Category Archives: Health

Highland Rivers Health Governing Board Elects Officers for 2018 Fiscal Year

DALTON, Georgia – July 18, 2017 – Chantel Adams, founder and CEO of Forever We, Inc., was elected chair of the Highland Rivers Health governing board at the board’s regular meeting in June. Her one-year term as chair began July 1, the start of the agency’s 2018 fiscal year.

Chantel Adams
Chantel Adams

Adams, who is the Cherokee County representative on the agency’s board, has served as vice chair for the past two years. A child health advocate, the company Adams founded developed specialized dolls for children with cancer, which can also be provided to the child’s friends, classmates and family members, all at no cost to the recipients.

Other officers elected for FY18 include Cedartown City Manager and Polk County representative Bill Fann as vice chair; Gordon County board member Cindy Cochran, director and family advocate at the Family Resource Center of Gordon County, as secretary, for a second year; and Polk County board member Jonathan Blackmon, chief deputy of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, as treasurer, also for a second year.

“Part of the reason Highland Rivers Health continues to thrive is that we have an outstanding governing board that is active, supportive and takes its governing role very seriously,” said Highland Rivers CEO Melanie Dallas. “Having Ms. Adams and Mr. Fann – who have both served on our board for many years – elected to the top two positions will continue the standards of accountability and excellence that were the hallmark of the chairmanship of Judge Allen Wigington during the past two years.”

Highland Rivers’ governing board includes a representative from every county in the agency’s 12-county service area (with two representatives from both Floyd and Polk counties) who are appointed by each county’s board of commissioners. The board has four officers (chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer) who are selected by board members, and two standing committees: corporate compliance and finance. Members serve three-year terms and terms are staggered to ensure continuity of governance.

The board includes several individuals who have family members with mental illness, addictive disease or developmental disabilities, and includes representatives from the judicial system, family services, private industry, law enforcement, local government and healthcare, among others.

The Highland Rivers governing board meets every other month, six times each year. All board meetings are open to the public and are announced in advance.

FY18 Highland Rivers Health governing board meeting schedule:
All FY2018 meetings will be held at Highland Rivers’ ROC Clubhouse, 1 Goodyear Ave., Cartersville, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The finance and compliance committees meet at 9:30 a.m., prior to the full board meeting.
• August 23, 2017
• October 25, 2017
• December 13, 2017
• February 28, 2018
• April 25, 2017
• June 27, 2017

Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel Issues Antihistamine Medication Warning for Parents and Caregivers

Decatur, GA – The Georgia Child Fatality Review (GCFR) Panel is issuing a public awareness statement for parents and caregivers to never use antihistamine medications for the sole purpose of making children sleep or calm down.  The danger of such misuse is acute diphenhydramine intoxication that can result in rapid heart rate, confusion, hallucinations, convulsions, and even death.

Since 2013, the Georgia Poison Control (GPC) Center has received 940 reports of this condition involving children age 5 and under.  In Georgia, four infants have died because of the toxic effects of diphenhydramine since 2015.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration advises that children under age two not be given any kind of cough and cold product that contains a decongestant or antihistamine, because serious and possibly life-threatening side effects could occur.  National polling data has shown that as many as one in five mothers have given such drugs to get through a “big event,” such as a long car ride or plane trip.  In some cases, it is dosing errors that cause the acute intoxication of the diphenhydramine.  The difference between a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon can mean life or death for an infant.

Not sure which antihistamine is best for your child? Call your doctor or pediatrician.  If you think you gave too much medication to your child, immediately contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or start a LIVE CHAT with a poison information specialist at 

The main purpose of the GCFR Panel is to prevent child deaths.  The mission of GCFR is to serve Georgia’s children by promoting more accurate identification and reporting of child fatalities, evaluating the prevalence and circumstances of both child abuse cases and child fatality investigations, and monitoring the implementation and impact of the statewide child injury prevention plan to prevent and reduce incidents of child abuse and fatalities in the state.

The GPC mission is to provide high quality poison center services to healthcare professionals and residents of Georgia. GPC goals are: provide 24-hour-a-day prompt and accurate poison information, educate Georgia residents on poison prevention and first aid, and educate healthcare professionals in the areas of clinical toxicology, poisoning epidemiology, poison prevention, toxicological diagnosis, and care.

Deal announces launch of Georgia STABLE

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the launch of Georgia STABLE, a tax-free savings program for eligible individuals with disabilities. The program is administered by the Georgia Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program Corporation, established through legislation signed in 2016. The Georgia ABLE Act is modeled after the federal ABLE Act of 2014.

“Georgia STABLE is an important part of our ongoing efforts to provide effective tools and better opportunities for Georgians with disabilities,” said Deal. “This savings program will be a beneficial asset for people with disabilities across the state as they live more independent lives, seek gainful employment and plan for the future. Georgia STABLE is another step toward ensuring our citizens with disabilities have the means and support necessary to live and work as independently as possible.”

A STABLE account has many features of a regular bank account and acts as an investment account, similar to a 529 college savings account or a 401(k) retirement account. Contributions and earnings in STABLE accounts are not subject to federal or state income tax if spent on qualifying expenses, such as education, health care, housing and transportation. Contributions to STABLE accounts are made with after-tax dollars.

“Anytime there is an opportunity to increase the tools available to individuals that will lead them to a life of greater independence is an accomplishment for the people we serve,” said Department of Community Health (DCH) Commissioner and ABLE Board Chairman Frank Berry. “STABLE is one of those tools.”

Georgia STABLE significantly expands opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently by allowing certain individuals to save and invest money without losing eligibility for other public benefits programs such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.

“STABLE is a unique way for Georgians with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become integrated into the fabric of community life through financial independence,” said Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) Commissioner and ABLE Board Vice Chair Judy Fitzgerald. “This is an exciting and important step forward.”“While many people with a disability lead a productive life, the passage of the ABLE legislation will allow many more to pursue their dreams of living independently and pursuing a career,” said Georgia ABLE Act sponsor Rep. Lee Hawkins.

Georgia STABLE account holders can receive a debit card linked directly to their account. While money can be withdrawn and spent on qualified expenses as needed, STABLE accounts allow account holders to grow their finances and establish long-term savings with tax-free earnings. Up to $14,000 may be contributed to each account annually, and contributions may continue to be made until the account balance reaches $445,000. Friends and family members may also make contributions on behalf of an account holder.

About ABLE:

The Georgia ABLE Program Corporation is governed by a board of directors. State officials are determined for membership by statute, and three additional directors are appointed by the governor.

The ABLE Act Program Corporation board of directors includes:

  • Commissioner Frank Berry, DCH (Chairman)
  • Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald, DBHDD (Vice Chair)
  • Treasurer Steve McCoy, Office of the State Treasurer (Administrative Officer)
  • Commissioner Lynne Riley, Department of Revenue
  • State Auditor Greg Griffin, Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts
  • Director Teresa MacCartney, Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and the state’s Chief Financial Officer
  • Tena Blakey, president-elect, Service Providers Association for Developmental Disabilities
  • Justin Pressley, disability advocate
  • Mark Bible, disability advocate

More information about Georgia STABLE, including the application form, can be found at