Making lasting strides in community health goes well beyond routine, day-to-day duties. It involves working with people to foster that community-level impact, cultivate progress, and carry the work forward to future generations.
When Lynn Peterson moved to Woodstock and joined the Ottauquechee Health Foundation years ago, he felt the strength of that positive impact.
“I dug into the log the Foundation had kept, especially around its founding, and I really grew to appreciate the amount of work and effort people had given to a wonderful enterprise,” he said.
Peterson, who brought over four decades of experience in the healthcare field, said OHF was the local “catalyst” for a community health care model encouraging doctors, social workers and mental health professionals to work together to address community health needs. At OHF, which was formed in 1996, that included giving grants to individuals and organizations.
“There aren’t many communities that have something like that in Vermont,” Peterson said.
Before coming to Vermont, he spent 40 years practicing surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Boston area. For about half that time, he worked in the medical ethics field, teaching students and doing research projects.
“What I learned is, there are a lot of things we can do as providers and community members in ensuring the welfare of our patients,” Peterson said.
Peterson got a chance to contribute to that work for OHF member towns, after he moved to Woodstock full-time in 2004, and joined the OHF Board in 2006. For six years, he led an effort to research the needs of the community. That process resulted in the creation of the Foundation’s community care coordinator position in 2011, to help address a range of ongoing health needs. Peterson said that position remains vital to this day.
“Finding the finances for the care of your loved one, and finding support through visiting nurses, was not simple,” he said. “Having someone to turn to was really important.”
Peterson said helping to create that important position was one of his most memorable experiences as an OHF member. And he’s appreciated the chance to get to know other members helping the Foundation in this work.
“I think it’s a way of getting to know the community, in the sense of getting to know the needs and how those needs can be met,” Peterson said.
Along with helping OHF, Peterson also spent seven years on the Board of Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center – which oversees the Ottauquechee Health Center.
He now lives in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and remains an active participant in the Woodstock community, including his continuing support of OHF. He said the Foundation reflects the community’s dedication to the health care that happens beyond the doctor’s office – something he’s long valued.
“There is more to healthcare than just the technical side,” he said. “There is the human side.”