Dr. Loretta Finnegan, a longtime Avalon resident, was honored by first lady Melania Trump and other officials Wednesday during Mrs. Trump’s visit to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Trump delivered the welcoming remarks at the National Conference on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She said there are few things harder than seeing a newborn suffering from opioid withdrawal and that she wants to shine a light on the issue.

While there, Mrs. Trump visited the Maternal Addiction Treatment Education and Research program.

“I am inspired by Dr. Loretta Finnegan’s lifetime dedication to helping children and look forward to learning more about HHS’ plans to develop and implement their new tracking program,” Mrs. Trump said in a statement following the visit.

Finnegan was presented with the Surgeon General’s medallion by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir and the first lady.

The medallion has not been given to a civilian in five years.

Finnegan received the medallion for “pioneering leadership and innovative performance both as a clinician and executive officer of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and for the Finnegan Score, a groundbreaking key assessment tool for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which remains widely used across the U.S. and the world,” according to the statement.

Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi said Finnegan has worked tirelessly on behalf of newborns.

“Dr. Finnegan’s Avalon family is absolutely thrilled that the highest level of federal government took time to recognize her incredible efforts in helping newborns who suffer from opioid withdrawal and other serious health issues,” Pagliughi said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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