Gifts can be made in many ways. The gift of time, the gift of talents and the gift of money. Highlands Regional Medical Center appreciates the many ways our community supports us through our volunteers, by attending events and supporting the Foundation. Thank you!


Highlands Health System formed a non-profit corporation, Highlands Foundation, Inc., to provide expanded healthcare services for the people of our area. Many of the programs and services available at Highlands Health System and Highlands Regional Medical Center (HRMC) would not be available without the generous support of our community members. Because healthcare is critical to the fabric of any area, supporting the work of Highlands strengthens the entire region. Give now.

About the Executive Director

C. Denise Lipford holds the position of Executive Director of The Highlands Foundation.

About the Executive Director Details

C. Denise Lipford holds the position of Executive Director of The Highlands Foundation.

Ms. Lipford holds a BBA in Finance from the University of Kentucky, Gatton College of Business and maintained her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) accreditation from 2004 through 2007, as endorsed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Her fundraising experience includes positions within Midway Renaissance, Inc., Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, and The Nature Conservancy. This is in addition to previous roles in banking at Citizens National Bank and Chase Financial Services.

With a mission to cultivate and maximize the philanthropic potential of the service area, Highlands Foundation, Inc. exists to garner funding paramount to the prevailing health, wellness and community based needs of this region.

Many of the programs and services available at Highlands Health System and Highlands Regional Medical Center (HRMC) would not be available without the generous support of our community members and the work of the Foundation. Because healthcare is critical to the fabric of any area, supporting the work of Highlands strengthens the entire region.

Ms. Lipford encourages gift and volunteer participation from all who are able. Keep in mind charitable gifts supporting the Foundation are often fully tax deductible. Furthermore, these gifts directly impact community outreach programs, the Center for Autism, and crucial medical technologies. Without these programs, you, your family, friends and neighbors could face a harsh reality that critical healthcare may require travel too distant to truly serve.

You can contact Denise by email at or (606) 889-6271.

The more you get involved, the more you and our community benefit.

The Purpose

Highlands Foundation works to support many organizations throughout Eastern Kentucky

The Purpose Details

The purpose of the Highlands Foundation is to support the nonprofit entities of Highlands Health System and other nonprofit community groups that promote community wellness and fund opportunities that improve the accessibility of healthcare for the people of the Big Sandy Area.

Highlands Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Highlands Health System, works to support many organizations throughout Eastern Kentucky. One of those organizations is the Highlands Center for Autism, the first center-based program in Kentucky exclusively using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a clinical setting. ABA is a science that uses behavioral techniques to teach children basic and complex skills. It works by reinforcing appropriate behavior while decreasing or eliminating challenging behavior.

About the Foundation

The Highlands Foundation provides expanded healthcare services for the people of our area.

About the Foundation Details

he Highlands Foundation works to promote philanthropic support of Highlands Health System and provide support to other charitable entities in eastern Kentucky. The purpose is to promote healthcare and establish programs for community education and wellness. The surrounding communities have been supporting the hospital since it opened in 1973. Throughout the years, Highlands Health System and HRMC's role in improving the health of area residents has been evident in the work they do - saving lives, providing diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and in preventing diseases and injuries.

As a non-profit community hospital, HRMC provides healthcare services to all regardless of a patient's ability to pay. Highlands Foundation works to help the hospital fund new technology, community outreach programs, support groups and capital building projects to improve and expand inpatient and outpatient services for residents in the communities they serve.

By working together, Highlands Foundation and people in eastern Kentucky can accomplish new health care goals by providing new services, bringing new specialists to the area to make a real difference in the level of healthcare available for our families.

Donations to Highlands Foundation are tax deductible and your contribution, no matter how large or small, will stay in your community and make a difference in improving healthcare services for you and your family. To learn more about Highlands Foundation call (606) 889-6271.

Ways to Give Today

Donors may choose to make significant gifts to the campaign in a variety of ways.

Ways to Give Today Details

Pledges: Give a gift in support of the campaign over the course of three to five years on a payment schedule of your design. The benefits of a pledge are numerous for both donor and the Foundation.

When payments are stretched out over the course of several months or years, people find it easier to make larger gifts. Pledging also allows the donor to determine a schedule for making payments. The Foundation benefits by knowing it has a solid, predictable base of support.

Online: You can make an online donation directly to the Highlands Foundation through our safe and secure system. It's easy, fast and keeps all of your personal information private, while allowing you to donate to the event or campaign of your choice.

Cash (Check): Every dollar you give to the Highlands Foundation campaign is tax-deductible up to the maximum of 50% of your adjusted gross income. Any amount given in excess of this limitation can be carried over and deducted for up to five subsequent years.

Matching Gifts: Many corporations recognize the support of a nonprofit organization by an employee or other eligible individual. If your business fits this category, the Foundation will award campaign credit to you for both your gift and its match. Matching gifts are usually equal to the donor's gift, although some corporations match on a two-to-one ratio. Usually, the donor must obtain the company's matching gift form and send it with the gift to the recipient.

Gifts of Appreciated Stocks and Bonds: If you have marketable securities that have grown substantially in value, the tax laws make it possible for you to make an important gift at remarkably low after-tax cost. To make direct gifts to the Foundation and gain significant tax advantages, notify your broker or custodian banker that you intend to make a gift to the Highlands Foundation campaign. Gifts of securities will be credited at their mean market value on the date of delivery to the Foundation.

Closely Held Stock: Contribution of shares of stock in a closely held corporation allows the owner to avoid having the gift recognized in the form of dividends for taxing purposes. Even though the corporation makes the contribution, the individual is entitled to a charitable tax deduction in relation to the percent of their ownership in the business.

Personal Property: "Hidden assets," such as antiques, paintings, jewelry, and other collectibles, may be valuable assets that you no longer feel the need to retain and that can be donated with tax advantage.

Life Insurance: Another common "hidden asset" for giving is a life insurance policy that is no longer needed for its original purpose. The cash value of the policy is immediately available for tax-deduction purposes.

Real Estate: Donated real estate may include vacation homes, farms, second homes, inherited or unneeded property, acreage, or lots. This type of donation allows the donor to avoid capital gains tax on profit and receive a full fair-market value charitable deduction, up to thirty percent (30%) of adjusted gross income, with a five-year carry-over provision and no capital gains tax on the property appreciation. Gifts of real estate will be credited at their appraised value at the time the gift is made. The Foundation reserves the right either to accept or reject any offer of real estate.

Planned Giving

Planned or deferred gifts made to Highlands Foundation are invaluable contributions to the accomplishment of its long-term goals.

Planned Giving Details

Bequests: Provide meaningful and substantial support by a provision in your will for Highlands Foundation while retaining full use of the gift during your lifetime. Bequests may be a lump sum, a percentage of your estate, what's left in an estate after all other obligations are met, or a particular item, piece of real estate, or other property.

Life Insurance: Receive immediate and long-range income estate tax benefits by naming Highlands Foundation as the irrevocable beneficiary and owner of a life insurance policy. If you elect to do so, you may continue paying what become tax-deductible premiums. The full value of the policy, with no reduction for estate tax, will come to the Foundation for the benefit of future generations served by Highlands Regional Medical Center. Because of the complexity of insurance policy gifts, donors are encouraged to consult IRS rules, their own tax advisors, and the Foundation.

Charitable Lead Trusts: To transfer wealth in a tax-advantaged manner, create a trust that produces income payable to Highlands Foundation. After what is usually a ten-year term, the trust assets are then passed to your family or to other beneficiaries of your designation.

Charitable Remainder Trust: Create a trust in which you place money or property with instructions to pay you or another person income, in most cases for life. The income will be a set percentage of the trust's value. When you or the person receiving the income passes on, the remainder of the trust passes to the Foundation.

Living Trust: Maintain ownership of your assets during your lifetime or make a provision to distribute them to Highlands Foundation after your death. If you wish, the Foundation benefit can be deferred while lifetime benefits are paid to a spouse or another designated beneficiary.

Gift Annuity: You can make a gift for the future benefit of Highlands Foundation and retain fixed lifetime annuity payments for yourself or other beneficiaries. After the death of the last beneficiary, the principal goes to the Foundation.

Life Estate: Transfer property to Highlands Foundation even as you retain your rights of use or income privileges. The property passes to the Foundation after the death of the last beneficiary.

Acknowledging Your Gifts

In accordance with your wishes and donation amount, we will acknowledge your donation in one of several ways.

Acknowledging Your Gifts Details

Your gift to the Highlands Foundation Changing Lives Funding Project will help us raise $850,000 to insure individual scholarships and help create an endowment for future scholarships. We ask that you help us create this legacy so that present and future children will have the facility and services designed for their needs. We gratefully acknowledge your support, which both reinforces the success of today’s Funding Project and opens possibilities for future projects. In accordance with your wishes and donation amount, we will acknowledge your donation in one of several ways.

The Highlands Foundation recognizes the generosity of Funding Project donors in the community at large. The Foundation names its donors, without listing amounts, in “thank-you” advertisements or releases. The announcement of funding project gifts also encourages others to participate in community efforts by acknowledging generous and widespread support.

The Foundation awards permanent recognition to donors whose funding project gifts are $500 or more. Donor names are displayed prominently in a central, high-traffic area within the Foundation Office in accordance with the following schedule:

  • Pace-Setting gifts $ 25,000+
  • Advance gifts $ 15,000+
  • Major gifts $ 5,000+
  • Primary gifts $ 1,000+
  • Community gifts $ 500+

The Highlands Foundation encourages donors to choose an appropriate form of recognition so that we may show our sincere gratitude for Funding Project contributions. We respect and honor the wishes of those who choose to remain anonymous.

Contact the Foundation

Contact the Highlands Foundation.

Contact the Foundation Details

Highlands Foundation

5000 KY Rt. 321
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
(606) 889-6271


Volunteerism has been alive and well at Highlands since the opening of the Hospital more than 40 years ago.

Currently, the Highlands Regional Medical Center Auxiliary has over 40 members.

If you would like to join the Highlands Regional Medical Center Auxiliary in supporting this worthwhile project, please contact the Foundation at (606) 889-6271 or complete the form below.



Autism Funding

Highlands Center for Autism is located on the first floor in a facility adjacent to the Highlands Regional Medical Center campus. The Center operates as a year-round treatment facility that accepts children from earliest diagnosis through school age.

Program Overview

Highlands Center for Autism Funding Project program overview.

Program Overview Details

The program has a low child to staff ratio (virtually 1:1) and each child’s program is tailored to their needs.

Professionals involved in the child's treatment include behavior analysts, educators, clinical psychologists, speech/language pathologists, and registered behavior technicians. Consultations with pediatrics, nursing, and psychiatry is also important. Parents are encouraged to observe programming, attend seminars about ABA, work with their children at home, and participate in meetings regarding their child’s treatment.

The program’s ultimate goal is to transition children into less intensive setting / services as they progress.

Treatment Works

Research clearly indicates that ABA is the treatment of choice for individuals with autism.

Treatment Works Details

Research clearly indicates that ABA is the treatment of choice for individuals with autism. Unfortunately, this help is often unavailable to families, either due to its cost or the “know-how” required to teach it. This has forced families to move to areas of the country where ABA is available, settle for treatment that is not proven effective, or receive no treatment at all.

After a meeting with the families, Highlands researched the need on a local, state, and regional level. It was discovered that a high quality, research-based program, specific to the needs of children with autism, did not exist anywhere in Kentucky or in the surrounding regions. This prompted Highlands to take action!

In its search to help families, Highlands Health System learned that the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism, a division of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, offered done of the most prestigious treatment programs in the country. After a group of representatives visited the Clinic in the summer of 2008, Highlands Health System started to develop a similar program in Prestonsburg.

A community meeting was held to test the idea of bringing services like those in Cleveland to a facility in Prestonsburg. Over seventy people attended and voiced their support to create the Highlands Center for Autism. People in attendance included parents of children diagnosed with autism, representatives from local school systems, health departments, mental health agencies, the vocational education center, social service agencies, and government officials. This support led Highlands to enter into a consulting agreement with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism to work toward the goal of “mirroring” Cleveland’s program in Prestonsburg.

A Great Need

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) .

A Great Need Details

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM). There are currently 24,000 Kentuckians with an ASD. Autism does not recognize socio-economic or religious barriers and the rate of autism is consistent throughout the world. Autism affects a child’s communication, socialization, and behavior.

A child with Autism typically:

  • Has poor eye contact
  • Resists affection such as holding and cuddling
  • Is unaware of the feelings of others
  • Has delayed speech or no speech at all
  • Loses once acquired ability to say words or sentences
  • Does not respond to his or her name
  • Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
  • Develops specific routines or rituals
  • May be captivated by parts of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car or the blades of a ceiling fan
  • May experience sensitivity to touch, light, or sound and yet be unaware of pain

The clinical diagnosis of autism is complex; assessment should be conducted by medical professionals with appropriate qualifications and training. These resources are difficult to locate and some parents are forced to wait up to a year or more for an evaluation. Once a child has been diagnosed with autism, parents must face the devastation of the diagnosis, the emotional pain, and the frustration and uncertainty of “what to do next.”

Research indicates that children who receive early, intense (25-40 hrs a week) behavioral intervention make significant progress in their communication, socialization, and behavior. The best outcomes have been reported for children who start treatment before age 5 and optimally, by age 3.

Autism Story

Sam & Mandy's Story

Autism Story Details

They now had it all – young, just starting out, and a new baby boy – a lot of work, but life was good!

We must tell you about them. A local couple, we will call them Sam and Mandy, got married out of high school and wanted the American dream – a house, good jobs, and a family. Sam went to work in the coal mines during the same month that Mandy found out she was pregnant with their first child. They had struggles, but it was all worth it when their baby boy Kyle arrived.

Kyle was a healthy, happy baby – the bond was unbreakable – he was his father’s “little buddy” and his mom’s “handsome man.”

However, life for this family drastically changed when they noticed that Kyle’s speech stopped and he no longer looked them in the eye. All he wanted to do was rock and stare into space. They went in search of help.

Doctor after doctor – time off work – travel expenses - the next year was very difficult. Just to get Kyle evaluated was not only a waiting game, but it was expensive!

Sam could not get off work the day that the doctor finally told Mandy that her beloved son was a child with autism. What were they going to do now? Sam and Mandy wanted the best for Kyle. Mandy researched a proven method for the treatment of autism called Applied Behavior Analysis. However, they found no programs locally that could help their son. They could not afford to relocate to another area for the treatment that their son needed and deserved.

Sam just wanted to play catch with his son in the backyard, but instead Kyle wanted to watch the ceiling fan go round and round for hours.

Mandy just wanted him to stop banging his head against the wall over and over.

Why could they not toilet train him? Why could they not control his tantrums? Why did he bite and scratch the family? Why did he not notice when Sam and Mandy cried? Their little boy was a child with autism.

They now piece together services in hopes that Kyle can progress. They fear they are missing his critical developmental years due to a lack of programs closer to home and financial constraints.

We’ve Heard this Story Before.

Sam and Mandy’s story is unfortunately similar to many families in our area. Parents are faced with the devastating news that their child is a child with autism and the needed services to help them are not available in Kentucky.

In the spring of 2008, the leadership of Highlands Health System was approached by several families from local communities seeking Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a proven evidence based treatment for their children diagnosed with autism. ABA is based on decades of solid scientific research, and has shown great results in helping children and adults with autism develop important life skills, successful integration back into public schools, improved IQ scores, and the best opportunity at a greater quality of life. These families could not get this treatment in and around the state of Kentucky.