By Jim Bloch
The St. Clair County Medical Society recently announced that Dr. Annette Mercatante and Dr. Sushma Reddy are the 2021 recipients of the Dr. Bassam Nasr Community Service Leadership Award.
The contributions of the doctors have demonstrated an “unwavering commitment to the health of our community,” said Annamarie Kindsvater, executive director of SCCMS, in a statement.
The Society, based in St. Clair, made the announcement Feb. 9.
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Because of the pandemic, the award ceremony was held virtually and included a prerecorded video by Dr. Nasr’s wife Marcelle. Dr. Nasr died in 2019.
“I’m honored to share this award with Dr Sushma Reddy who I’ve worked with in many projects,” said Mercatante via email. “The medical society created this award to honor local medical providers who go above and beyond for the benefit of the community in the spirit of Dr Bassam Nasr, who received the first award posthumously. We hope the public recognizes the important and sometimes thankless long hours and critical decisions healthcare providers make every day for the benefit of community.”
Kindsvater talked about the commitment of the honorees.
“When Dr. Mercatante accepted the position of Medical Health Officer of the St. Clair County Health Department, she could never have foreseen the unprecedented health crisis that would envelop our nation,” said Kindsvater. “Nor could she have foreseen the need to rapidly redefine the mission of the Health Department from ‘achieving optimal wellbeing’ to containing the local impact of a worldwide pandemic and keeping the citizens of our community alive,” said Kindsvater.
Mercatante marshaled her public health expertise and her ability to make sound, quick decisions in the service of protecting the county, said Kindsvater.
“The Health Department suddenly became critical in our community’s response to COVID-19, including our access to essential training, procurement of PPE, contact tracing, developing risk profiles, maintaining and disseminating data on resource availability and ultimately taking a pivotal role in the vaccination process,” said Kindsvater, adding that Mercatante’s leadership has been critical in minimizing the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the county.
Dr. Reddy was honored for her career-long commitment to the fitness, nutrition and overall health of all county residents.
“She was a leader in bringing ‘Prescribe the Y’ to local physicians and patients,” Kindsvater said. “She started the Blue Water Walking Club nearly 20 years ago. She has been the driving force behind ‘Walk for Summer Reading since 2009. She has volunteered at the People’s Clinic for over 15 years and she has generously given her time to many additional causes.”
Dr Reddy has served on the board of directors of many organizations dedication to the health of the county, including the YMCA, McLaren Port Huron Diabetes Advisory Committee, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and the Port Huron Area School District’s Health Advisory Committee.
Both doctors embody the spirit of the Nasr award, Kindsvater said.
“Sharing our passion and talents in medicine is a privilege and we often underestimate the impact we can have,” said Mercatante. “I hope this award reminds people of how much physicians and other healthcare workers do for our community.”
Mercatante served as president of the SCCMS in 2020. Dr. John Pelachyk has now become president, moving up from his office as president-elect. Dr. Beau Dowden is the new president-elect.