Chillicothe, OH – Brittany Burns of the Ross County Health District was honored as Prevention Advocate of the Year at Hope Partnership Project’s Annual Meeting held on November 14 at Ohio University Chillicothe’s Stevenson Center. Burns was presented the award by Ohio University Department of Social Work Assistant Professor and First Capital Cornerstone of Change co-founder, Stacey Saunders-Adams.
Brittany’s work in drug overdose prevention has been fueled by her unwavering commitment and passion for serving her community. Burns has worked tirelessly alongside community partners to help provide drug overdose prevention education and harm reduction services to Ross County. Since January 2023, she has helped distribute 1,565 kits of naloxone through the health district and many community partners.
In 2020 after transitioning into the Drug Overdose Prevention Coordinator role, Brittany coordinated the Integrated Naloxone (IN) grant from September 2020 to September 2021. It was during this time due to COVID 19 restrictions that Burns implemented the curbside and mail order naloxone program, which remains active today. In November of 2020, Brittany began working the Drug Overdose Prevention grant which entailed state coalition meeting participation, alignment of local and state strategic plans, OFR board participation, Overdose Awareness Day event planning, and public awareness campaigns. Each year as part of this grant Burns was required to complete a comprehensive sustainable system project (implement a community project that would be sustainable after funding ends). Her year one project initiated the first EMS naloxone leave-behind program of its kind in Ross County with the Chillicothe Fire Department. In the grant’s second year, she worked with the Ross County Sheriff office dispatch in implementing software to streamline the process of overdose data collection.
In her time with RCHD, Brittany has helped organize and participate in many community events, including but not limited to: Steps of Change, the Purple Light Project for Overdose Awareness Day, spring 2023’s Bridge outreach event with local and state law enforcement and recovery partners, and most recently the Annual Chillicothe Hope Fest.
Brittany remains involved with many community committees and groups. She currently facilitates the Overdose and Suicide Fatality Review Board communications and meetings, serves as a member of the Communications Subcommittee for Hope Partnership Project, and lends her creativity and organizational skills to RCHD’s Activities Committee. Burns was also involved in this year’s implementation of harm reduction vending machines with Hope Partnership Project, HEALing Communities Study, and the Chillicothe Ross County Public Library. Out of all her many projects, Brittany’s golden heart for the community may shine brightest through her regular involvement with the homeless outreach team, where even stray kittens benefit from her care and kindness. Through multiple grants, Brittany has been able to distribute items such as hygiene kits, flashlights, and emergency radios to individuals who need them most.
Always appreciative and quick to acknowledge the work of her teammates, she states, “I am grateful for all of our community partners. It takes all of us to fight the drug epidemic,” she says.
Brittany’s humility is evident in her expression of gratitude toward many she has encountered throughout her professional journey. “I want to thank my team at RCHD and everyone who has helped me here.” Burns also gives thanks to a very special mentor, Melonie Oiler. Burns expressed, “Melonie took me under her wing when I started and shaped me into the person I am now. I am so passionate about what I do now because of her. She has inspired me to make change and fight for the people of Ross County who don’t have a voice and be an advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves.”
RCHD heartily congratulates Brittany on this well-deserved recognition of her hard work and dedication. Ross County Health Commissioner Janelle McManis stated, “I am proud that Brittany is part of the RCHD team. She is an asset not only to our agency, but also to the entire community.”
Ross County Health District Overdose Prevention Program:
Project DAWN Mail Order Program: