This special section highlights the work our coalition partners are doing to keep our community safe, healthy and drug-free. Last month, we spoke with Evan Sexton from Renaissance Preferred Prenatal Outcomes Network (PPON).

What is your background in substance abuse prevention?

I began working in the “helping profession” in 1993, after graduating from UT-Knoxville in Psychology. For the next two years, I worked as a Case Manager for ACCT (Assessment and Care Coordination Team), a program focused on assessing at-risk children and families in rural counties of East Tennessee. The goal of the program was prevention focused at its core, and with the youths that needed more intensive services that could not be accessed in home, the goal was reunification. After two years working in the 16 counties surrounding Knox County, I felt passionate about furthering my career as a provider, and obtained my Master’s Degree in Human Development and Psychological Counseling at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  Since graduating in 1997, I’ve worked in a variety of behavioral health capacities in EAP’s, Itinerant Therapist, Residential Treatment, Hospital Based Treatment, Private Practice, Therapist, Care Coordinator, Clinical Director, Utilization Review/Patient Admissions and Program Director.

Most of the work I’ve had is with under-served, under-insured, under-resourced, rural and remote clients, or clients with specific needs that are not easily accessed. As an Itinerant Therapist in remote villages of Northwest Alaska, the problems of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, suicide, domestic violence, and substance abuse was pervasive, and this defined my focus on the importance of prevention, and creating access for treatment. This has led to a rewarding career in troubleshooting and refining treatment programs.

2.     How did you first become involved with our coalition?

I first became involved with the coalition as a representative of Blount Memorial Hospital’s Emotional Health and Recovery Center around 2007. I was active with the MDC until I moved to Nashville in 2011 and returned to East Tennessee in 2014 to be the Program Director of Renaissance Preferred Prenatal Outcomes Network, and was happy to reconnect with the MDC this Spring.

3.     Tell us a bit about Renaissance Preferred Prenatal Outcomes Network (PPON) and its services.

Renaissance PPON is a collaborative effort of participating physicians and other healthcare providers, support services and resources, to deliver a comprehensive and patient-centered option for the prevention and treatment of prenatal substance abuse. The Preferred Prenatal Outcomes Network is designed to facilitate referrals, enhance the exchange of information between the OB, treatment program, and other services, while monitoring the patient’s progress in an effort to foster a preferred outcome of a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

4.     What do you love most about your work at PPON?

I love the challenge of working to enhance a system of delivery to make it easier for pregnant women to seek substance abuse treatment. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), has reached critical mass in terms of its widespread incidence, its presence in the media and in legislature. Still, there exists a dearth of availability of treatment for pregnant women with substance abuse issues, especially those in their third trimester. It is my hope that the PPON not only becomes a best-practice care coordination process, but also influences the development of comprehensive healthcare standards for dealing with NAS.

5.     How can people get in touch with you to learn more about your services?

I can be reached by email at,

office at 865-329-8833

cell at 865-805-1782

fax at 865-381-1928