Highlands Community Development Director Receives Award from the Kentucky Department for Public Health

December 18, 2018
Prestonsburg, KY – Danielle Franklin Harmon, Director of Community Development at Highlands Health System, was awarded the “Public Health Community Collaboration and Engagement Award” at the Maternal and Child Health Conference held at the Marriott Griffin Gate in Lexington, Kentucky. Mrs. Harmon, along with two other founding members of the Big Sandy Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Prevention Coalition Stacy Crum and Jennifer Wilson, was recognized for outstanding community collaboration and engagement that betters the lives of Kentucky mothers and babies. Specifically, the group was recognized for their work in creating the NAS Coalition. The NAS Coalition provides community outreach and education about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and assisted in the formation of the Department of Public Health’s new HEART Program that is being piloted in Floyd County. 
NAS occurs when a mother is addicted to drugs during pregnancy and the infant exhibits symptoms of withdrawal after birth. The effects of NAS are often long lasting and some symptoms include tremors, inability to eat or gain weight, respiratory issues, and gastrointestinal problems. The Big Sandy Region has three times the state average of infants born dependent on opioids.
Through her research into NAS, Mrs. Harmon encouraged Highlands to take a significant role in our community toward education, support for at-risk mothers, community partnerships, and family planning to meet the Big Sandy NAS Prevention Coalition’s mission. The work of the Big Sandy NAS Prevention Coalition has also been brought to the attention of the USDA Office of Rural Development and has been showcased at the SOAR Summit. The Big Sandy NAS Prevention Coalition’s mission is to lower the percentage of children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Since their inception two years ago, the founding members have educated 900+ high school students, held focus groups with NAS mothers, hosted provider education events, and have grown their Coalition to 30+ community members. 
“Our coalition believes that breaking down the stigma associated with NAS and opioid dependency in mothers will help the whole community begin to recover,” said Harmon. “We’ve worked to educate as many people we can about this epidemic, so it is nice for our hard work to be recognized.”