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posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2018
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has honored Carolyn Emanuel-McClain, Chief Executive Officer of Rural Health Services, Inc., in Aiken, South Carolina, with the 2018 John Gilbert Award. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of excellence in the community health care field. It was presented at the 49th annual NACHC Community Health Institute & EXPO (CHI) in Orlando, FL, a national conference attended by more than 2,000 community health leaders from across the country.
Emanuel-McClain is among the pioneers of the Community Health Center Movement in the rural pockets of North and South Carolina. She began her career at Pembroke Medical Services, a National Health Service Corps site in the southern part of the Tar Heel state. In 1981, she founded the Lumbee Medical Center in Pembroke and secured the first round of 330 funding for a health center in the town of Robeson, NC, and then moved on in the 1986 to become the Executive Director of Family Health Centers in Orangeburg, NC. It was the first health center in South Carolina to receive JCAHO accreditation. From 2001 to 2009 she worked with several health centers around the state, and as a consultant with the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA). In addition to her professional work, Emanuel-McClain advocated on behalf of health centers at the state and national level. She served as past Chair of NACHC and as past President of SCPHCA. She was awarded the Margaret J. Weston Award by the annual South Carolina Primary Health Care Association in 2015. She graduated from the UNC-School of Public Health (Chapel Hill, NC) with a Master's degree in Public Health (Administration) in 1979.
The John Gilbert Award was established in recognition of John Gilbert's outstanding contribution to NACHC and the community health care field prior to his death in 1974. The award is presented to an individual who, as a member of either the board or staff of a health center, has demonstrated a level of excellence in the community health care field.
"I'm also grateful to the torch bearers who instilled in me the desire to serve, and who fueled my passion to help the helpless and those who felt hopeless," Emanuel-McClain said. "It has been my purpose in life to nurture and mentor those in need of health care, those seeking an entry into the primary care workforce and those desiring to take a leadership role in Community Health."
Emanuel-McClain graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master's degree in public health administration. She founded the Lumbee Medical Center, now Robeson Health Care Corporation, in Pembroke, and was responsible for obtaining the first PHS Section 330 funding for a health center in Robeson County.