PIKEVILLE – Emphasizing the importance of having the medical community’s input on efforts to stop substance abuse, Operation UNITE and Pikeville Medical Center have teamed up to provide a seat on the anti-drug organization’s Board of Directors.

This partnership, and appointment of Cheryl Hickman, hospital vice president-assistant to President/CEO Walter E. May, was announced by Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers during a stop in Pikeville on Thursday, August 8.

“UNITE’s success continues to thrive through great partnerships across Kentucky, and this partnership with the Pikeville Medical Center is another example of two forces teaming up against the drug abuse epidemic,” Rogers said. “Cheryl Hickman is passionate about healthcare and substance abuse treatment. I am confident that her presence on the board will help UNITE plan for the future.”

Hickman, who will serve a three-year term, attended her first board meeting on Tuesday, August 20.

“I consider it a privilege and an honor to sit on the UNITE Board of Directors,” Hickman said. “UNITE has worked very hard to make a difference in the war on drugs in Eastern Kentucky and, because of this, inroads have been made to stop the pill mills in this area. This is making a difference for the future of Eastern Kentucky.”

Now in it’s 10th year, the organization works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for substance abusers, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of using drugs. UNITE’s goal is to educate and activate individuals by developing and empowering community coalitions to no longer accept or tolerate the drug culture.

UNITE is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors.

“I am proud to have Cheryl Hickman representing Pikeville Medical Center on the Operation UNITE’s Board of Directors,” May stated. “Operation UNITE is immensely important to our community in the battle against drug abuse. I am confident that Mrs. Hickman will represent Pikeville Medical Center and the community well.”

Pikeville Medical Center has long been involved with UNITE initiatives and the UNITE Pike community coalition.

“Any time Pikeville Medical Center has been asked to support youth activities or treatment programs they have generously provided funding or staff,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “The hospital has been an active member of UNITE’s Medical Advisory Committee since its formation in early 2011, and have assisted with statewide forums to educate medical professionals about substance abuse issues and regulations.”

“In addition, Pikeville Medical Center has been a fantastic partner with UNITE’s first two National Rx Drug Abuse Summits,” Smoot continued, noting the Summit is the largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state and federal agencies, business, academia, clinicians, treatment providers, counselors, educators, state and national leaders, and advocates impacted by Rx drug abuse.

Hickman earned an associate degree in nursing from Prestonsburg Community College, bachelor of nursing from Morehead State University, and masters in health service management from LaSalle University. She is board certified in nursing administration with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and a certified specialist in healthcare accreditation.

In her current position, Hickman provides oversight for all certification programs and clinical oversight for all outpatient services. In addition, she is responsible for the Hospital of the Year Survey from the American Alliance of Health Care Providers (which the hospital won the national award for customer service), and is a member of the administrative team to oversee and ensure that budgets are met.

Previously Hickman served as Pikeville Medical Center’s chief nursing officer, director of children’s services, unit manager for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatrics, house supervisor and assistant director of nursing service, and head nurse in the Critical Care Unit.

In 2005, Hickman was recognized on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Senator Mitch McConnell for leading a medical team to the New Orleans Airport during Hurricane Katrina. In 2004, she was the first nurse in Kentucky to receive the American Organization of Nurse Executive AONE “Community Partnership Award” – one of the highest and most prestigious national awards given for significant contributions to advance the nursing profession.

She is a member of several advisory boards and professional organizations.