Virginia Department of Health Announces Public Health Nurse of the Year

May 11, 2017

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  • Lauren Cunningham, 804-864-7963

Award presented as part of National Nurses Week 2017

(Charlottesville, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today presented its 2017 Public Health Nurse of the Year award to Clare Ruday, RN, MSN, who works for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Health Department (CAHD) in the Thomas Jefferson Health District. Ruday serves as the focus nurse in the Family Planning and Sexual Health programs, in addition to working in the Immunization, Refugee, Tuberculosis (TB), Communicable Disease and Pre-Admission programs.

“Clare is a great example of so many of the characteristics we value in our public health nurses: leadership, innovation, a passion for helping patients, a focus on data-informed decisions and so much more,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “She truly embodies our agency’s mission of protecting the health and promoting the well-being of all people in Virginia in all aspects of her life. I am proud to honor her as our 2017 Public Health Nurse of the Year and I want to thank all of our public health nurses for their tireless dedication and commitment to the communities they serve.”

Ruday has been with CAHD since 2013. As evidenced by her nomination documents from colleagues, Ruday has been “a breath of fresh air to both clients and staff. She influences clients to make healthier decisions and encourages her coworkers to go the extra mile. She is the first one to volunteer to stay late or take the tough client assignment.” In addition to providing excellent clinical care, one of Ruday’s goals has always been to reach populations who wouldn’t normally seek health care. When she recognized that the current clinic schedule presented a barrier to many clients who worked during the day, she started a nurse-run testing clinic that meets once a month in the evening to meet the needs of the community. She also worked to expand the type of testing done in her program to include regular Hepatitis B and C testing for those at risk.

The announcement of Virginia’s 2017 Public Health Nurse of the Year falls during the American Nurses’ Association’s National Nurses Week, a celebration of nurses who lead the charge for health and wellness. National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

“Public health nurses are often on the frontline of care in their community,” said Robert W. Hicks, VDH deputy commissioner for Community Health Services. “Nurses like Clare can often be found working long hours with one goal in mind: improving the lives of their patients. Thank you to Clare and all of Virginia’s public health nurses for their commitment to making sure their patients receive the best care possible.”

In a letter recommending her for the award, Dr. Denise Bonds, director, Thomas Jefferson Health District, said “Clare exemplifies a public health nurse for the 21st century, driven to meet the needs of our clients, innovative, yet aware of the importance of being a data-informed agency … . She is truly deserving of the honor and a model for public health nurses throughout the state.”

Ruday’s passion for public health and dedication to improving her community’s health has led to her recognition as Virginia’s 2017 Public Health Nurse of the Year.

To learn more about public health nursing in Virginia, visit: