COPH names 2008 Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health

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Tampa, FL (April 2, 2008) — Miami-Dade County Health Department Administrator Lillian Rivera, RN, MSN, PhD, has been named the Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health for 2008 by the University of South Florida College of Public Health.
The College bestows the award each year to a woman whose career accomplishments and leadership have contributed significantly to the field of public health in Florida. Rivera was honored at an awards ceremony at 4 p.m., April 2, at the USF College of Public Health.

As head of the Miami-Dade County Health Department, Rivera manages more than 1,000 employees and a $67-million annual budget. She joined the department in 1990 as nursing director and has served as administrator since 2003, except for a six-month stint as Florida’s deputy health officer in 2007.

Following Hurricane Andrew, Rivera organized nurses assisting in the recovery efforts and was instrumental in securing $5 million in CDC grants to support the needs of a community devastated by the disaster. She established multidisciplinary and multicultural Community Health Action Teams to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases. As a result of September 11th and subsequent anthrax cases in Florida, Rivera developed a comprehensive bioterrorism response system for public health. She helped create the Miami-Dade Hospital Preparedness Consortium to work with the county in coordinating healthcare emergency preparedness and hospital surge capacity and the Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade to combat increasing rates of chronic disease.

She spearheaded the funding initiative to open two new clinics in the underserved communities of West Perrine and Little Haiti, and recently obtained legislative funds to replace the main clinic complex in the Health Care District of Miami-Dade.

Rivera established an Office of Quality Management and introduced a management model to improve the organization’s operational effectiveness, customer value and overall results. Under her tenure as administrator, the health department in Miami-Dade has twice won the Governor’s Sterling Award (2002 and 2006), the state’s most prestigious award for performance excellence.

A public health leader with numerous awards, Rivera serves as president of the Florida Sterling Council, an advisory group member for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pipeline to Practice: Nurse Leader on Boards program, and a founding member of the Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County.

She earned her MSN degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a PhD in health administration for Warren National University. She is a certified healthcare risk manager, a graduate of the Executive Institute for Community Health Nurses (UNC-Chapel Hill) and a fellow of the RWJ Nurse Executive Program.

The Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health Award was initiated by USF in 1988, and nominations are solicited from public health practitioners across the state. Past honorees have included Lillian Stark, director of virology at the Florida Department of Health Tampa Branch Laboratory; Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department; and University of Miami epidemiologist Lora E. Fleming, MD.

– USF Health –

USF Health is dedicated to creating a model of health care based on understanding the full spectrum of health. It includes the University of South Florida’s colleges of medicine, nursing, and public health; the schools of biomedical sciences as well as physical therapy & rehabilitation sciences; and the USF Physicians Group. With $308 million in research funding last year, USF is one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities and one of Florida’s top three research universities.

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– News release by Anne DeLotto Baier/USF Health Communications