Debra A. Samaha MPH, RN, Awarded New Hampshire Public Citizen of the Year Award by the New Hampshire Pediatric Society

Deb Samaha and Dr. Steve Chapman
Debra A. Samaha MPH, RN, left, with Steve Chapman, MD

On September 12, Debra A. Samaha MPH, RN, manager, Injury Prevention Program, Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), received the New Hampshire Public Citizen of the Year Award by the New Hampshire Pediatric Society.

Noted in Deb’s nomination: “Debra is the program manager for the Injury Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and her advocacy efforts have benefitted children all over New Hampshire. Deb leads Safe Kids NH at CHaD and is dedicated to preventing accidental childhood injury, which is the leading cause of death in children ages 14 and under in New Hampshire. She initiated the Period of PURPLE Crying, a shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma prevention program, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and was instrumental in the expansion of the program to nearly every hospital in New Hampshire as well as several pediatric offices. In addition, Deb has lead the Injury Prevention Center in developing resources related to distracted driving education, teen suicide prevention and recreation/sports safety. Most recently, she is working on programming related to firearms safety and a gunlock distribution pilot initiative.”

Samaha was nominated for the award by Erik Shessler, MD, associate medical director, General Pediatrics at CHaD, Manchester, “Just bringing up her name up triggered an outpouring of support from the pediatric providers around the state who were in attendance at our nominating committee meeting. I’ve seen the great work she does first hand he says.

Steve Chapman, MD, medical director, General Pediatrics Clinic at CHaD and president of the New Hampshire Pediatric Society presented Samaha with her award. “It was a pleasure to give Deb the award. She has done extraordinary advocacy and work on behalf of children, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Deb is always ready to go the extra mile, particularly when children’s safety is at risk,” says Chapman.

“It’s a tremendous privilege to receive this award, but every day in this job is a privilege. Watching families be able to realize their dreams and knowing I’m helping families avoid trauma and tragedy is what motivates me,” says Samaha.

Samaha feels strongly that this award is part of a greater circle adding, “The work I do is not solitary work. Everything I’ve accomplished has involved partnerships with amazing colleagues, organizations and coalitions throughout the state, not to mention the incredible support and strength of people who work at the injury prevention center.

“I have the award plaque in my office, and I will treasure it forever,” Samaha says, “and I admit, I’m a weeper, so when learned I got the award, it definitely brought tears to my eyes.”