Springfield-Greene County Health Department News Releases

Posted on: April 7, 2017

April 7, 2017:Rogers,Bengsch honored at inaugural reception for Harold K. Bengsch Award


Community leaders from across the spectrum of public health gathered at Jordan Valley Community Health Center Friday to honor Dr. J. T. Rogers as the first-ever winner of the Harold K. Bengsch Award for Public Health Collaboration.

As a surprise, Bengsch was also awarded an honorary Bengsch Award in recognition of his significant public health legacy.

“When they told me what they were going to do, first I was astounded. And then I was humbled. And then I was speechless. It’s hard to say how you feel when something like this happens, other than very, very humbled,” Bengsch said.
Perhaps no single individual has had a bigger impact on public health in Greene County than Bengsch, who worked for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department for 45 years, serving as director for 21 years, before retiring in 2004. He lived SGCHD’s mission to Protect and improve community health through education, collaboration and prevention.
But in characteristic fashion, Bengsch spent little time talking about himself at the award reception, and instead thanked an audience full of public health advocates for their vital role in the health of our community. He then turned the well-deserved spotlight to his friend and colleague, Dr. Rogers.

“Dr. Rogers has never sought recognition that he so richly deserves. That’s what we can do with this award today,” Bengsch said.

Dr. Rogers reflected on a career marked by stubborn advocacy for public health and its importance for our community. He shared stories of convincing sometimes-doubtful businesses of the value and importance of flu vaccine. He remembered a time early in his practice when his patients could smoke in the clinic rooms before he’d use a stethoscope to listen to their breathing—and then of the struggle to ban smoking inside hospitals and eventually restaurants.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said.

The Health Department developed the Harold K. Bengsch Award this year to honor Bengsch—the department’s previous long-serving director of public health—and his unwavering belief in the value of collaboration and cross-sector approaches. The public health system works best when people across our community—healthcare professionals to community leaders and anyone in between—collaborate to improve the health of our population.

The Health Department could think of no better way to highlight the value of public health during National Public Health Week than to give an award named after Bengsch, one of public health’s most vocal supporters and advocates, to Rogers, a man who has been such a strong example of collaboration in our community.

The location itself was also chosen to further celebrate public health collaboration in our area. Jordan Valley Community Health Center arose and has thrived as a resource for underserved populations after a variety of community partners came together and recognized the need.