Health department employees to be honored in Atlanta

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Three Chatham County Health Department employees will be recognized in Atlanta on Thursday at the Sistas Organizing to Survive gala. Debbie Hagins, M.D., Ada Owens, FNP, MSN and Tina L. Washington are being honored for their HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention efforts, especially in African-American women.

"We are fortunate to have employees like Dr. Hagins, Ada, and Tina to educate our community regarding HIV risk reduction," said Chatham County Health Department and Coastal Health District Chief Medical Officer Dr. Diane Weems in a news release. "This honor is well deserved and we couldn't be happier that they are being recognized for their efforts."

Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS) is new organization and is a 12 month Georgia Department of Community Health initiative formed to address HIV among African-American women. The gala is held being in conjuction with National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

More on the honorees from the Chatham County Health Department:

Debbie Hagins, M.D.

Hagins is Clinical Director of HIV/AIDS outpatient services at the Chatham CARE Center, the Chatham County Health Department's outpatient center that provides expanded services to those with HIV/AIDS. Hagins was instrumental in facilitating Gender, Race And Clinical Experience (GRACE), the largest clinical study to date in North America to examine gender differences in response to an HIV medication in women who have previously taken HIV medications. Hagins has garnered national recognition for using unique recruitment and retention strategies to maintain 100 percent participation among those enrolled in the trial.

Ada Owens, FNP, MSN

Owens is a family nurse practitioner and the Peer Advocate Supervisor at the Chatham CARE Center. She provides care to clients utilizing the services of the Chatham CARE Center, including an overwhelming amount of African-American females. She is a member of the Black Nurses Association. Upon arrival at the Chatham County Health Department Owens helped implement "The Teen Plus Pregnancy Program" in an effort to prevent pregnancy among African American teens in an area of Savannah known for high dropout rates, crime, sexually transmitted disease prevalence (including HIV/AIDS) and teen pregnancy. As part of this program, she created a Peer Group for teens to raise awareness and help with prevention strategies.

Tina L. Washington

Washington is the Senior Peer Advocate at the Chatham CARE Center where she helps clients adhere to HIV treatment protocols. She co-founded an educational group known as S.P.I.R.I.T (Successful. Positive. Individual. Reaching. Inspirable. Transformation.). The group helps clients manage their care using different tools available to them. Washington has been HIV positive for 17 years and is an advocate for all who are living with HIV.

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