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For Immediate Release March 03, 2017

At the February meeting of its Board of Directors, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health presented its Creating Healthier Communities Together Award to Gregory Couch, an 11-year old 5th grader at Bayside Elementary School in Stevensville.

The award was established by UM Shore Regional Health to recognize residents of the organization’s five-county service area who participate in realizing its mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together. The award recognizes individuals or groups who have made an outstanding contribution to improve the health and well-being of the communities within Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties through efforts including: raising awareness about a chronic disease or health-related issue; participation in a community service project and/or health-related program or service that provides the region with greater access to health care services.

Gregory, son of Paul and Kimberly Couch of Kent Island, was selected for the Creating Healthier Communities Together Award for his planning and execution of opening a chapter of Project Linus that covers Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. Through his newly opened chapter, Gregory donated handmade blankets to UM Shore Regional Health’s Shore Emergency Center in Queenstown and Shore Medical Center in Chestertown for young children who come in to medical facilities under harsh circumstances and in need comfort.

“Team members of our Chestertown and Queenstown locations are so grateful for the hard work and effort Gregory puts into helping some of our youngest  community members through Project Linus,” says Mary Alice Vanhoy, manager of the UM Shore Emergency Center at Queenstown and the Emergency Department at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. “We see many frightened children come through the doors of our emergency departments after unfortunate circumstances and these blankets offer a sense of comfort in times when they need it most.”

Project Linus is a non-profit organization represented by chapters covering all 50 states. Volunteers or “blanketeers” create blanket drives, make the blankets and then donate them to healthcare facilities. Gregory continues to collect and make blankets from various donations received through the community and plans to donate even more blankets to medical facilities in the counties his chapter covers. 

 “The leadership team and Board of Directors of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health were ecstatic to learn about the hard work and commitment Gregory has put behind advancing the wellbeing of patients and families at our medical facilities,” comments Ken Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health. “Gregory is a great example of how community partnerships can help Shore Regional Health continue to put patients first and achieve our mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.”

More information about Project Linus and volunteering with the mid-shore chapter may be obtained by visiting, or calling Kimberly Couch at 410 924-2488.

Gregory Couch of Kent Island (center) receives the Creating Healthier Communities Together Award from Kenneth Kozel, president and CEO, UM Shore Regional Health (left) and John Dillon, chairman, UM Shore Regional Health Board of Directors (right).