Mary Winar
Manager of the Connecticut State Office of Rural Health

How did you get to where you are now?
I’m a nurse and worked in various health care settings, and I was looking for a different employment opportunity. I responded to an ad in the newspaper for a rural health assistant. I thought it sounded interesting, so I applied and got the job in July of 1999.

What are three (life or work) lessons you would like to share?
1. Be honest and sincere 2. Organization leads to efficiency 3. Stay focused, but be willing to adapt to change

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a SORH leader?
I read and research as much as I possibly can and ask questions if there is something I don’t know or understand. It’s important to learn from other people and to always be looking for resources and opportunities to share information.

What is the most important thing you are working on right now?
Promoting telehealth services in the state. Recent CT legislation will allow for telehealth services to be provided for Medicaid recipients. This provides an opportunity to create more awareness and potential to increase telehealth services in the state. Another priority is the opiate crisis, which is a tremendous strain on rural resources. I’m looking to support educational programs for rural providers. I sit on an Opiate Task Force that was created two years ago. The CT-ORH is assisting them with strategic planning and data collection to provide direction and substantiate the need for more resources and services.

What are some great things about rural health in your state?
Strong collaboration. Everybody learns to work together quite well because there are less resources. You’ll see so many partners working together on the same projects. We are a small state. You can get to one end of the state to the other in about 2 ½ hours. There are many great initiatives and trainings that occur with a very small amount of money. The office has funded very successful trainings for Narcan (Naloxone) community awareness and administration and SMART triage training for EMS providers. Another initiative was community CPR training for participants of a healthy heart program. Four rural volunteer EMS organizations conducted the trainings. EMTs who were training to be CPR instructors were utilized as part of their training experience. It was a great collaboration that benefited so many.

What do you do when you are not working?
I like to sew and love spending time with my family, especially my 29 month old grandson who lives about 2 ½ hours away in Wilton, NY.