Shelia Wise (LinkedIn photo)
Shelia Wise, a paramedic and training major at Estill County EMS in Irvine, has been recognized today by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health as a “Community Star” for her community education efforts and her work in helping to shape her hometown EMS service into what she considers one of the best in the state.
Wise, who began a career in accounting before switching to EMS in the 1990s, holds just about every instructor certification available in the field (and others outside of it), and she puts them to use — not just in training first responders, but also staff at the local hospital, other clinics, health departments, schools, churches, other community organizations and students in a nearby university-based paramedic program.
She’s been involved in efforts to combat substance use disorder, including serving as a member of the region’s Overdose Task Force. She also serves as a medical liaison to the county coroner’s office.
And Wise has been instrumental — along with her husband, Jimmie, the director of the EMS service — in developing the close relationship that exists between the service and Mercy Health-Marcum & Wallace Hospital, the critical-access hospital that is the service’s next-door neighbor.
“I can tell you I am so honored to have received this recognition. I don’t feel that I do anything special,” Shelia Wise said. “I just do a job that I love in a community that I grew up in, where I know most everyone. A lot of my patients have watched me grow up. So, when I am working in this community, I am caring for not just patients — but truly my friends and family.”
She added: “Jimmie and I have worked with EMS for a very long time. We eat, sleep and drink emergency services and would not have it any other way.”
As part of the Community Star recognition, Wise is featured in an electronic book released on National Rural Health Day, Nov. 18. The publication, on the powerofrural.org website, features stories of 50 Community Stars from across the country. The book is also available for purchase in print.
“Shelia Wise is one of those health care professionals who really gets it — she understands what it means to work in a rural community, that those communities often face limited resources, but that the residents living there deserve the highest level of care possible,” said Ernie Scott, the director of the Kentucky Office of Rural Health. “Rural Kentucky is where she’s from. Rural Kentucky is where she works. Rural Kentucky is who she is. And, rural Kentucky is where her heart is. The Irvine community, Estill County and all of Kentucky are lucky to have her here.”
Each Community Star was nominated for recognition by someone familiar with their rural health work and contributions. A selection committee reviewed and evaluated nominations and made recommendations on which stories to include in this year’s publication.
Past nominees have included physicians, nurses, allied health providers, hospital administrators, board members, volunteers, community health workers and first responders. Other nominees have included coalitions and collaborators working together on initiatives that address a specific health crisis or need, or drive large-scale health and wellness programs.
The Community Stars initiative, begun in 2015, shines a spotlight each year on individuals and organizations who work every day to close gaps, open doors, address challenges and develop solutions through collaboration, education, innovation and communication.