St. Mary’s County Health Department Programs Recognized Nationally as Promising Practices

July 19, 2023

Two St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) initiatives were recognized nationally as Promising Practices by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

NACCHO recognizes outstanding local public health practices, sharing them through a national database so other local health departments may replicate them in their communities. Program applications go through a rigorous peer-evaluation process to determine exemplary and replicable initiatives in response to local public health needs.

The two SMCHD initiatives recognized for their positive impact on our local community include:

  • The Role of School-Based Health Centers – Filling the Gaps in Local Healthcare 
  • Harm Reduction through a Health Equity Lens 

The primary goal of The Role of School-Based Health Centers initiative is to establish school-based health centers (SBHCs) in St. Mary’s County, improving access to health care in health professional shortage areas. SMCHD implemented SBHCs at Spring Ridge Middle School and Margaret Brent Middle School to increase access to care, decrease barriers to care, and improve health and wellness for students and employees within the St. Mary’s County Public School system as well as the general community.

The Harm Reduction through a Health Equity Lens initiative was implemented in response to rising drug overdose numbers and opioid-related emergency department visits in St. Mary’s County. The Harm Reduction program provides services including syringe exchange, Hepatitis C and HIV screenings, Narcan training and distribution, Hepatitis C and Buprenorphine treatment through a partnership with Johns Hopkins, peer recovery services, care coordination, and linkage to other services offered at SMCHD’s Health Hub.

“It is an honor to have our programs recognized nationally and included in a national database assisting health departments across the country,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “I’m so very proud of the dedicated professionals at our health department who work tirelessly with our partners to improve health and wellness in our community. Promising Practices are exciting approaches to local public health issues, and our team is glad to have our programs highlighted through NACCHO.”

To learn more about SMCHD and its programs, visit

To learn more about NACCHO and its mission, visit