CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has created a new award recognizing “outstanding commitment to public health leadership in Kanawha County.”

The “Dr. Rahul Gupta Outstanding Public Health Leadership Award” is named after current Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Dr. Rahul Gupta. One of Gupta’s past achievements is serving as the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Health Officer and Executive director.

This is a great opportunity for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to highlight our previous executive director and health officer, Dr. Rahul Gupta. It’s only fitting to acknowledge the start of his career with our health department and ultimately his service in state and federal roles,” said. Dr. Sherri Young, Health Officer and Executive Director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department.

The KCHD says the inaugural award will be posthumously bestowed to Mr. Paul Nusbaum. Nusbaum, former member of the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health and former Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, passed in February 2022 at the age of 71.

According to the KCHD, up to the time of his passing, Nusbaum had been an active and valued Board of Health member. His colleagues called Nusbaum’s knowledge and counsel “invaluable,” saying “he was a champion of all the efforts of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.”

“I find it fitting that the inaugural award be bestowed upon our late friend and fierce fighter, Paul Nusbaum,” said Jeremy Nelson, President of the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health.

The KCHD says the award will be presented to Nusbaum’s family at a later date.

Board of Health officials also say a plaque to commemorate each year’s awardee will hang in the KCHD lobby.

Gupta says he is humbled to have this award named in his honor.

“Leading the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I am grateful for the trust the people of Kanawha County, the City of Charleston and the state have placed in me,” said Gupta. “I am humbled to have this award named for public health leadership as I continue to be truly inspired by the folks who work tirelessly to protect the public’s health in the state and across the nation every single day.”