Choptank Community Health receives William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award

Choptank Community Health System has been recognized for its leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic with the Comptroller of Maryland’s 2020 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Caroline County. Choptank Community Health received the recognition at a July 13 virtual presentation with Comptroller Peter Franchot.

The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations in each of the 23 counties and Baltimore City who best exemplify former Governor and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer’s unparalleled legacy of public service and selflessness, with awardees nominated by their peers.

Choptank Health served as Caroline County’s primary testing center and was cited for the award as a valued partner in the battle to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to provide quality, integrated health care for residents in need.

“Choptank Health is a critical piece of the health care system,” says Choptank Community Health CEO Sara Rich. “We collaborate with hospitals, local and state governments, social, health, and business organizations in all our operations to improve health outcomes for medically vulnerable people.

Rich says Choptank Community Health’s mission of providing access to health care for all is at the heart of the nonprofit’s recent testing and vaccination clinics, where COVID-19 testing and vaccines were brought into our underserved, most at-risk communities through partnerships with local health and emergency response departments and other organizations.

Choptank Health worked with the Caroline County emergency operations center to actively share information and track the initial spread of COVID-19. They were the region’s first health care provider to offer drive-up and curbside COVID-19 testing for Choptank Health patients, and worked in partnership with County government and Caroline County Public Schools to provide community mass testing sites.

Choptank Health’s vaccination and testing outreach expanded into the region’s most hesitant and hard-to-reach communities, including those served by the Avalon Theatre’s Multi-Cultural Festival and through clinics with Dorchester County’s migrant seafood processing workers. Its outreach also brought vaccinations to other communities through events including those at Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, and Building African-American Minds in Easton, among others.

“We are grateful to work with Caroline County and all our partners throughout the pandemic,” said Choptank Community Health CEO Sara Rich. “We helped the County to develop detailed policies and response plans for things such as community-wide testing and how to handle exposures in vital government services like

Corrections, law enforcement, and EMS. We also expedited the delivery of health and safety guidance to our business community without having to wait for information from the CDC or State Department of Health.”

“Choptank Community Health truly embodies the qualities of service the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award seeks to highlight,” said Caroline County Chief of Staff Sara Visintainer in her nomination of Choptank Health for the award. “The Choptank Health team dedicates every day to improving the communities in Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester Counties. They provide high quality, affordable health and dental care to all. This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations because Choptank Health provides health and dental services regardless of a person’s ability to pay.”

Visintainer also said Choptank Health has created exceptionally valuable public-private partnerships with county governments, health departments, and school systems on the Mid-Shore to help better serve our communities.

Other Eastern Shore award recipients include Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, St. Michaels Community Center’s Executive Director Emerita Trish Payne, Kent Center Chief Morale Officer Larry Wilson, Court Appointed Special Advocate and The Beauty of Being Black Founder Sharon Robinson, Crisfield Arts Syndicate’s Shawna Kearsley, Fenix Youth Project’s Amber Greene, and Jesse Klump Memorial Fund’s Kim Klump.

“These recipients have positively impacted the most vulnerable members of their communities by feeding the hungry, protecting our natural resources and redirecting children to healthier, more fulfilling lives, and so much more,” Comptroller Franchot said. “They are heroes dedicated to lifting up those who need a helping hand.”

Choptank Community Health is one of 17 health centers in Maryland serving more than 377,000 individuals, including those without insurance or an ability to pay. Health Centers serve more than 28 million people nationwide and provide affordable, high quality, comprehensive primary care to people from throughout the local communities, including those underserved and uninsured.

Choptank Community Health System provides medical, dental, pediatric, and behavioral health services in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot counties, with a vision is to improve the health and well-being of people in the communities served by providing outstanding care experiences while being an exceptional place to work and make a difference, with more at