Health Commissioner Announces State and Regional Public Health Nurses of the Year

May 5, 2016

For More Information Contact

  • Lorrie Andrew-Spear – 703-530-2627

Arlington, Portsmouth and Richmond City Nurses Recognized for Outstanding Service

(RICHMOND, Va.)— Melinda O’Brien, vulnerable populations senior public health nurse in the Community Health Protection Bureau of the Arlington County Public Health Division, received this year’s Virginia Department of Health Public Health Nurse of the Year award. State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP, presented O’Brien with the honor today during National Nurses Week, which recognizes the important role nurses play in health care.

“Melinda O’Brien’s dedication to vulnerable populations and refugees exemplifies the very best of public health nursing,” said Dr. Levine. “She is tireless in her dedication to the refugee community and public health in general. Her coworkers describe her as a team player who always goes above and beyond for her clients, the community and her fellow team members. Her caring and compassion are what we all aspire to achieve in order to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.”

O’Brien’s work in the Refugee Health, Tuberculosis and Division of Surveillance and Investigation programs over the past eight years has had her wearing many hats. She is the liaison for Arlington County’s four Refugee Health/Shelters. She develops and trains new shelter staff, coordinates annual trainings, conducts flu vaccination outreach efforts, gives communicable disease consults, and deals with infection control issues. She also manages tuberculosis cases in the Chest Clinic, providing patient care and coordinating that care among the patient, the family and other support services.

During Virginia’s Ebola traveler monitoring program, O’Brien spent countless hours monitoring those in the program, as well as providing group education to other agencies to allay fears about the disease. She won an Arlington County Department of Human Services Performance Award in 2015 for her work on Ebola.

O’Brien helps others outside of work, too. She is an active member of the citizens association and the neighborhood beautification committee in her Washington, D.C. community. She also collaborates with a local community group striving to help keep aging and disabled individuals in their homes as long as possible, and volunteers at the DC Central Kitchen.

Regional Public Health Nurses of the Year

The Health Commissioner and staff also recognized two other public health nurses today for their outstanding contributions within their health regions. Karla Shuler of the Portsmouth Health District and Laurinda Finn-Davis of the Richmond City Health District were honored as Eastern Region and Central Region Public Health Nurses of the year, respectively.

Public Health Nurse Supervisor Karla Shuler has dedicated her life to bettering the health of those in her community. While serving as the District’s Baby Care nurse, she helped more than 100 families in the clinic. As Nurse Manager, she has implemented many initiatives and programs focused on the needs of the community, such as events for National Public Health Week, information at the library, and a program for the homeless. She serves on several committees and has collaborated with the community to make a real difference.

“Karla’s dedication to her promoting a healthy community makes her a role model for her employees,” said Levine. “Her work ethic is characterized by service, excellence and professionalism – qualities we all aspire to achieve in our work, and our lives.”

Reproductive Health Nursing Supervisor Laurinda Finn-Davis currently serves as the supervisor for both Maternity and Family Planning services. As a nurse in the reproductive field for more than 35 years, Laurinda has achieved many accolades, including being recognized as a Clinical Expert in this field by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her true passion is reaching out and helping those in need. She has made inroads into the faith and homeless communities in her area, starting several education and assistance programs that have touched many lives and made them better.

“Laurinda is dedicated to assisting her clients in making the best decisions for their health, the health of their babies and their families,” said Levine. “From prenatal care to safe sleeping to fatherhood initiatives, Laurinda covers all the bases when it comes to improving reproductive health.”