Congratulations to our very own Nathan Nickel, PhD, MPH, CHEER Data Consultant, for winning the prestigious University of Manitoba Falconer Emerging Researcher Rh Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship and Research in the Health Sciences category! The University of Manitoba officially announced this award on April 10, 2018. The award honors Nathan’s excellent research contributions and provides him with future supplementary support for his research. In addition to working for CHEER as a Data Consultant, Nathan is an Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and a Research Scientist at Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.
Nathan’s work for CHEER has mostly been related to our CHAMPS program. By analyzing hospital data, Nathan has looked at relationships such as whether CHAMPS is improving breastfeeding outcomes, whether CHAMPS is reducing racial breastfeeding disparities, and whether certain Steps out of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are especially important for certain racial groups versus others. CHEER hopes to publish Nathan’s research findings soon.
“Not only do the Ten Steps work,” Nathan enthusiastically shares, “they do seem to be reducing racial inequities, at least in Southern United Sates. And they are really important for African-American and Hispanic moms. All this adds motivation and impetus to why it’s important to do everything we can to overcome structural barriers. Some think that stats can be dry or dull, but this is the evidence that what we’re doing is working.”
Most of Nathan’s other research comes out of his work at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, his research “lab” located at and affiliated with the University of Manitoba. His work there involves looking at large datasets to find out what is helping to reduce maternal and child health inequity in Canada. Nathan says there are over 80 databases at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and that they include indicators such as healthcare, education, income assistance, social services, and housing. He and other researchers put all that information together to see which programs are working to improve maternal and child health.
“What I enjoy most about the work I do is finding out how we can help families lead healthier lives,” Nathan says. “We’re not just doing research for the sake of research. We’re asking, ‘How can we improve the health and wellbeing of families?’ I feel really fortunate that I get to do what I do.”
Nathan is the recipient of the Kenneth Hughes Young Investigator Award for Health Services Research and the Sidney S. Chipman Award. He also teaches the University of Manitoba’s School of Medicine’s graduate course in Epidemiology, and he participates on a federal working committee through the Canadian Institute for Health Innovation to look at ways Canada can reduce health inequities.
Congratulations, Nathan! It’s great to have you on our team!
This week’s CHEER Champion is an organization dedicated to equity at all levels. Orange House is a shelter in Athens, Greece for up to 20 refugees, and a day center for many more. Around 200 refugees a day visit Orange House to learn English, Greek, French, German, French, music, yoga and dance. Orange House provides free daycare for children whose parents are attending class, lunch daily for anyone who stops by, and free showers – very necessary with many refugees living in cramped accommodation with poor sanitation. Orange House also provides lawyers, social workers, psychological support, and referral services to free medical care.
Refugees who come to Orange House are from all over the world – Afghanistan, Congo, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria to name but a few. Zaatar, the parent NGO (Non Governmental Organization) also runs a support service for LGBT refugees and a back to school program to help refugees enroll their school age children into local Greek schools.
Right now, about 62,000 refugees are stranded in Greece, many of them from war-torn nations in the middle east. Many arrive after dangerous mountain treks, or cross from Turkey in small rubber boats to the Greek islands, where they can spend many months before being relocated to the Greek mainland. Other European nations recently closed their borders to refugees, which means Greece, a nation already suffering from severe economic depression, is now dealing with an additional crisis involving hosting and managing tens of thousands fleeing from their countries.
Marina Liakis founded and directs Orange House, which is staffed by volunteers from around the world, many of whom are from the refugee community themselves. CHEER congratulates Orange House on their great work!
Rosemary Cree Medicine, BA is Director of Blackfeet Nation’s Tribal Health Department and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe. She was nominated as CHEER Champion of the Week for her outstanding public health leadership for the Blackfeet community, including her supervision of 14 health programs and her advocacy for several public health initiatives on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“I care about my reservation and have a passion to help those in need,” shares Rosemary. “I go above and beyond my duties because I want a healthy community.”
Rosemary and CHEER work closely on a few of the projects which Rosemary oversees or participates in. These include the Blackfeet Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), a Tribal Health project funded by the State of Montana which will propose a plan to improve the health of Blackfeet in areas identified in the data-rich Blackfeet Community Health Assessment (CHA). CHEER provided technical assistance for the CHA and is now doing so for the CHIP.
Rosemary is also taking a major leadership role in the Blackfeet Opioid Project, including monthly meetings with the Opioid Prevention Taskforce (OPT). CHEER facilitates the OPT, which is working towards establishing a medication assisted therapy (MAT) clinic on the Blackfeet Reservation. The Blackfeet Tribe, Tribal Health, the Indian Health Service Blackfeet Community Hospital, the Silent Warriors, and many other community groups, with CHEER’s technical assistance, aim to launch the clinic in the coming year at the Southern Peigan Health Center in Browning, Montana. Rosemary went to the State of Montana requesting funds to start the MAT clinic, attended a two-day training, and put together a budget for the clinic.
Breastfeeding is another initiative dear to Rosemary’s heart. During one of Blackfeet’s Health Social Services meetings, Rosemary proposed a Breastfeeding Resolution to expressly give women in Blackfeet the right to breastfeed in public without fear of legal retribution. The Blackfeet Tribal Council met on and approved the proposal, and it is now an official Resolution on the Blackfeet Reservation since August 2017. Rosemary is also a member of the Blackfeet Breastfeeding Coalition, serving as a Tribal Health liaison between the Coalition and the Tribe and offering meeting space at the Tribal Health conference room.
Lastly, Rosemary has a new, exciting role representing the Blackfeet people on the state level. Since December 2016, she is part of the State Health Assessment (SHA)/State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) group for Montana. The group meets every other month in Helena, Montana and through webinars; works on various projects; advises on implementation, participates in annual assessments; strengthens the public health care system; and advises on preventive health and health services.
Congratulations, Rosemary! You are a true Champion!
Congratulations to the Mothers' Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist for opening the first human milk bank in the state of Louisiana! Louisiana is now the 22nd state in the United States to have a Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)-accredited human milk bank. The milk bank, which opened in March 2018, operates out of Ochsner Baptist Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Baby-Friendly-designated hospital which fully supports breastfeeding. Ochsner Baptist was part of the first wave of CHEER’s Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS) South program during 2014-2017, and became Baby-Friendly designated on October 31, 2017. Ochsner Baptist also has a level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and understands the critical importance of donated human milk for fragile preterm babies when a mother’s own milk is unavailable.
CHEER Champion of the week
Each week, we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).