aring CFOR THE COMMUNITY SHAWN HINZ LEADS PUBLIC HEALTH THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS written by LINDA HALSTEAD-ACHARYA photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
is on a mission: to help the residents of Yellowstone County lead healthier lives. As deputy health officer and vice president of Public Health Services at RiverStone Health, Shawn oversees a dedicated staff of 80. They serve as school nurses, sanitarians, prevention health specialists and so much more. They provide guidance and information for good maternal practices, nutrition, smoking cessation, emergency preparedness and even HIV prevention. It’s a big umbrella, and Shawn is constantly impressed by her team. “Everybody has a different role,” she says. “It’s a great team to work with – we’re small enough to be nimble but big enough to implement programs we want and the community needs.” Speaking from her fourth-floor office in RiverStone’s Lil Anderson Building, Shawn looks out toward the city spread out beneath the Rims. She sees her role as improving the health of everyone within her view, in every direction. In any given year, she says, 180,000 people are affected by the work and programs at RiverStone.
substantive changes rather than flash-in-the-pan headlines. Her steady demeanor and her ability to communicate clearly have paid off over the long haul. Shawn has had her hands on countless programs: Better Babies, the Nurse Family Partnership, Healthy by Design and the new Off the Streets Shelter (see related story, pg. 32), to name a handful. She’s served on the incident command team during emergencies and she has sat at the table with numerous agencies — the YWCA, Montana Department of Corrections, Tumbleweed and the Mental Health Center. Yet, all of her roles share a common theme. She’s one among a coordinated team working to make a difference for the people of Yellowstone County, using programs to help with food, housing and everything a person needs for a basic existence. “If we’re working at the level of policy, systems and environment to meet those basic needs, we’re helping improve their health,” Shawn says.
“It is humbling work,” Shawn says. “If it’s true public health, we are prolonging people’s lives and that has such an impact on our community.”
Within RiverStone’s walls, Shawn takes pride in the team effort that earned national accreditation — and recently reaccreditation — for public health in Yellowstone County. As only the 44th in the nation to earn the recognition, “Montana stands out across the United States,” she says.
To achieve that goal takes time, and it’s an effort that can often go unrecognized. Shawn finds her reward in making slow,
The programs that helped meet the accreditation requirements are dear to Shawn’s heart. One, KidsFirst, assesses the health of