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Recognizing the Vital Work of Our Nation’s Public Servants

Posted on by Blog Administrator
Greg Burel receiving SAMMIE award.
Photo credit: Aaron Clamage/clamagephoto.com

In April 2015, an Ohio doctor made an urgent call to CDC concerning a possible life-threatening botulism outbreak that posed a risk to as many as 50 people who had attended a church potluck dinner.

Within hours, CDC, the Ohio Department of Health, and a local hospital had determined that botulism antitoxin was needed to treat the food-borne illness. They made an immediate request to the only U.S. source: CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

Greg Burel received the request just after 2 p.m. that day. He quickly issued his approval and set in motion a process that rapidly deployed and delivered botulism antitoxin to Ohio just after midnight to help save the lives of 18 people who had become seriously ill.

For Burel, this was all in a day’s work.

Burel serves as Director of the Division of Strategic National Stockpile at CDC, where he manages the federal government’s $7 billion Strategic National Stockpile of emergency medicines and medical supplies, which are stored in warehouses across the country.

In a public health emergency, the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain may be unable to immediately provide a medical countermeasure that may be required to prevent, mitigate, or treat adverse health effects resulting from an intentional, accidental, or naturally occurring public health emergency. SNS ensures the right medicines and supplies are available when and where they are needed to save lives.

And The Sammie Goes To…

In recognition of his exceptional leadership and unmatched excellence in the management of CDC’s SNS, Burel was the recipient of one of this year’s prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals―also known as the “Sammie” award―specifically in the Management Excellence category. In his decade-long tenure as Director of SNS, Burel has spearheaded 10 large-scale responses, including national responses to flooding, hurricanes, and influenza pandemics, and more than 30 small-scale deployments for the treatment of individuals with life-threatening infectious diseases including the botulism outbreak and the Ebola crisis.

Burel’s most recent challenge has been dealing with the Zika virus. In the wake of the Zika virus outbreak, SNS is working with diverse partners such as CDC Foundation, commercial pharmacies, and vector control companies to implement public health interventions that wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise and capability of SNS staff to bring it all together. “It’s more than just having the right product on the shelf and an established plan to use it,” Burel said. “We recognize the shifting realities of today’s public health threats and work with partners spanning the public and private spectrum to develop the capacity to respond to any public health emergency.”

Under Burel’s watch, the SNS has steadily expanded its focus so that it is capable of responding to all the global hazards of the 21st century. He says, “I am honored to receive the prestigious Sammie Award, and privileged to work alongside the many esteemed public servants who play an instrumental role in the stockpile’s daily operations.”

With more than 30 years of civil service, Burel has risen through the ranks of the federal government to become a proven leader in medical supply chain logistics, disaster and emergency management, financial management, quality improvement, and organizational design. He began his career at the Internal Revenue Service, and served in leadership roles in the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The “Oscars” of Government Service

Burel is one of many dedicated and hardworking federal employees across the world. The Sammie Award is an award program that publically highlights excellence in the federal workforce. The awards are also known as the “Oscars” of government service and honor those employees who have made the commitment to make our government and our nation stronger. They are named for the Partnership for Public Service’s late founder, Samuel J. Heyman, who was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963. These awards align with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people. The prestigious medals are awarded to a handful of federal employees each year for outstanding service to their country and humanity.

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