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Bureau of Women's and Children's Health

News and Views – December 2012

Bureau of Women's and Children's Health - News and Views

Table of Contents

Want to read this publication offline? You can print a hard copy of this issue. To find previous issues, visit our newsletter archive.

New Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Cunningham

Mary Ellen Cunningham

As we rapidly approach the end of the year it is a nice opportunity to look back at what we have accomplished and what we visualize accomplishing in the coming year. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am the new chief of the Bureau of Women's and Children's Health. I have worked in BWCH for more than seven years, most recently as the chief of the Office of Children's Health. In my new role as Bureau Chief I am so fortunate to be able to work with an amazing group of knowledgeable, dedicated professionals. As many of you know the vision of the Bureau of Women's and Children's Health is Healthy Women…Healthy Children…Healthy Tomorrow. Our mission is to strengthen the family and the community by promoting and improving the health and safety of women and children.

We work to accomplish that mission by assessing the needs of women and children in Arizona, setting priorities based on those needs and implementing strategies to meet the priority needs. As a bureau we focus on injury prevention; oral health; the health of women and the health of children including children with special health care needs and evaluation. This past year there has been a special focus on home visiting, teen pregnancy prevention and preconception health. If you see a theme here it is prevention. By helping Arizona's women and children to reach their optimal health and by looking at wellness through a life course perspective we are working to make a difference in not only this generation but the generations of Arizonans to come.

My goal is to enhance our efforts of working collaboratively with stakeholders, to draw on each other's strengths and support each other in our mutual goal of wellness for all Arizonans. I look forward to our continued work with you, the community, and our internal and external partners. We are on the cusp of a new year. Let's make this the year we as the public health community present a united front promoting healthy lifestyles and offering support to our families where needed.

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Arizona Health Start Program Assists with CDC Healthy Homes Community Needs Assessment

Healthy Homes

The mission of the Arizona Healthy Homes Program is to improve safety and health by increasing the number of safe and healthy homes throughout Arizona. The Health Start Program provided assistance with the ADHS Office of Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Healthy Homes needs assessment for Arizona communities by conducting over 500 home surveys. The Health Start Program (HSP) was a perfect partner, since HSP provides home visiting services to over 3,200 clients and their families per year through 14 contracted agencies in 11 counties. The survey covered five main areas: general demographic information, the condition of the home/residence, community needs, home environment and feedback from the family. In addition, questions about the presence of chronic disease among household members such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure were integrated along with questions about the use of cookware that could have traces of lead.

According to Jessie Toporek, Program Manager for the Healthy Homes Program, the results of the community needs assessment will help determine which housing related health hazards pose the greatest risk to Arizonans. The results will assist in the design of health education campaigns that are specific to community needs and will forge partnerships with other organizations that can provide lead based paint remediation and weatherization services as well as identifying the need for chronic disease management programs.

Families have appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback on needs and concerns in their communities. Many state that they feel safe and have friendly neighbors but are concerned about access to medical care and lack of jobs. Yuma County Health Department, Health Start Coordinator, Hugo Aguirre stated "this was a good opportunity for the clients to look at the neighborhood conditions and environmental hazards that exist in the home and how it impacts their children's health." The results will also help inform the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) National Quality Improvement Demonstration Initiative for State Public Health Programs and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) project, an 18 month award to the ADHS Division of Public Health Prevention Services to improve the existing Safe Home/Safe Child assessment process which will integrate chronic disease and environmental concerns.

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Does it Run In the Family?

Holiday time is upon us! Part of the celebration may be family gatherings, meals with seldom seen relatives or stories from grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. This year as you sit around the table or family room exchanging stories, ask your relatives to help you compile a family health history. Learning about your family's health history is a fast, cheap, and easy way to help you and your family be as healthy as possible. It can help guide your health care provider to the best options when discussing health care decisions and may help you make healthy lifestyle choices, lowering your risk of developing an illness or condition.

Does It Run In the Family is an easy tool by Genetic Alliance that can help you collect family health history information and share it with relatives or use it with healthcare providers. The health history is intended to help families use their knowledge and experience to improve communication with health care providers and be as healthy as possible.

Families are all unique and the same elements of a health history are not always useful to everyone. For this reason, the tool has many parts that can be customized: personal stories about health, pictures of familiar faces, questions to ask relatives, condition information, local resources, quotes, and more.

Several family members may work together to develop a comprehensive family history or an individual may work on it alone. The tool is easy to use and the finished history can be downloaded and shared as an electronic file or printed. Does It Run In the Family is available to anyone without cost. Check it out, make it your own and give your family a step up to better health.

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Community Service Locator

MCH library

The MCH Library at Georgetown University has developed a new edition of the Community Services Locator, an online directory for finding services for children and families in the communities in which they live. The locator can be used by service providers and families to find available child care and early childhood education programs, developmental assessments and learning services, family support, financial support, and health and wellness care.

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New Informed Consent Website

A new legislatively mandated website was launched on November 2, 2012. The Arizona Informed Consent website was created in accordance with House Bill 2036 (now ARS 36-2158) which requires ADHS to establish a website within 90 days of the General Effective Date and to update the website annually. The website is intended to provide women contemplating abortion as a pregnancy option with a range of information that the legislature deemed important for making an informed decision.

The bill specifies the type of information that must be included on the website and requires a physician who is to perform an abortion, to inform their patient about the availability of the informed consent website verbally and in person. In addition, the patient must be told that she has the right to review the website and receive a free printed copy of the website materials.

The Informed Consent website is required to contain the following information; a description of fetal development at two-week intervals along with realistic pictures or drawings, descriptions of the various methods of abortion along with the commonly associated risks associated with each method, and the medical risks associated with carrying a pregnancy to term. In addition, the website must contain a list of various resources available to help a woman through pregnancy, at childbirth and while her child is a dependent. These resources include adoption services for babies with or without nonlethal fetal conditions, medical assistance benefits, lists of perinatal hospice programs that are available both in this state and nationally, information regarding support services, hotlines, resource centers or clearinghouses, national and local peer support groups and other education and support programs available to assist the woman and her unborn child.

The website includes a list of services available statewide and a list of services available by county. If an appropriate agency is not listed on the website, there is a mechanism for them to submit a request for consideration to be included on the website.

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Strong Families Arizona

More and more research is pointing to infancy as the most critical time in an individual's life. The environment a baby spends time in during the first three years sets a foundation for a lifetime. Most parents want to do the best for their new baby, regardless of their circumstances or background. But many do not know about breastfeeding, nutrition, child development, fussy babies, oral health and community resources that they could call upon to provide a hand. For many families lack of knowledge is exacerbated by problems of poverty, substance abuse, violence in the home, mental health issues and more.

Home visiting programs support pregnant women and families with young children with information, parenting skills and linkages to community resources. Home visiting has yielded positive results in terms of women receiving good prenatal care and having a healthy baby, understanding of nutrition and child development, early identification of developmental delays, enhanced family self-sufficiency and school readiness and reductions in the incidences of child abuse and neglect. Over time, home visiting has returns of up to $5.70 per taxpayer dollar spent. Building on an action plan encapsulated in "The Vision for Early Childhood Home Visiting Services in Arizona" by a task force organized by First Things First, the Bureau of Women's and Children's Health convened our sister state agencies and in an extremely short time wrote federal grants for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) funded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010PDF. They were awarded $12 million. The money will provide evidence based home visiting services in communities throughout our state; capacity building in areas of Arizona with no home visiting services; and a statewide professional development system to sustain this after the end of the grant in 2015.

On September 19 and 20 the first Helping Families Thrive - Home Visitors Conference 2012 was held, and 496 home visitors throughout Arizona attended. Speakers included Dr. Kevin Nuget from the Harvard Brazelton Institute, Elita Amini Virmani from WestEd Center for Family Studies, Dr. Ross Thompson from UC Davis, as well as our own Mary Ellen Cunningham and Will Humble. Participants were extremely positive about the information they received at the plenary and the workshops.

Simultaneously the Strong Families AZ website was launched. Strong Families is a collaboration of state agencies and community partners committed to providing high quality home visiting throughout the state while building a system composed of professional development, outreach to special populations, a continuum of services and continuous quality improvement. The site will assist families to locate services and help providers learn about training and other professional resources. For more information about home visiting contact Jessica Blanco or Meloney Baty.

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Arizona's Healthy Babies Project

In 2012, 334 Arizona babies died in the first month of life and 509 died before their first birthday. While there have been many advances in public health and medicine, there is also a long way to go. Even though all child deaths are not preventable, there are many things that can help to reduce this heartbreaking number.

In April of this year, ADHS Director Will Humble was challengedPDF by the current president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers to reduce infant mortality and prematurity. Specifically the challenge was to reduce prematurity 8% by 2014. While ADHS and other partners have been working on reducing infant mortality and prematurity for many years, ADHS has partnered with the Arizona Chapter of the March of Dimes and the Arizona Perinatal Trust for this campaign. The strategies include:

  1. Expanding home visiting programs to families and pregnant women in high-risk communities;
  2. Developing standards for home visiting programs throughout Arizona and professional development of home visitors so that home visits maximize opportunities to reduce risks for premature birth and child injury;
  3. Expanding awareness of the importance of preconception health and implementation of the Arizona Preconception Health Strategic PlanPDF;
  4. Continuing to support the March of Dimes "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" Less Than 39 Weeks Toolkit in Arizona Perinatal Trust certified hospitals;
  5. Renew focus on infant safe sleeping practices to reduce post-neonatal infant mortality; and
  6. Use social media and public relations events to promote the overall campaign.

ADHS invites you to join this campaign and learn more about our Healthy Babies Project.

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Dorothy Hastings Retires from State Service

Dorothy Hastings

After 32 years in Public Health, Dorothy Hastings said her good-byes to friends and colleagues mid-October. During the last thirteen years of her career, Dorothy was with the Arizona Department of Health Services where she supervised the education programs of the Bureau of Women's and Children's Health which included Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Sexual Violence Prevention and Education, Family Planning and Domestic Violence Prevention. Additionally she was involved in Early Childhood and Children's Information Center and Breastfeed Hotlines. She helped create program policy to ensure compliance with federal and state legislation as well as developing written reports and staff training plans. Dorothy worked closely with many community based organizations. She was a member of many committees and organizations: the Project Connect Leadership team, AZ Adolescent Health Coalition, Rotary International, AZ State Child Fatality Review Team, past president of the Arizona County Health Officers Association, past president of the AZ Public Health Association, and past president of the Pinal Gila Child Community Services/Head Start, just to name a few. Dorothy was selected as ADHS/BWCH Employee of the Year in 2009 and Employee of Month for August 2010. Congratulations on your accomplishments!

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Introducing New BWCH Team Members

Irene Burnton

Irene (Jacobs) Burnton joined the BWCH team as Chief of the Office of Children's Health in September. She brings extensive background in the area of children and family issues and public policy. Most recently she served as President and CEO of the O'Connor House, a project begun by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (retired). She served as the Director of the Governor's Office of Children, Youth and Families where she staffed the Children's Cabinet, Foundation Roundtables, managed 50 staff that allocated $40 million in grants and oversaw 17 Boards and Commissions. She directed the School Readiness Board which created the action plan that ultimately transitioned into First Things First. In her position at ADHS, she serves as lead for early childhood issues, as a liaison on children's health with other state agencies and community organizations. Irene also oversees the staff who manage the High Risk Perinatal/Newborn Intensive Care Program; Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; Project LAUNCH; Children's Information and Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Hotlines; Hearing and Vision Screening Program; Medical Services Project; and the County Health Department Prevention Program.


Jessice Blanco

Jessica Blanco was selected as the Program Manager of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) in August, 2012. She has worked extensively with children and families in multiple capacities; most recently she was involved in what is now Streetlight USA. She started and led the Awareness and Prevention campaign that educated the community on the issue of child sex slavery in Phoenix which led to the ability to open a local safe house for rescued victims. She is excited to be able to bring her experience to BWCH to expand preventive services in high risk communities through the Home Visiting Program. She will focus on program implementation, evaluation and grants management for the Healthy Families and Nurse Family Partnership Home Visiting Programs.


Meloney Baty

Meloney Baty, MA, CCLS, is the new Program Manager in charge of community capacity building for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). She has 17 years of experience in the child development field; most recently at Phoenix Children's Hospital as the Child Life Director. She is a seasoned professional with experience steering and directing all aspects of operations. Meloney is a successful project manager, a few of her notable projects include: developing and implementing Summer Reading Programs for the City of Albuquerque Public Library System, creating and facilitating a Family Mentor Program in the Children's Heart Center at the University of New Mexico and designing and implementing a new Employee Mentor Program at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Meloney possesses strong organizational skills and outstanding written and verbal communication. We are happy to have her as part of our team.

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