Rotary honors SPH’s Laura Miller, Derotha Ferraro

Hospital employees honored for work during COVID-19 pandemic.

Two South Peninsula Hospital employees were recognized last Thursday for their contributions to the health and well-being of Homer and the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

Derotha Ferraro, the hospital’s Public Information Officer, and Laura Miller, the hospital’s laboratory director, were honored by the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay as Paul Harris Fellows for their commitment to healthy communities.

The club’s president, Bernie Griffard, presented the awards.

“Derotha Ferraro’s tireless efforts to keep the community informed during this pandemic period ensured that the actual impact of COVID-19 was visible to everyone,” said Griffard during the brief outdoor ceremony at SPH. “Laura Miller, and her fantastic SPH laboratory team, made it possible for Rotary to provide a Health Fair to our communities.”

Paul Harris founded Rotary in 1905 in Chicago. Recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow “acknowledges individuals who contribute $1,000, or who have contributions made in their name, to The Rotary Foundation, which funds sustainable, life-changing projects that advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace by improving health, providing quality education, improving the environment, and alleviating poverty,” said Griffard.

The Paul Harris Fellow recognition represents a donation of $1,000 each to the Rotary Foundation in honor of Ferraro and Miller.

Ferraro has lived in Homer since 1993. She has been the director of public relations/public information officer for SPH for 15 years. During the COVID pandemic, she has participated in a weekly radio show on KBBI Public Radio; provided weekly newspaper updates; managed all communications for the hospital’s COVID response, including the web, Facebook, and presentations; been involved in community outreach related to COVID testing and vaccinations; served on the planning team for the community’s mass vaccination events (so far 15); served on the community-wide COVID communications team; and served as part of Homer’s Unified Command public information team.

Miller, who is currently working on a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alaska Anchorage, has served as the hospital’s lab director for the past 11 years. Prior to that, she worked in the lab for 24 years as a clinical laboratory scientist.

As lab director, Miller oversees the work of 10 phlebotomists and 14 clinical laboratory scientists. The lab staff is “the behind-the-scenes backbone of the free COVID-19 pandemic testing offered to the community over the past two years and the 38 years of the Rotary Health Fair. They are the true heroes of the laboratory,” wrote Miller, noting that one of her main roles is to provide the support they need to perform their duties unhindered.

The Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay sponsors the annual health fair in conjunction with South Peninsula Hospital. The centerpiece of the fair is low-cost blood draws, which begin in October. This year will be the 39th annual fair.