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Laker to receive 2007 Roemer award for creative health work.

STEPHEN E. Laker, MS, LEHP LEHP Lions Eye Health Program (Oak Brook, IL) , has been selected as winner of the 2007 Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work.

The award recognizes a local health officer who has demonstrated exceptionally creative and innovative work in the field of public health.

Laker has been public health administrator for the Vermilion County Vermilion County or Vermillion County is the name of several counties in the United States:
  • Vermilion County, Illinois
  • Vermilion Parish, Louisiana
  • Vermillion County, Indiana
 Health Department in Danville, Ill., since 1976. He began his work there in 1971 as an environmental health inspector A health inspector, or Environmental Health Specialist is a public employee who investigates health hazards in a wide variety of locations, then will take action to mitigate or eliminate the hazards.  and from 1975-1982, concurrently worked as director of environmental health.


Seen by his peers as a public health visionary in the area of bioterrorism preparedness, Laker has been the driving force behind the development of the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System. He was elected chair of the system's executive board in 2005 for the first term and is working to ensure the system meets the diverse needs of local public health departments across the state. During a January 2007 site visit, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center.  said the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System, which seeks to strengthen preparedness, is a model for states nationwide. The system is designed to ensure that local public health departments share resources such as personnel, equipment, supplies and services in the event of an emergency requiring a public health response.

Illinois Public Health Association President Miriam Link-Mullison said in a letter nominating Laker for the Roemer award that the mutual aid system has been both groundbreaking and necessary.

"What better way to improve health than striving for mutually beneficial Adj. 1. mutually beneficial - mutually dependent
interdependent, mutualist

dependent - relying on or requiring a person or thing for support, supply, or what is needed; "dependent children"; "dependent on moisture"
 goals," she said. "It is comforting to know that in the event of a disaster, trained local public health professionals will be able to assist a health department in (its) time of need."

A longtime partner with the Emergency Management Agency in Vermilion County, Laker began discussions in the late 1990s about bioterrorism. He has worked with groups such as the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and others across the region and state to ensure local public health efforts resulted in improved terrorism preparedness. Laker worked as a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee Local Emergency Planning Committees are quasi-governmental bodies, generally at the county or municipal level, in the United States. They do not function in actual emergency situations, but attempt to have identified and catalogued potential hazards and all sorts of resources,  to ensure needed funding for the county's Hazardous Materials Team. He has been an active supporter of Vermilion vermilion, vivid red pigment of durable quality. It is a chemical compound of mercury and sulfur and is known as red sulfide of mercury; it was formerly obtained by grinding pure cinnabar but is now commonly prepared synthetically.  County's annual chemical stockpile emergency planning and preparedness field exercises.

He is a member of many statewide committees, including the Illinois Department of Public Health's Immunization immunization: see immunity; vaccination.  Advisory Committee, the director's Local Health Liaison Committee The Liaison Committee is a topical committee of the British House of Commons, the lower house of the United Kingdom Parliament. It includes the Chairmen of the 30 Select Committees.  and the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. He has served as president of the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators and chair of the association's Women, Infants and Children/ Family Case Management/ Futures Committee. He received the association's Leadership and Service Award as well as the Special Recognition Award.

Among Laker's many awards, he has been honored with the Illinois Public Health Association's Public Health Enterprise and Promotion Award as well as the Illinois Primary Health Care Association and Office of Community Health Partnership Award. He also received the Community Blood Service of Illinois Appreciation of Whole Blood Donations Award.
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Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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