Hospital News

Lori Russell named 2021 Maryland Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner



In late 2021, UPMC Western Maryland Palliative Care Nurse Coordinator Lori Russell was named the Maryland Rural Health Association 2021 Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner. MRHA is a non-profit organiz ation whose mission is to educate and advocate for the optimal health and wellness of rural communities and their residents.

Lori was nominated by her coworker and friend, physical therapist Jane Rossi. Jane and Lori have worked together since the late 1990s. “I have so much respect for Lori, and I thought she would be perfect for this award,” Jane said. “Her demeanor is calm, patient, caring, and compassionate. She brings with her this incredible wealth of expertise. Someone like Lori is needed when difficult conversations with families take place. She is willing to share her expertise with others, and she is a wonderful educator.”

Receiving news from Jane that she won the award was a welcome surprise. “I was so excited,” Lori said. “When I read what Jane wrote about me in the nomination, I just sobbed. I can’t thank her enough for her wonderful words.”

Lori hopes the award going to someone in the field of palliative care will help shine a light on the many services her team provides. “I think we make a big difference for people,” she said. “We are able to help our patients and their families live better lives. We let them know they are not alone.”

Palliative care is specialized care provided for someone with a serious life-limiting illness at any stage—not necessarily just at the end of life. It provides patients time to get a good idea of the process of the disease they have.

“Working with Lori is a great honor,” said Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, who pioneered UPMC Western Maryland’s palliative care department in the fall of 2019. “She has been such an amazing resource for her patients and their families. She has spent countless hours providing much needed support to others nearing end of life which is often very emotionally challenging. She does this with the utmost caring for every individual and does it with such humility.

“This award could not go to anyone more deserving, and I speak for everyone when I express immense gratitude for all the hard and meaningful work that she does for the people of the community, he said.”

“This award exemplifies Lori’s dedication to her field, and to her patients,” said Michele Martz, UPMC Western Maryland President. “Lori is a compassionate caregiver and a tireless advocate for the role of palliative and hospice care. She assists people to live their final days to the fullest, in peace, in the place they call home. UPMC Western Maryland is so fortunate to have Lori on our team caring for our local community.”

To view Jane presenting the award to Lori, visit: Awards ( and scroll ahead to the 6 minute mark.