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By Michele Roberts
For The Lancaster News
Hard work, perseverance and effort are just a few words that describe Leanne Bailey.
Now, the Lancaster resident is garnering statewide accolades for her dedication to her job.
Bailey received the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Health Services Monthly Award of Excellence for February 2012.
Bailey is director of the Immunization division for the state Bureau of Disease Control.
“There are lots of other people I work with that are deserving of recognition,” Bailey said. “It takes a lot to keep this operation going. My job is very important to me, though; it means a lot to me to be able to do what I do. Anything concerning public health or the environment should always be handled with the utmost care.”
Bailey began her career with DHEC in 1985 as a staff nurse at the Lancaster County Health Department on Pageland Highway. She was hired 27 years ago by Miriam Cauthen, who recently retired.
Cauthen said it was immediately evident that Bailey was a natural leader.
“She surpassed any goals I set for her,” Cauthen said. “I didn’t have to push her up the ladder; she saw it was there and started climbing it. I did encourage her to move up whenever she could, and to take advantage of new opportunities.
“Any award she gets she absolutely deserves,” Cauthen said.
Bailey, who has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Medical University of Charleston and a master’s degree in public health, continued to move up in her responsibilities for DHEC in Lancaster.
Bailey became program nurse manager of Children’s Rehabilitative Services for Region 3, which includes Chester, Lancaster, York, Newberry, Lexington, Richland and Fairfield counties. After that, Bailey was named director of the DHEC Central Health Program for Children with Special Health Care Needs.
In January 2011, Bailey was named immunization division director.
Dr. Lisa Waddell, Bailey’s boss and deputy commissioner of DHEC, nominated her.
“Leanne faced remarkable challenges in taking over the immunization division almost one year ago,” Waddell said in a press release. “Ms. Bailey took on these challenges head-on, learning each program component just in time to deal with it strategically.
“With her unique input and leadership, immunization division has weathered the storms of declining funds, radically changing under rules, concerned provider partners and a controversial new regulation with great success. She fully deserves this recognition.”
But Bailey shies away from recognition and prefers to credit others for her department’s success.
“Immunizations are one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, and I am very lucky to be a part of such an achievement, one that is so vital to public health,” she said. “I’m also very lucky to have had wonderful mentors along the way, to help me reach the place I am in now.”