Delivery of Care

Dr. Honoris Causa

Dr. Peter Simon to receive lifetime achievement award for his work in public health

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Dr. Peter Simon will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Rhode Island Public Health Association.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 9/30/19
The public recognition of Dr. Peter Simon with a lifetime achievement award for his work in promoting public health in Rhode Island is well deserved.
How many legislators and elected officials would benefit from taking the Simon tour of Providence, something that Dr. Peter Simon has offered incoming medical and nursing students for a number of years? What kinds of ongoing conversations about public health are needed within Rhode Island to elevate the dialogue? When will the R.I. General Assembly invest in determining what the threat of lead poisoning is in Rhode Island’s drinking water?
Under the leadership of Sen. Jack Reed, the federal government has provided a total of $12.4 million to clean up lead paint in housing in Woonsocket and Pawtucket and Central Falls, coordinated with the Childhood Lead Action Project and Rhode Island Housing. It is an example of how government can continue to play a leadership role in improving public health outcomes in Rhode Island.;

PROVIDENCE – On Thursday, Oct. 17, at its annual meeting, the Rhode Island Public Health Association board of directors will present its 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Peter Simon, retired pediatrician and epidemiologist, for his significant contributions to advance the public’s health, recognized by his public health peers.

In announcing the award, the board of directors wrote: “Dr. Simon dedicated his career to promote public health. He was the visionary and policy maker that advanced innovative research, policy, and many public health initiatives that led to healthier environments and lifestyles in Rhode Island and nationally.”

The board of directors statement continued: “He designed the early lead screening summer door-to-door effort that led to the legislation and passed the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act in RI in 1991. He created strong partnerships between physicians and public health at a time when such collaborations were very new. He advocated for data sharing leading to policy at the local, regional and national level, and most importantly, he was a mentor, a friend, an advocate and potential partner always open to dialogue and sharing ideas that others could implement to benefit public health.”

Further, the board of directors wrote: “He was and still is a talented, fun and funny guy you can always count on for advice, whether you are a student, researcher, public health professional, doctor, or the next-door neighbor.”

Serendipity

I first met Dr. Peter Simon at a 2013 awards ceremony being held by the Childhood Lead Action Project, where both he and I were being honored.

In our initial conversation, Simon expressed interest in the new publication I had just launched a few weeks earlier, ConvergenceRI, and talked about how he had been prevented by the governor’s office from publishing a story about his interactions with parents who had discovered that their young child had been newly poisoned by lead.

I responded by saying that I would be happy to publish it. Simon questioned me: How are you going to do that? I responded: We’ll ask Dr. Michael Fine, who was then director of the R.I. Department of Health, for permission; Fine said sure. And so the story was published. [See link below to ConvergenceRI story, “What does a doctor say to parents of a toddler who has been found with elevated levels of lead.”]

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