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Public health worker receives humanitarian award

Denise Linnenkohl accepts the Walter Harrison Humanitarian Award. At left is Jim Lowry, president of the Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation and right is Dr. Seth Berl, the 2012 recipient of the award.

Denise Linnenkohl accepts the Walter Harrison Humanitarian Award. At left is Jim Lowry, president of the Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation and right is Dr. Seth Berl, the 2012 recipient of the award.

MOULTRIE, Ga. -- Denise Linnenkohl did not go into the health care field for the recognition. But her devotion has allowed her to stand out nonetheless.

Linnenkohl, county nurse manager for the Colquitt County Health Department, was presented the Walter Harrison Humanitarian Award at the Colquitt Regional Medical Foundation gala recently at the Colquitt County Arts Center.

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From left are Denise Linnenkohl and Kitty Bishop, the director of nursing and clinical services for the Southwest Public Health District.

"I'm just floored and honored that I was nominated," Linnenkohl said. "I'm humbled and I'm honored, and I can't say enough."

Linnenkohl said she was notified that she would be receiving the award two days before the Feb. 21 ceremony.

"I just didn't feel like I deserved it," she said. "I just do what I do and don't expect recognition. Public health nursing is my passion."

The award was established as part of an annual effort to recognize individual health care workers who demonstrate a commitment to compassionate health care service and community outreach. It came about as the result of a contribution made to the foundation in memory of Dr. Walter E. Harrison Jr. after his death in December 2010.

The Walter E. Harrison Jr. Humanitarian Fund established an annual award for someone who reflects what are considered the guiding principles of Harrison's career.

"Denise has been in public health for 25 years," said Kitty Bishop, director of nursing and clinical services for the Southwest Public Health District. "She is the epitome of what a public health nurse is and does.

"She is extremely professional."

Linnenkohl worked as a women's health nurse before coming into her current position in November 2007. She had connections to the award's namesake, as Harrison would come in to see the female public health patients when they were beyond the care the health department could provide. He did so at no cost.

"We had a good working relationship," Linnenkohl recalled.

Linnenkohl has also been active in disaster planning and has also been actively involved in flu vaccine campaigns and health fairs throughout Colquitt County. In addition, she works at a nursing home in Moultrie on the weekends.

"It is such a great honor for public health," Linnenkohl said. "We tend not to be recognized for what we do.

"It really has given us a different way of looking at public health employees, who are good people trying to keep the community healthy."

Bishop said Linnenkohl had received several nominations for the award.

"It was well-deserved," Bishop said. "If I could clone her, I would have 14 nurse managers like her."

Dr. Seth Berl was the first to receive the award last year.