ALLISON SEIGARS, NWOSU, ALVA, OK
The Rural Health Association of Oklahoma recognized Kevin Evans last week for his work in rural medicine. Mr. Evans received “Rural Health Leader of the Year” at the Awards Luncheon during the 2021 Rural Health Conference in Edmond, OK.
Kevin Evans is Executive Director of Western Plains Youth and Family Services, (WPYFS) Woodward, where he has served thousands of young people with behavioral and mental health problems and their families in NW Oklahoma and the Panhandle for the past 29 years.
Corie Kaiser, Director of the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health and the President of the Rural Health Association of Oklahoma presented Evans with the award. Kaiser, quoting the nomination for the award, submitted by Dr. Tom M. Lucas, said, “Mr. Evans’ passion for children in need and his leadership has led to WPYFS becoming the primary mental health service provider in the region.”
WPYFS now has over 65 employees, offices in Woodward, Guymon, Laverne, and operates a juvenile detention center in Woodward. WPYFS also operates a temporary emergency youth shelter, and Mr. Evans recently established a Mobile Crisis Unit to respond to emergencies at all hours. He has undertaken the first real rehabilitation program in Oklahoma at the juvenile center, aimed at helping children change their lives and have a productive life. He tells them "we are investing in you to never come back."
“The words ‘give up’ are not in Kevin Evans’ vocabulary,” said Kaiser.
During his acceptance speech, Evans said, “I appreciate this association and I look forward to working toward their efforts in the future.”
Other Rural Health Association of Oklahoma award recipients this year are: “Rural Health Advocate of the Year,” Lucy Muller, Executive Director of Human Resources, Education, and Volunteer Services at McAlester Regional Health Center, McAlester; “Rural Health Physician of the Year,” Dr. Matthew Cameron Rumsey, Medical Director at the Indian Health service in Pawhuska and Medical Director of the Cohesive Healthcare Management & Consulting; “Rural Health Educator of the Year,” Michele Horn, Clinical Educator and Northeast Area Health Education (NeAHEC) Director, Tahlequah; and “Rural Health Lifetime Achievement,” Shelly Dunham, Okeene Municipal Hospital, retired.
The Rural Health Association of Oklahoma’s mission is “serving as a united voice for rural health in Oklahoma.”