Assistant Public Health Director Connie Mele has received the Jim Edmundson Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Studies (NCFADS). Each year the foundation honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the fields of professional alcohol and drug prevention, treatment, counseling over the span of their career.
Having worked in Community Health since 1979, with a concentration in Behavioral Health, Mele has been focused on improving the quality of care for persons with mental disorders and substance use. She has held various positions over the years, and in 2015, became an assistant health director for the County.
Among Mele’s many achievements, are her success in obtaining a $1.5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to implement a co-occurring Assertive Community Treatment Team program and serving as a partner in developing a SAMHSA grant for jail diversion veterans who have PTSD and/or TBI. She also brought community stakeholders together to develop a jail diversion program for people with behavioral health problems and was able to obtain $900,000 in recurring funding for the program. When this program was implemented in 2008, the jail census averaged over 2,800 inmates daily and through a number of initiatives, including this one, it now averages 1,400.
In July 2015, Mele was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson fellowship for Senior Public Health Nurses to address the culture of health for communities and nurses. This fellowship allows her to work with the Action Coalition of the Future of Nursing Initiative.
At the request of the North Carolina Governor’s Institute, she’s currently working on developing a curriculum on how to deal effectively with the addicted patient to be offered in all nursing schools.
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