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Shannon Ernst, Churchill County’s Social Services Director, was honored by Nevada Business Magazine at its Healthcare Heroes banquet on October 5 at the Atlantis Hotel in Reno.
Ernst earned the honor of “2023 Healthcare Hero – Community Partner.”
The Healthcare Heroes program annually recognizes 10 healthcare professionals in both southern and northern Nevada in categories including care provider, administrator, educator, community partner, humanitarian, physician and volunteer among others.
The Nevada Business Magazine selected Ernst due to her work in rural communities where she has increased access to services through outreach and communication.
“One project that she helped implement is the Community Health Worker Program which reaches out to those in need of health services, provides referrals and then follows back up with them. This program has helped both homebound citizens as well as those experiencing homelessness or confined in detention facilities,” the magazine’s editors noted in the event’s program.
Ernst was instrumental in leading Churchill County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and created the county’s public health department to help the community respond to the needs for testing, vaccination and treatment. Because of the success of the department and the county’s response to the pandemic, state leadership approved the Central Nevada Health District earlier this year as the first rural multi-jurisdictional health district in Nevada.
Shannon shouldered the bulk of Churchill County’s COVID response while continuing to provide services for the local homeless population, guardianship cases and other social programs for those needing such services in the community.
Additionally, her department assumed operational management of the William N. Pennington Life Center two years ago and quickly rose to provide increased services and further access for local seniors. This effort allowed the department to increase access to wellness services, provide activities to increase health outcomes, and support to maintain a safe, independent lifestyle. To do this, she has increased staffing and programming offerings and improved food services, both congregant dining and via Meals on Wheels, to meet the needs of senior citizens in the community.
This is the first Healthcare Hero honor for a Churchill County employee.
Photo caption: Shannon Ernst, center, with Jackee Stewart, left, Social Services Office Supervisor and Jill Manha, right, Senior and Disabilities Services Manager. Photo by Jordan Ernst.