By Jensen, Randy on October 29, 2020.
The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association (ULAA) has named Cheryl Andres (BN ’87) as its 2020 Alumna of the Year.
“Cheryl’s legacy has left its mark on the way health care is approached province-wide, and we are thrilled to acknowledge and celebrate her lasting impact,” says Jason Elliott, president of the ULAA, in a news release. “In a time where so many of us are faced with uncertainty, it’s powerful to know that there are leaders like Cheryl fighting for public health and well-being. She is an exemplar of the great work our alumni community can achieve and the lasting contributions that they can have.”
In a career spanning more than three decades, Andres has established herself as a visionary and leader in the health-care sector. As the Director of Chronic Disease Management and Public & Primary Health Care with Alberta Health Services in the South Zone, Andres manages health programs, teams and supports for the region.
Her efforts have revolutionized the way health care is imagined and made a substantial impact on the lives of many. She notably led the integration of chronic disease programming in southern Alberta based on her vision that many of the elements of education, support and messaging were similar across multiple chronic conditions. She took the lead in applying for an ultimately successful $2.4-million grant from Alberta Health that led to the formation of the Chronic Disease Network – a system of greater consistency, effectiveness and clarity for the community she serves.
The system improved care, reduced duplication in services, enabled smoother transitions for patients throughout the network and served as a model for the rest of the province. Her evidence-informed approach to system reform positions interdisciplinary teams of health-care providers for success and amply meets the needs of those facing chronic health conditions.
From leading the development of the South Zone Opioid and Harm Reduction Co-ordinated Response Team to the implementation of the South Zone Primary Care Network Community Service integration plan, Andres leads with compassion and integrity, the ULAA said in the release. This has remained true in her recent efforts to tackle challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working closely with provincial health officials, Andres has managed response efforts within the South Zone and actively worked to mitigate further spread of the disease. She has supported her teams as they test, contact trace and assuage anxieties surrounding the pandemic. Her guidance during this time of uncertainty is an invaluable asset to the region, and a testament to the impact nurses can have on the community.
Andres’ mentorship and leadership extend far beyond her patients and colleagues. A founding member of the Lethbridge Legacy of Nursing Committee, Andres and local RNs have raised thousands of dollars in funds for U of L graduate nursing scholarships over the last five years. As future nursing students embark on their journeys through the nursing program, Andres’ impressive legacy will undoubtedly light their way.