William Sappenfield receives March of Dimes Service Award


The Florida Chapter of the March of Dimes announced the recipient of its 2019 Lawton Chiles Service Award: Dr. William M. Sappenfield, director of the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative.

Lori Reeves, March of Dimes former Regional Director of Maternal and Child Health; William Sappenfield, Director of the FPQC; Linda Detman, Associate Director of the FPQC

The award recognizes an individual whose work has positively influenced the advancement of maternal and child health in the state of Florida in the areas of leadership, advocacy, evidence informed interventions, collaboration, and/or reducing health disparities.  More specifically, nominees must have achievements and career contributions that have made a significant difference in the health of mothers, infants and children in Florida and demonstrated a significant long-term commitment to maternal and child health.

Dr. Sappenfield was nominated by the FPQC staff for his leadership in developing the FPQC and providing oversight, guidance and direction over its 10 year existence. 

After a 22-year career as a CDC epidemiologist, Bill came to Florida in 2005 to serve as the Florida Department of Health’s State MCH Epidemiologist and Unit Director for the MCH Practice and Analysis Unit, leading research, epidemiology, evaluation and health data efforts to guide policies and programs for Florida mothers and children.  At DOH, he joined the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) team, bringing his epidemiological expertise to the table and leading deeper analyses of the mortality data, led the development of Perinatal Periods of Risk profiles for each county and each Healthy Start coalition area in the state, giving local MCH advocates understandable data to guide policy development, and led efforts to monitor and study Florida’s high maternal and infant mortality rates

In 2011, Dr. Sappenfield joined the faculty of the University of South Florida as chair of the Department of Community and Family Health and director of the Chiles Center at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health.  Bill was instrumental in developing the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC), serving first as a co-director with Dr. John Curran, and since 2016 as director.  As director of the FPQC, Dr. Sappenfield champions its mission to advance health care quality and patient safety for all of Florida’s mothers and babies through collective quality improvement efforts with state and hospital partners.  Since its inception in 2011, Dr. Sappenfield has led the FPQC in facilitating hospital efforts that covered over half of the state’s births to address some of the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality including managing maternal hemorrhage during delivery, treating maternal hypertension in a timely fashion, and promoting safe vaginal births. In addition, he has championed a number of FPQC projects to improve infant health including reducing neonatal catheter associated blood stream infections, improving breastfeed rates for very low birth weight infants in the NICU, and most recently addressing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).  

Bill’s achievements are many and have made a substantive, measurable difference in the health of Florida’s women and children.  Moreover, it is his passion and commitment that make him a visionary leader and exemplify the spirit of the Lawton Chiles Service Award.  

Dr. Sappenfield was presented the award at the kick off meeting of the Maternal Opioid Recovery Effort (MORE) initiative in Orlando by Lori Reeves, March of Dimes volunteer and former Regional Director of Maternal and Child Health in November.

For more information on the FPQC, visit www.fpqc.org.

Story by Linda Detman and FPQC staff.