Dr. Maria Braman earns Eastern Kentucky Leadership Award

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - During the past year, we have highlighted the heroes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic especially those battling the virus on the frontlines like healthcare workers.

Dr. Maria Braman is one of those. She was on the frontlines helping to ensure our communities stayed as healthy as possible.

“It was not a planned journey for me,” said Dr. Braman.

Before arriving at Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hazard, Dr. Braman specialized in breast cancer as a pathologist in Montana.

“I could serve more people administratively by changing the way things were done and improving things then I could behind the microscope one patient at a time,” she said.

She found her purpose in that administrative role.

“I’m very passionate about what I do. I’m passionate about being able to help improve health and wellness of people, especially in rural America.”

That passion for rural America led her to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.

“I really had no idea until I was there the disparities that can exist in access to quality healthcare when you were in areas that are more remote and there are less resources.”

Dr. Braman credits her mother, who is also a doctor, for instilling certain values in her at an early age.

“What she taught me is that live passionately. You know you give back. You give back to others that’s where you get reward. "

After serving the region for nearly five years, 2020 brought a whole new challenge...the pandemic.

“I believe it was February 24 right in this room where I started getting my team together and we started having daily meetings and I think by the end of the week we were almost constantly in meetings because things were evolving and changing,” she said.

But resiliency shined through the people on the frontlines.

“An incredible year in terms of the way you see people come together and give everything of themselves, but it’s also been hard-wrenching you know I think all of us know someone who has lost someone at this point if we haven’t lost people ourselves.”

Dr. Braman gives credit to the doctors and nurses that battled and continue to battle every day.

“My role was to try and make sure that they had all the resources they needed to keep them safe and to be able to care for the patients in the community as they needed us,” said Dr. Braman. “This award is for all community members, front line healthcare workers who have participated in ensuring that we take care of our people throughout this. "

As cases begin to decline, she looks at what is ahead.

“I’m excited to turn my eye on new exciting programs that we can again bring to rural America and do some exciting new things. "

Dr. Braman will continue to focus on that passion of serving the people with quality healthcare in rural America, particularly right here in the mountains.

Dr. Braman is a 2021 East Kentucky Leadership Award winner. The East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Awards are being held Thursday and Friday virtually.

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