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June 27, 2024 (Cleveland, OH)

The Center for Health Affairs Hosts NEO Healthcare Coalition Annual Conference

The Northeast Ohio Healthcare Coalition (HCC) annual conference on June 7 featured an agenda packed with speakers, ranging from local to national organizations, and included awards presented to five Northeast Ohio individuals who have made important contributions to the region.


Free of cost for attendees and supported with grant funding as part of The Center’s emergency preparedness programming, this year’s event was once again held at Lakeland Community College.

The full day of programming included an incredible roster of professionals from the Lorain County Emergency Management Agency, Case Western Reserve University/Public Safety, Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response (ASPR), and the Ashtabula County Department of Developmental Disabilities.


“This year’s conference provided attendees with the opportunity to network, learn, and hear from professionals who are subject matter experts in their fields,” said Christina Fozio, emergency preparedness program manager for The Center for Health Affairs. "This year we focused on topics not often discussed in our regional planning efforts. Participant feedback was phenomenal."


This year’s sessions included:

  • Reducing the Stigma of Mental and Emotional Health Issues – presented by Dave Freeman, Director, Emergency Management Agency & Homeland Security, Lorain County.
  • Effective Engagement with the Muslim and Arab-American Population – presented by Police Sergeant Sarah Shendy, Case Western Reserve University/Public Safety.
  • Hospital and Healthcare Cybersecurity – presented by Commander TJ Christl, director of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection, Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.
  • Encountering Individuals with Developmental Disabilities – presented by James Kemmerle, Investigative Agent, of the Investigative Services & Support Department for Ashtabula County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The conference included the presentation of awards, given in recognition of Northeast Ohio Healthcare Coalition members who have made a significant and lasting impact on the field and practice of emergency preparedness or emergency management. The recipients were honored both for their contributions to the emergency preparedness program within their agency and for their efforts to engage the community to improve preparedness.


Presented by Vince Gildone, Administrator for the Northwest Ambulance District, this year’s awards honored:

  • Bruce Elliott, Chief of Fire, Mayfield Heights Fire Department
  • Shawn Gruber, Fire Chief, Ashtabula Fire Department
  • Janine Trottier, Preparedness Coordinator, Lorain County Public Health
  • Tara Vargovich, Emergency Management Coordinator, The MetroHealth System
  • Colin Johnson, Senior Specialist, Emergency Preparedness, The Center for Health Affairs

About the Northeast Ohio Healthcare Coalition

Spanning Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties, the Northeast Ohio Healthcare Coalition brings diverse healthcare organizations together to respond and coordinate efforts before, during, and after emergencies. The NEO HCC collaborates with stakeholders to ensure the community has the necessary medical equipment and supplies, real-time information, communication systems, and trained personnel to respond to an emergency.


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