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Charles Grim Named Health Leader of the Year by Commissioned Officers Association

The Commissioned Officers Association of the United States Public Health Service has selected former Indian Health Service Director Charles W. Grim, a rear admiral in the Public Health Service, as the COA’s 2008 Health Leader of the Year. Rear Adm. Grim was cited for extraordinary accomplishments as IHS director from 2003 to 2007, and for his lifetime commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native health improvement and the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

Rear Adm. Grim, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, was recognized for his strong focus on preventive health care while serving as the IHS director. He began special initiatives in health promotion/disease prevention, chronic care, and behavioral health that were directed at reducing health disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native people through a systematic approach to preventive health.

Rear Adm. Grim also worked intently for ensuring a steady budget for American Indian and Alaska Native health care during a time of fiscal constraint, as well as leading the IHS in restructuring its approach to performance management.

In addition, Rear Adm. Grim formalized beneficial health care improvement partnerships between the IHS and renowned entities such as the Mayo Clinic, Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University, as well as establishing working relationships on indigenous health issues with Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the Pan American Health Organization.

“Dr. Grim is an outstanding leader, one who is extremely deserving of this award,” said Robert G. McSwain, current IHS director. “Throughout his career, he has remained steadfastly devoted to raising the health status of American Indian and Alaska Native people.”

Before his nomination as IHS director, Rear Adm. Grim held various positions in the field, including serving as area director of the Oklahoma City Area Indian Health Service. Rear Adm. Grim graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry and was commissioned as a Public Health Service officer in 1983. He subsequently obtained a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

The IHS is the primary source of health care services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. As director, Rear Adm. Grim was the senior officer in command of over 2,100 commissioned officers and was responsible for the provision of a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 1.9 million of the nation’s estimated 3.3 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.