HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Debbie Sanford has been a member of the Pine Grove team in Hattiesburg for the last eleven years.
In 2006, she became the behavioral health leader's head administrator. It's a position she finds to be very meaningful.
According to Sanford, "We are making a real difference in peoples lives. And the patients that come to us for care are in as much pain as they would have if they were having a heart attack or suffering cancer."
That is because Pine Grove patients are often times struggling with a mental illness or addiction problems.
"We are a full continuum behavioral heath center and offer inpatient and outpatient residential services to not only our community and within our state, but we've treated patients from 49 states in the United States and eight foreign countries," said Sanford.
For her leadership skills at Pine Grove, Sanford was recently recognized by the magazine, Behavioral Healthcare, as one of it's five 2011 champions. The recipients are selected from a national pool of nominees.
Sanford said, "Well I was very surprised since I didn't know that I was nominated. Very honored, but Pine Grove is such a wonderful organization to represent so I always feel honored to represent Pine Grove in any way."
Earlier this month in San Diego during the national conference on addiction disorders, Sanford was honored along with the magazines four other award recipients.
Sanford was the only woman in the group to be named a 2011 Behavioral Healthcare Champion.