of the county's Public Health and Social Services Department, Sloma plans to step down at the end of this summer. Sloma was persuaded by the Board of County Commissioners' offer in 2012 to come out of retirement after a forty-year career in the public health policy field, and Sloma now plans for "Retirement 2.0" to stick.

"As new opportunities present themselves, I trust that this great community's leadership will continue, as they have, to keep the best possible health for the most citizens at the forefront of their strategic thinking," said Sloma, "and never forget that the way we treat our most vulnerable citizens defines us as a community."



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3