Letter from Pikeville Medical Center VP Board of Directors and CEO, Donovan Blackburn
Speaking to you,
from my heart.
In addition to serving as Pikeville Medical Center Board of Directors Vice President and CEO, I am also a husband, a father and a grandfather (PopPop). Like many others, I have also been personally affected by the lack of certain pediatric services in our region. In the case of our family, we found ourselves desperately searching for a local therapy option for children diagnosed with Autism.
When my granddaughter, Ava, was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at age 2, many heath professionals told her parents relocating hours away from Eastern Kentucky would be the best option for her to receive the care she needed and deserved. That was the wake-up call for my family, and for me, personally as CEO of Pikeville Medical Center. Instead of uprooting our family and accepting the false premise that good pediatric care can only come from far away cities, we immediately began working to develop solutions right here at home. With the help of an amazing team, and more importantly, God, stumbling blocks were removed one by one.
In May of 2020, PMC opened the Appalachian Valley Autism (AVA) Center, in one of the nation’s most impoverished areas. The first comprehensive facility of its kind in our region offers Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech, Occupational and Feeding therapies. Because of this investment, children ages 1-12 — including my own beautiful granddaughter — are beginning to excel and reach their full potential. However, throughout the AVA Center development, we discovered the need for these life-changing services is even greater than I had originally thought. We have already outgrown our initial location.
According to statistics, approximately 1 in 54 children has been identified as having ASD. One metro hospital a couple of hours from Pikeville has reported diagnosing and currently seeing as many as 150 Pike County children with Autism.
With numbers like these, it pains me to think of how many children and their families have either had to move away or travel hours, multiple days per week, for therapy. We are now blessed to be able to offer that same therapy right here in Eastern Kentucky.
From the opening, the demand for these services has been tremendous. Families and physicians have been incredibly supportive as we grew both in physical size and personnel. With your help, we will have the ability to keep up with the growing demand for these transformative services.
Our granddaughter, Ava and others facing similar challenges deserve to have the same opportunities as children in larger cities. PMC and your business formed a partnership that has allowed us both to prosper and achieve great success. I am asking you to join us in this new fundraising campaign to ensure children also prosper and experience success. By doing this, you can speak from your heart for those whose voices often go unheard,
lam personally requesting that you look over the information in this booklet.
With your contribution, success can echo throughout the entire life of a child. As valued partners, we should all speak from the heart together. Together, we can and will provide a brighter tomorrow for our most important asset, our children.
Together, we rise. Together, we Speak From the Heart.