Kerry Pride, DVM, MPH, DACVPM is the Local and Tribal Support Coordinator and Public Health Veterinarian for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Public Health and Safety Division (MT DPHHS/PHSD). Kerry has been wonderful to work with as CHEER’s contact at the state as we have assisted the Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne, and Rocky Boy Tribes with their Community Health Assessments (CHAs) and Blackfeet with their Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).
“I love working with people to help them make their communities a better place to live,” Kerry shares. “By providing funding, training, and technical assistance to health departments for community health planning, I am able to do a small part in helping communities understand and address health problems.”
Kerry’s job at MT DPHHS/PHSD has two parts. First, she works with all the local and Tribal health departments in Montana on community health planning activities. Her office provides grants and technical support to help complete CHAs, CHIPs, and organizational strategic plans. She travels around the state working with health department staff, community coalitions, and local boards of health. Second, she works with Montana’s department of livestock and other partners on zoonotic disease issues.
Kerry’s office has supplied funding, training opportunities and technical assistance for the Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne, and Rocky Boy CHAs and for the Blackfeet CHIP. CHEER coordinated these projects alongside each Tribe, and they are in various stages of completion. The CHAs are comprehensive summaries of health priorities, data and resources for each Tribe. The CHIP addresses top health priority issues based on the CHA. For more information, please visit our website.
“CHAs and CHIPs are important because community health planning allows communities to engage partners to understand the health concerns and develop a plan to address these issues,” Kerry says. “Resources and funding are always in short supply, so completing community health planning allows funding and resource to be applied where they are most needed.”
What does Kerry enjoy most about her job?
“I love traveling and working with the local and Tribal health departments and their community coalitions. I love seeing all the great work done in these communities to address health concerns,” she says.
Congratulations, Kerry, and thank you for all you do to make Montana a healthier state!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Tracy Sims, RN, CLS, Clinical Coordinator of the Newborn Nursery and CHAMPS Team Lead at Merit Health Madison in Canton, Mississippi. She has done an excellent job coordinating the Baby-Friendly journey at Merit Health Madison!
“When we began the Baby-Friendly journey my first thought was, ‘this will never work,’ but as we took baby steps not only did I see it can and does work, but it is the sweetest thing to see babies go skin-to-skin and find their way their ‘lunch,’” Tracy shares.
Tracy says the Baby-Friendly journey at Merit Health Madison has had its challenges but also its surprisingly smooth transitions. For example, she says, “getting everyone on board” was “the most challenging” aspect. Yet this was eased by “wonderful support” from their CNO, Tim Lolly, MSN, and their Director of Women’s Services, Carmen Alexander, PhD. Another challenge was figuring out the logistics of having a nurse remain in the room with the baby for the transition period, but this worked itself out. Tracy says the nurses had to get used to doing heel sticks on the babies in front of the parents, but now they are used to it and “wonder why it was such a big deal.” And the rooming-in, says Tracy, turned out to be “much easier on staff” because now they are not bringing babies back and forth throughout the stay.
“I am really excited about our hospital becoming a Baby-Friendly hospital and about the change in perception of breastfeeding in Mississippi,” Tracy says.
CHAMPS staff members were surprised when, on a recent CHAMPS mock survey at Merit Health Madison, Tracy was in a wheelchair with two broken feet. Tracy is so modest she had never mentioned her injury on her calls with CHAMPS!
Tracy shares, “When I first broke my feet one of my first thoughts was, ‘OH NO!!!...We have a mock survey with CHAMPS in 30 days and I am going to let the hospital down.’”
She says her director obtained approval for her to come to work in a wheelchair and focus only on getting the hospital prepared for the survey. She says this was a “blessing in disguise” because before she had been focused on staffing, and the accident gave her the opportunity to prepare for the survey.
Tracy says her favorite parts about her job are the people she works with and being able to help moms care for their babies. She says the administration is “great” and that they have a “great group of neonatologists and nurse practitioners” who have been supportive of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Tracy has had a long nursing career and has worked in several areas: ICU, ER, NICU, Same Day Surgery, Minor Surgery, and Newborn Care.
“These last 9 years in Newborn Care at this sweet little hospital has been the perfect way for me to wrap up my nursing career,” says Tracy.
Congratulations, Tracy, on a wonderful career and on all your efforts to serve mothers and babies at Merit Health Madison!
Pat Jones is a WIC Peer Counselor 2 for the Mississippi Department of Health. She was nominated as CHEER Champion of the Week for the excellent job she is doing helping to facilitate the CHAMPS Delta Hills Baby Café (Greenville, MS) and representing WIC at CHAMPS hospital Merit Health River Region (Vicksburg, MS).
“My passion for breastfeeding is what motivates me to do the work I do,” Pat shares. “I try to meet clients where they are and provide practical and accurate information concerning breastfeeding and how it can work in their family.”
Pat’s job as a WIC Peer Counselor 2 entails educating, encouraging, and supporting families regarding breastfeeding, and providing evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions. At the CHAMPS Delta Hills Baby Café, Pat strives to create a welcoming environment and facilitate open conversations about breastfeeding that meet the needs of all attendees.
“What I enjoy most about the Baby Café is that it has been a dynamic resource for the community,” says Pat. “I'm witnessing open dialogue on all aspects of breastfeeding.”
Pat shares that she is happy to be partnering with Merit Health River Region, where she has met with the maternal health staff to discuss the services the WIC Breastfeeding Program provides. She did a wonderful job representing WIC at a CHAMPS site visit there. Pat has also been a member of the Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition for more than 15 years and is proud to see the advancements they have made.
Congratulations, Pat! CHAMPS applauds your work and thanks you!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Deanna Trammell, CLC, WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) in the Indian Health Service’s Bethel Sub Regional Hospital in Bethel, Alaska. CHAMPS team members worked with YKHC during our American Indian/Alaska Native CHAMPS grant, and recently met Deanna at CHAMPS' 4-hr breastfeeding training at YKHC’s Prematernal Home in Bethel in March 2018. Deanna is the only WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for an expansive area in and around Bethel in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and she offers lactation support to a large population of mothers, including those in remote villages. She is originally from Aniak, Alaska and is a member of the Aniak Tribe.
“The Bethel WIC office covers a large portion of Southwest Alaska,—the majority of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta—servicing 3 boroughs and approximately 56-60 surrounding villages,” says Deanna. “It is a challenging, at times slightly overwhelming, yet extremely rewarding experience for me to be the only peer counselor for such an area as this.”
As a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, Deanna’s duties include: providing prenatal breastfeeding education; supporting mothers with breastfeeding, especially first-time mothers and those facing breastfeeding problems upon return to their home villages; providing pumps and breastfeeding supplies for eligible mothers on WIC; and referring mothers to general providers, pediatricians, or nutritionists/dieticians. Deanna also regularly visits the obstetrics ward at YKHC to speak with newly delivered mothers about breastfeeding and to follow-up with mothers on WIC.
The villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are remote and mostly reachable only by airplane, and sometimes by vehicle when the river is frozen enough for safe driving. Because of this, pregnant mothers usually come to Bethel around 1 month prior to their expected due date and remain for 48-72 hours postpartum before returning home unless there are medical reasons to stay longer. These mothers stay at YKHC’s Prematernal Home, a hotel, or with family members who may live in Bethel. Deanna teaches a breastfeeding class at the Prematernal Home every 3 weeks. After the mothers return home to their villages, Deanna follows-up with them by phone depending on their breastfeeding needs. Deanna shares that these mothers’ experiences with breastfeeding range from very easy to difficult, and that a lot of them are very thankful for any help and support they receive after they return home. Many villages also have local clinics where mothers can receive in-person support.
Like many breastfeeding advocates, Deanna’s personal experiences, both positive and negative, fuel her desire to help other mothers.
“I was previously a WIC participant and currently still am,” she shares. “My motivation to do this work came from having had problems breastfeeding my oldest of 2 children, getting help from WIC to continue providing breast milk via pumping, and then succeeding very well with my second who is now 4.5 years old and still breastfeeds. My desire to help those in the same way I was helped, paired with that it’s something I was passionate about was my main motivation to get my certification as a Certified Lactation Counselor.”
In the future, Deanna plans to remain a breastfeeding advocate in any community she finds herself in, and to possibly become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Congratulations, Deanna, on your inspiring work! We wish you the best!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), 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).