BURLINGTON – North Carolina’s public health professionals were recently honored with GlaxoSmithKline Child Health Recognition Awards for improving children’s health through a variety of programs. All nominees were recognized and winners announced at an awards ceremony in Charlotte during the North Carolina Public Health Association’s annual meeting. Two members of the Alamance County Health Department staff, Eric Nickens, Jr. and Kathleen Shapley-Quinn, MD, were among the recipients.  Nickens serves as Health Education Supervisor and Public/Media Affairs Officer.  Shapley-Quinn serves as Medical Director.

This year’s GlaxoSmithKline Child Health Recognition Awards focused on outstanding collaborative programs that affect the health of children in all nomination categories. The awards, which include monetary grants, were presented in four categories.

Nickens and Shapley-Quinn were two of three individuals to receive the Public Health Staff Recognition Award.  The Public Health Staff Recognition Award is given to full-time or part-time employees or retirees of local health departments in recognition of outstanding service in preventive health activities in their local communities.

Nickens was recognized for his media and public health education initiatives associated with the Alamance-Caswell Give Kids a Smile program.  The program, a partnership between the Alamance County Health Department and the Alamance-Caswell Dental Society, provides free preventative dental treatment for children that have no insurance coverage and do not qualify for Medicaid or the NC Health Choice program.  In addition, participating dentist also adopt children seen during the annual event into their dental practices for further restorative treatment, at no cost.

Shapley-Quinn was recognized for her work in meeting mental and physical health needs of low-income and minority women.  Through a successful collaborative partnership with experts at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, many pregnant women and new moms suffering from addiction have been treatment.  In addition, Shapley-Quinn has worked to reduce disparities in breastfeeding, and developed materials to train staff to assess and treat psychiatric illness during the perinatal period. The awards program, which is sponsored by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, is intended to recognize and thank public health professionals for their innovative and creative approaches to the many health care needs of children and families, particularly those with low incomes.

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation supports activities that help meet the educational and health needs of today’s society and future generations. The Foundation focuses on programs that emphasize the understanding and application of health, science and education at all academic and professional levels.

Nickens Receives North Carolina Public Health Association 2011 All-Star Award

In addition to GlaxoSmithKline honors, Nickens was one of ten public health professions in North Carolina to receive NCPHA’s 2011 All-Star Award.  The award recognizes individuals working in public health agencies throughout North Carolina that embody the spirit of the public health profession.

NCPHA was formed in 1909 by a group of concerned county superintendents of health in an effort to promote public health in North Carolina.  One hundred years later, the Association of individuals and organizations continues working to improve the public’s health through political advocacy, public awareness, professional development, and serving as an interface between research and practice.