A vice president of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) now has one more honor to add to her growing list of accolades.
Drema Hill, Ph.D., MSP, the school’s vice president for community engagement and development, was inducted into West Virginia Executive magazine’s Health Care Hall of Fame on Feb. 21 during a Charleston, W.Va., reception.
The magazine’s annual Health Care Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who go above and beyond in West Virginia’s health care industry and supporting industries. Inductees include doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, educators, researchers, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs.
Hill said she is grateful for the recognition — one that West Virginia Executive bestows on just 10 health care professionals each year.
“I appreciate this acknowledgment of my long career in public health,” she said. “This occasion has caused me to reflect on the past 42 years since I started in health care as a case aide. It has been an interesting learning experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other career. I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I love most.”
Hill has more than three decades of experience in public health leadership, including positions with the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, the Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Health Management Foundation and Comprehensive Care Center, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Health Office.
She joined WVSOM in 2016 and became one of the school’s seven vice presidents in 2019. Hill currently oversees the school’s Center for Rural and Community Health and is a consultant on issues regarding opioid settlement funds for the Office of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who attended the reception.
Hill serves on the boards of directors of the West Virginia Rural Health Association and the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute, and chairs the strategic planning committee of the American Public Health Association’s Health Administration Section.
Hill’s past honors include the Tennessee Neil Diehl Award for excellence in service to people living with HIV/AIDS and the West Virginia Rural Health Association’s Excellence in Rural Health Award. In 2021 she received the Small Communities, Big Solutions Advocate Award from the Alliance for Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and Coalfield Development.
In a profile of Hill on the occasion of her induction, West Virginia Executive wrote that she “has spent her career focused on serving marginalized populations, building small-community infrastructures that are inclusive, equitable and meet the needs of the people served.”
Hill, a native of rural Boone County, W.Va., said she finds fulfillment in establishing collaborative systems that allow communities to maximize their potential.
“My work at WVSOM is to build sustainable, quality programs that meet the needs of our community. I enjoy being the ‘connector,’ the catalyst that develops partnerships,” she said. “I have a passion for social justice, for meeting people where they are, for seeing people holistically. No matter what my role in health care has been, from pediatrics to family planning, from HIV/AIDS care to substance use disorder awareness, I’ve been able to use my education and skills to improve the world around me.”
Hill received a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State University, a Master of Public Service Management degree from Cumberland University and a Ph.D. degree in human services with a specialization in health care administration from Capella University. She said her work in improving the health of West Virginia’s communities began decades ago.
“During my early days in public health, I would go to high schools in West Virginia and speak about teen pregnancy prevention and reproductive health. In the 1990s, I volunteered for Sojourner’s, a domestic violence shelter to teach women how to seek and find jobs. During that time and into the 2000s, I worked the hotline at Patchwork, an emergency mental health crisis line,” Hill said.
James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, praised Hill for her efforts as a leader in community health.
“Dr. Hill’s contributions to health care in West Virginia have impacted the lives of many in our rural communities,” Nemitz said. “Her leadership of the WVSOM Center for Rural and Community Health to provide evidence-based, sustainable health care programming, coupled with her work to address community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid epidemic, are part of her legacy in the state.”
WVSOM-affiliated individuals inducted into the hall in past years include alumni Tom Takubo, D.O., Class of 1999, Christopher “Dino” Beckett, D.O., Class of 2000, and Catherine “Mindy” Chua, D.O., Class of 2001, as well as Craig Boisvert, D.O., FACOFP, who served as WVSOM’s vice president for academic affairs and dean for seven years.