Ciotola named Rural Maryland Champion
CENTREVILLE — Dr. Joseph Ciotola, health officer for the Queen Anne’s County Health Department, was honored Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Linda Kohler, executive director of Chesapeake Charities, presented the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners with Ciotola’s extensive work in the community starting with his advocacy for the elderly poor in rural communities. The county Mobile Integrated Community Health Program, his initiative, is now statewide benefiting countless residents.
“We knew at Chesapeake Charities that he was a special individual in the county and the state,” said Kohler. “Every year, the Rural Maryland Council, which is established and funded by the state, looks to honor those going above and beyond. So we prepared a nomination for their highest award, the Rural Champion Award.”
Through the MICH program, public health nurses and paramedics visit impoverished individuals in their homes and link patients to community resources, improving health outcomes and reducing trips to hospital emergency rooms for those with complex medical conditions.
Aside from his duties at the Health Department, which he joined in 2012, Ciotola also serves as the medical director for the Department of the Emergency Services since 2005. His participation in state health committees has led to him testifying before the legislature on health policies.
He and Deborah Mizeur, a health policy expert and Kent County resident, served as co-chairmen of the Rural Health Care Workgroup that was created during the 2016 General Assembly session.
The Maryland Health Care Commission panel oversaw a study of health care delivery in the Mid-Shore and to develop a plan to meet health care needs of residents on the Eastern Shore. Among its considerations, the workgroup sought ways to preserve services at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.
Ciotola practiced at the Orthopedic Association of Central Maryland P.A., Baltimore, from 1978 to 2006.
“We submitted his name and there were hundreds of applications and he was selected for this award. There was a presentation and Gov. (Larry) Hogan provided a citation to Dr. Ciotola,” Kohler said.
Ciotola was quick to note that the honor was not a singular effort as the many in Queen Anne’s County were responsible for the achievement.
“This is not just a one-man show. This is something that was accomplished by the dedication of many individuals in this county,” Ciotola said. “These individuals come from the Department of Emergency Services and the Department of Health and not in the least way, the commissioners of this county who had the faith and confidence to start the MICH program.”
The county provided the pilot program that facilitated the statewide iterations of the program.
“We’re still fighting that battle for sustainability, but it is a program that truly addresses the needs of our elderly, our vulnerable, and those that most need medical help,” he said.
Damani is a male cat in need of a forever home. For more information on Damani and other adoptable pets at the Humane Society of Kent County, visit www.kenthumane.org/adopt. The HSKC shelter is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Contact the HSKC at 410-778-3648 or [email protected]thumane.org.
Dr. Joseph Ciotola, health officer for the Queen Anne’s County Health Department, addresses the need for outreach to underserved populations.