Jefferson Award: Heather Lyons-Burney

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Heather Lyons-Burney is taking on the war on opioid abuse in the Ozarks. She’s a pharmacist, who doesn’t stay behind the counter.

Lyons-Burney, PHARM. D., is an assistant clinical professor at UMKC’s satellite campus at Missouri State University. Her students see her real work being done outside the classroom.

“They can see that anyone can do this, Lyons-Burney said. “I just have a passion for something, and I’ve grabbed onto it, and I’ve helped pull other people along.”

After her residency at Cox Health, she moved to Branson and started to focus on prescription drug misuse and abuse.

“If people can’t get access to affordable health care, what are they going to look at for alternatives for maybe mental illness, pain issues, or that sort of thing?” Lyons-Burney said.

In 2010, she was part of a group that founded Faith Community Health Clinic in Branson, an affordable care clinic for people who don’t have insurance.

“We made sure that our dispensary, and our policy, was that we would not provide controlled substances or narcotics,” Lyons-Burney said. “We felt that there were other alternatives to pain management that we could recommend.

She’s also an advocate for a statewide prescription drug monitoring program and helped pass a county-wide PDMP in Taney County.

“Let’s identify the problem before it spirals out of control, before these patients end up seeking extra opioids, turn to heroin and cause death,” Lyons-Burney said.

So, what’s next?

“I get asked that a lot,” Lyons-Burney said. ” Sometimes people ask me what my hobby is and quite honestly, sometimes I think this is my hobby. I truly enjoy seeing if I can make a difference in the community. It’s why I teach because I can see that I’m making a difference in these kids’ lives too; hopefully setting them up for success. They get to see me too do some of these things in the community, and that’s huge.”

Lyons-Burney is also active in the ADAPT Coalition, which helps protect kids from substance abuse, and the DREAM Coalition, which stands for Drug Responsibility Education and Advocacy Movement.

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