Spirit of Leadership Awards Just One Way to Say ‘Thank You’
Each year, the Leadership Polk Alumni Association recognizes an organization and an individual for their commitment to improving the Polk County community. This past year has presented unique challenges to our region, as well as the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of our lives, and in so doing has highlighted the incredibly vital roles played by various individuals within our communities.
While many rose to the occasion to provide support during these times, it is truly our medical community that has made the biggest impact on how this global crisis has been handled. The dedication of our healthcare providers has saved lives and helped us stay safe. For that reason, among others, the Leadership Polk Alumni Association is proud to present the annual Spirit of Leadership Polk awards to our area’s leading healthcare providers.
Central Florida Health Care has been recognized for its tireless work improving the lives of our citizens by bridging the gaps in health care that are too often found within agricultural communities. For nearly 50 years, the team at Central Florida Health Care has worked to provide a broad range of medical services for those living in Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties.
For over a year, this organization has provided food to communities through its George W. Jenkins End Hunger Initiative with the help of the United Way and many volunteers. It was quick to offer COVID testing, and when it identified issues with residents who were unable to access testing, it sent out mobile testing units. It has also provided COVID-19 vaccinations to almost 1,000 people, including some of our most vulnerable populations.
Ann Clausen, CEO of Central Florida Health Care, responded to the award, saying, “On behalf of Central Florida Health Care, it was such an honor to be recognized as the recipient of the 2020 Polk Vision Spirit of Leadership Award. While 2020 presented so many challenges, it also presented so many opportunities for our staff to demonstrate that we truly are health care with a heart. I am so very proud of our organization and that we can, and do, make a difference in so many people’s lives every day.”
The individual award for the Spirit of Leadership Polk goes to Dr. Joy Jackson, director of the Florida Departments of Health for Polk and Hardee counties. A graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, she has been a valued member of Polk County’s medical community for more than 30 years. Dr. Jackson took on her current role in 2015 and is the first female director to attain this position in Polk County. While the pandemic placed incredible demand and pressure on Jackson and her team, she fearlessly led our communities through the crisis and crafted the successful deployment of various preventive measures and vaccine distributions to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this recognition from Polk Vision,” Jackson told us. “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone. Many public and private sector partners have worked together to help limit the spread of COVID-19 disease, to provide medical care to those who have been sickened, to offer testing, and to administer vaccinations. I am appreciative of individual citizens who have followed steps to protect not only themselves but their neighbors. Our work is not done, but hopefully, we are now on safer footing. I am so proud to be part of this community and the health department team. I’m appreciative of the tremendous work of Polk Vision as they serve to be a collaborative, visioning organization that strives to improve the quality of life in Polk.”
While the Spirit of Leadership award is given to one group and one individual each year, it is important to recognize the contributions made by our entire medical community over the past year in helping to protect the public. We give our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Jackson, Central Florida Health Care and the rest of our healthcare providers who have worked so hard to help us all.