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Naritoku honored with Heart of Gold award

Dean Naritoku, M.D., contributed to the Seizure Safe Schools Act, which allows for rescue medications to be accessible to young epileptic students when a school nurse is not.

Published Aug 17th, 2021

By Shelbey Ernest
sernest@health.southalabama.edu

For his efforts to ensure children have access to life-saving medicines at school, Dean Naritoku, M.D., professor and chair of neurology at USA Health and professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently was awarded the Heart of Gold award from United Way of Southwest Alabama.

Naritoku was unanimously selected to receive the Heart of Gold award in education for his contribution to the Seizure Safe Schools Act.

The Seizure Safe Schools Act allows for rescue medications to be accessible to young patients when a school nurse is not. This legislation was crucial for the more than 7,500 families who have children with epilepsy.

“I am very honored to receive the award and the recognition of the importance of care for children and those of all ages who are affected by epilepsy,” Naritoku said. “I have committed a lifetime to epilepsy patient care, research and education, so I was happy to provide my strong endorsement for the Seizure Safe Schools Act with the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama.”

The award is given to one volunteer in each of four categories: education, health, financial stability and essentials. Each volunteer is nominated by another community member.

Sara Franklin, executive director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama, nominated Naritoku. “Because of his help, the bill passed both chambers unanimously and was signed by Governor Kay Ivey earlier this summer,” she said. “Dr. Naritoku was always willing to contact Alabama state legislators and instrumental committee chairs to emphasize the importance of this legislation.”

The Heart of Gold award is an annual recognition to honor volunteers for their dedication and service to the four counties of southwest Alabama: Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile and Washington.

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