Dale Quinney, former ARHA Executive Director, won the National Rural Health Association’s President’s Award in 2022. Below is the announcement from NRHA in recognition of Dale’s achievements:
As the Executive Director of the Alabama Rural Health Association for 16 years, Dale Quinney has made a difference by using data to deliver powerful messages promoting rural health. His special talent is knowing how to present data to generate the reaction that is needed to enact change.
In 2009 and again in 2013, Dale produced the Selected Health Status Indicator Reports for each of Alabama’s 67 counties. These reports presented measures on more than 90 health status indicators, comparing the county to the state and the nation on each indicator. These reports were used to identify local health issues and obtain additional information for writing more competitive grant applications. He shared the report with local papers, elected officials, and other stakeholders to showcase healthcare as an economic factor.
Dale served as the leader of a team of data specialists to develop the first Community Health Assessment for Alabama, working with the Alabama Department of Public Health and over 300 other organizations. The team determined the ten leading health issues through large surveys, and compiled them into a detailed report which had special emphasis on Alabama’s rural areas.
Dale leveraged data to save the Wedowee Hospital. Randolph County had already lost its largest hospital and the hospital in Wedowee was old and in bad condition. A large medical center in Georgia agreed to staff and furnish a new hospital in Wedowee if the county could provide 20 million to build the facility.
Dale was contacted by a member of the county commission and asked to speak at a public forum which promised to be heated. Polls indicated that the people were not going to pass a 1 cent sales tax to build the hospital since they were already paying a property tax for healthcare. At the public forum, Dale pointed out that Randolph County had the 2nd highest motor vehicle accident death rate, the 3rd highest accidental firearm death rate, and the 2nd highest stroke death rate among all 67 Alabama counties. He noted that these were situations where the victims needed to get to a hospital emergency department as soon as possible.
His remarks, along with additional information he provided to the local newspaper, were given credit for changing public opinion on the proposed tax. It was approved, receiving 84% of the vote.
His colleagues at other state rural health associations have wonderful comments about his work:
Ryan Kelly from Mississippi says, “From the first time that I met Dale Quinney, I could instantly tell that his passion for improving rural health was deeper than just a career. He lived in rural Alabama, dedicated his free time toward improving rural healthcare, and he sincerely wanted the best for all people. It is determination and dedication like this that makes a true difference in the lives and hearts of others. He has inspired me through my journey in rural health, and no doubt has done the same with so many others.”
Tina Elliot from Indiana remarked, “I’ve enjoyed meeting Dale at various National Rural Health Association events, and learn about how he is meeting the needs of rural communities through Operation Save Rural Alabama, an organization he founded. Dale speaks about materials produced in rural areas that are critical to the survival of rural communities that produce economic impacts for everyone. He shares about the lack of healthy population growth and how to meet the healthcare needs in rural Alabama. Dale talks about his involvement with establishing an Area Health Education Center program in Alabama to expand the healthcare workforce and to create opportunities for interprofessional education.”
Beth O’Connor, who as 2022 NRHA President selected Dale, added, “Concerning the state I represent, Virginia, Dale impressed on me the need to convey information to our elected officials regarding everything rural communities do to support the United States as a whole. He helped me understand how rural communities need to stop begging for resources that came from our land and start communicating how rural supports urban.”
Dale has received many accolades for his work, including the D.G. Gill Award for making an exceptional contribution to public health in Alabama, and the Ira Myers Award. This is the most prestigious public health award in Alabama and is presented to those making a significant impact on public health in Alabama. Dale is one of only two non-physicians to ever receive the Ira Myers Award.
Dale insists that his most important recognition is his family. He and his wife, Susan, have been married for 46 years. Their children Brent and Leigh, along with their spouses, are carrying on Dale’s legacy by making their own contributions to healthcare in Alabama. Dale and Susan have six grandchildren, including two sets of twins.
Addressing the rural crisis in many states and local communities requires leadership, commitment, and coordination, and Dale Quinney has offered those to rural Alabama, and rural America.2