The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Child Health Recognition Awards program honors local health departments, public health staff and individuals for innovative, collaborative programs that improve the lives of North Carolina’s children. The Foundation works with the North Carolina Public Health Association (NCPHA) to coordinate the program, and all nominees and award recipients are recognized at a luncheon at NCPHA’s annual meeting. Recognition awards are presented in four categories: Lifetime Achievement, Individual, Local Health Departments and Public Health Staff. The awards include grants and scholarships that promote public health study and programs that benefit children. Up to three health departments and three to five individuals are honored annually.

Nominations are due by May 31st each year.

Public health professionals know that providing care and services for families and children can be done in many different ways and many different places. Sometimes, children come to clinics for health services; other times, services come to them in the form of mobile dental clinics and health fairs or through school nurse programs. Mothers of autistic children meet for lunch to support each other through challenges, while elsewhere new mothers meet with supportive coaches who teach them to breastfeed their babies. And the health "clinic" may not be inside at all but in the open air, with children tending school and community gardens to learn about nutrition and combat obesity with fresh vegetables and fruit.

While health care can be delivered in many different ways, North Carolina's health care providers have these traits in common: passion, dedication and commitment to the children and families they serve. The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation salutes all public health professionals in our state who work harder every year to deliver more services in times of great need and tight budgets. We applaud their creativity and innovation and are honored to present the 2017 Child Health Recognition Awards.

The 2017 awards were presented on September 27, 2017 at the NCPHA annual meeting.

2017 Child Health Award Recipients:

Elizabeth Krzysztoforska, DDS, Lifetime Achievement Recognition Award
Elizabeth Krzysztoforska, DDS, also known as Dr. K., has spent her professional career giving back in appreciation for the opportunities given her when she moved to the United States from Poland many years ago. She established the Children’s Dental Health Center to serve children with little or no access to dental care in Alamance County, she has been recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Recognition Award in the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s 2017 Child Health Recognition Awards program.

The Children’s Dental Health Center is unusual in that it is a self-sustaining public health dental clinic. At the center, Dr. K. has focused on three areas of evidence-based preventive strategies: dental sealants, fluoride varnishes and nutritional counseling. She works with children as young as 1 year old, with a heavy emphasis on parent education and fluoride applications. She believes in establishing a long-term dental home for public health patients, and now children who were served by the clinic are bringing their own children in for dental care!

Sarcanda Green, RN, Individual Recognition Award
Sarcanda Green, RN, has been with the Wilkes County Health Department for 25 years, and is a key factor in helping generations of students to be healthier and more academically successful. Her attention to detail makes her shine as the Mobile Expanded School Health (MESH) coordinator, and earned her the Individual Recognition Award in the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s 2017 Child Health Recognition Awards program.

The MESH program serves about 1,100 students during the school year with sick and preventive care provided at school. MESH offers a wide range of services, including treatment of injuries, immunizations, health education and counseling, health screenings and prescriptions. Nurse Green coordinates sports physicals so students have an opportunity to play sports. Because the students trust her, she is able to serve as a lifeline to students who need health care. Her colleagues call her a true example of a dedicated public health nurse.

Debbie Biggerstaff, Public Health Staff Recognition Award
Debbie Biggerstaff is called “the quiet wonder woman” by her colleagues in Cabarrus County. She encompasses the qualities every health department wants and needs: she is loyal, hardworking and passionate about changing the lives of youth. Her leadership of the Innovative Approaches program has given a voice to families with children with special health care needs and has brought needed community partners to the table to listen. It also has earned her the Public Health Staff Recognition Award in the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s 2017 Child Health Recognition Awards program.

Among her many accomplishments, Biggerstaff developed the annual Family Resource CAFÉ conference to educate families about resources, services and navigation; led the Mental Health Navigator training; provided education to families and Emergency First Responders regarding the tools and resources needed for families with children with special health care needs, and developed the Latino Parent Advisory Council. Because she is so well respected in her field, she was asked to write guidelines for other Innovative Approaches Projects for replication across the state.

Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services
Substance Treatment And Rehabilitation Program (STAR)

In the United States, an infant is born with signs of drug withdrawal every hour. The impact of maternal drug use causes a wide range of short- and long-term effects like low birth weight, congenital anomalies and growth and behavioral problems. To combat this, the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services launched the Substance Treatment and Rehabilitation Program (STAR) in February 2016 to provide drug treatment and supportive counseling to pregnant women. STAR saw positive outcomes within its first year, not only among the women and children served by the program, but also through the agency’s convening of stakeholders and partners around this issue. In addition, other counties in North Carolina are replicating STAR. This program is a shining example of how innovation and collaboration can drive substantial and sustainable change in a community, and make a tremendous difference in the lives of women and their babies.

Guilford County Department of Health & Human Services
Focused specifically on teens, the JustTEENS clinic offers private, confidential, friendly, free or low-cost services set up to support teen needs. In addition to physicals, immunizations, pregnancy tests and infection screenings, the clinic also offers counseling services. The clinic, using evidence-based practices, reported seeing 926 unduplicated teens in the first year, up from 225 at the Wendover site the prior year. The clinic’s success and grant funding allowed a new clinic to open in May 2017 in an area where the highest teen pregnancy rate occurs. The JustTEENS initiative has been successful because of the diligent work by the public health staff as they offer services where they are needed and in a teen friendly environment.

Madison County Health Department
Madison Substance Awareness Coalition
Like many communities, Madison County has seen an increase in substance abuse among teens and adults ranging from tobacco use to prescription drugs to illegal street drugs. In 2014, the Madison County Health Department used a state grant to form the Madison Substance Awareness Coalition (MSAC). In less than 3 years, MSAC has successfully implemented both environmental and individual strategies to help raise awareness around substance related issues. By engaging youth through educational classes, assemblies, community events and student led projects, MSAC continues to spread the word about the dangers of prescription medication and other substances impacting the community. The coalition has earned a reputation for taking action to reduce youth substance use and by extension, reaching the adults in the students’ lives, as well.

Congratulations to all the award recipients and nominees. All 2017 nominees are listed in the 2017 Child Health Awards Program Booklet.

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation appreciates the diligence of the North Carolina Public Health Association (NCPHA) in overseeing the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Child Health Recognition Awards program. NCPHA coordinates many tasks associated with the program, including selecting healthcare professionals to serve as selection committee members. We are grateful to the committee members for their time and careful consideration of all nominations. The information presented was provided by the nominators and reflect their views. We appreciate their participation sharing the work of others that create innovative programs. Thank you to everyone involved.

Link to award booklets: Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2016, Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2015, Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2014, Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2013, Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2012, Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2011, Child Health Recognition Award Booklet 2010

2018 Nomination Form

Nominations due
May 31, 2018!

Elizabeth Krzysztoforska, DDS

Sarcanda Green, RN

Debbie Biggerstaff

Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services

Guilford County Department of Health & Human Services

Madison County Health Department