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Hayes’ Physician Daughter Honored At White House

on May 6, 2016 - 8:32am
Ann Hayes
Los Alamos

What do you do when you hear that your doctor daughter is going to be honored in a White House ceremony? You make arrangements to be there, of course.

A news release from the White House on April 24 announced that Dr. Leslie Hayes, daughter of Ann Hayes (a member of the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos) was one of 10 people to be honored April 29 as “White House Champions of Change for Advancing Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery.” The 10 were selected “for their leadership and tireless work to prevent prescription drug abuse and heroin use, improve access to treatment, and support recovery.”

Dr. Hayes, who lives in Pojoaque, is a family practitioner with El Centro Family Health in Española.

The White House news release said, “While Dr. Hayes enjoys all aspects of family medicine, she said her particular passion is taking care of people with opioid-use disorders. She works with pregnant women and new mothers who have substance use disorders to make sure that they and their babies receive compassionate and appropriate medical care. Dr. Hayes received much of her training in substance use disorders through Project ECHO, a program that uses telecommunication to link specialists with primary care providers She considers herself extremely fortunate to have been able to give back to Project ECHO, and she now provides training for other providers around the State of New Mexico in substance use disorder and use of the medication assisted treatment buprenorphine.”

Ann and her two daughters (Leslie and Rachel), and Emily (Ann’s granddaughter, who is the daughter of Leslie and David R. Rich), flew to Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening, April 28.

The three-and-a-half-hour ceremony started at 1 pm. on Friday at the Eisenhower Executive Building-the White House. Ann said that they had to be there early to go through security.

Among the speakers were: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell; Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli; and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Ann said that Botticelli told the crowd that illegal drugs “have reached epidemic proportions.” He added, “We’re glad we have these champions.”

The 10 people to be honored were divided into two panels, and each spoke for about 10 minutes. Dr. Hayes was in the first panel, titled, “National Epidemic, Local Solutions.”

Ann said that her daughter told the crowd that she is part of ECHO, and that she believes ECHO has a potential cure—“a drug that suppresses the desire for opiates.” Hayes was the first doctor in Northern New Mexico to use the drug, Ann said, but she has now trained many others to use it.

Ann explained, “She is primarily concerned about pregnant women.” Many of them come to the doctor without sufficient prenatal preparation and an addiction problem. When a woman is addicted, the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department often takes the baby as soon as it is born.

Most of these women “WANT to get off drugs,”  Ann said, and her daughter “tries to get them off.” Is it working? “Yes,” she said, and one result is that more of these patients get to keep their children.

The last speaker at the ceremony was Jarrett, a presidential advisor, she used her time to thank the “champions” for their outstanding work.

After the program—Friday afternoon and then on Saturday morning—Ann and her daughters and granddaughter visited monuments (notably, the Lincoln Memorial) and the Smithsonian Institution. Throughout the weekend, a film crew of two young people from El Centro Family Health followed them everywhere they went. “It was kind of a hoot,” Ann said.

Looking back over the entire, memorable weekend, she said, “It was absolutely wonderful.”