MotherBaby Network

advocacy and commentary with a focus on Lane County, Oregon

Congrats to Friends’ Katharine Gallagher and Midwife Cindy Hunter for Healthy Babies Awards!

Originally posted on Lane County Friends of the Birth Center‘s blog…

Congratulations to the Lane County Healthy Babies 2010 Award Recipients recognized at yesterday’s second-annual reception!

Awards were given to an individual, a practitioner and an organization in acknowledgement of their contributions toward reducing fetal-infant mortality and increasing community health in Lane County. Former KEZI news anchor Rick Dancer served as the master of ceremonies. Dancer encouraged Healthy Babies to use social media to increase its reach. Commissioner Rob Handy and Lane Co. Health and Human Services Rob Rockstroh both emphasized the critical importance of reducing Lane County’s uniquely high rates of fetal and infant mortality.

Individual. Katharine Gallagher, chair of the Lane County Friends of the Birth Center, was recognized in the individual category. Katharine touched on the importance of evidence-based mother- and baby-centered care in improving community outcomes and on the need for ongoing county support for the Healthy Babies initiative. (See Katharine’s comments below)

Katharine Gallagher and Cindy Hunter

Practitoner. Cindy Hunter, former Nurse-Midwifery Birth Center midwife and currently the Nurse Educator for Labor and Delivery at Sacred Heart, was recognized in the practitioner category. Cindy shared her inspiring story about discovering the importance of and ultimately in finding ways to ensure dignified care for women and babies. LaneCoFBC looks forward to its upcoming October 5 fireside chat with Cindy. She will be sharing her recent experiences volunteering in Haiti. (Learn more here.)

Organization. Project FEAT (Family Advocacy and Treatment) coordinators Kristin Funk and Liz Twombly reflected on the lessons learned and insights gained throughout their 5-year project funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to develop policies and procedures for addressing the special needs of substance exposed newborns. Kristin and Liz highlighted the importance of nurturing and protecting mother-child bonds and the power that this connection can have to inspire women to move beyond substance abuse.

In recent weeks, Lane County Healthy Babies, Healthy Communities received the following media attention:

Lane County State’s Top Fetal-Infant Mortality Rate: That rate is prevalent and statistically significant regardless of other factors

ALIVE AND KICKING | County’s infant death rate improves, but could it be better?

EDITORIAL: A gauge of social health | Reduction in fetal-infant death rate encouraging

Healthy Babies initiative helps (letter to the editor, scroll down)

To get involved or for more information about the Healthy Babies initiative, visit www.preventionlane.org. The next Healthy Babies meeting is on October 7 from 8:30 to 10am at Lane County Mental Health.

Following are LaneCoFBC Chair Katharine Gallagher’s comments:

Thank you very much for this award – I am honored by the acknowledgement.

Little did I know that founding Friends of the Birth Center to encourage construction of the new PeaceHealth Nurse Midwifery Birth Center would be the beginning of a genuinely rewarding endeavor. Like all worthwhile efforts, it’s been a joint one from the start.

Practically over night Friends of the Birth Center brought many, many other women, families and community members together. Families with brand new babies and families with kids graduating high school shared their stories. This evening, three founding members who now serve on the Friends’ board join me: Eleanor Vandergrift, Karen Guillemin, Kathy Lynn. Board member Renee Bailey could not attend.

Karen Guillemin, Katharine Gallagher, Kathy Lynn, Eleanor Vandegrift

And a founding Dad – my husband David Wacks as well as a Birth Center grandfather – my dad Mike Gallagher.

Originally seeking to maintain our personal preference for maternity services in a freestanding birth center, we quickly made connections between the holistic, communal and mother-baby focused approach we know so well and the local and national discussions about the power of preventive, evidence-based and cost effective care to dramatically improve maternal- and infant-wellbeing.

A strong link exists between the care we regularly access at the Birth Center and what is needed to increase community-level wellbeing. Early prenatal care regardless of insurance status, regular postpartum opportunities to meet other new parents, and ongoing breastfeeding support that really works – this is the “standard issue” package for anyone walking through the Birth Center’s doors.

As we were making these connections, the Friends group began to learn about our community’s local rates for fetal and infant mortality. We have been moved to view construction of the new Birth Center as one of great importance for the entire community. This is because it is a living laboratory of the kind of care we need to see more of in Lane County. Accordingly, we remain very grateful to PeaceHealth for making the new Birth Center a reality.

Moving forward, I look forward and I know Friends of the Birth Center does, too, to supporting the County’s initial efforts to focus our collective attention and resources on reducing fetal and infant mortality. The most recent statistics show some improvement and I believe that is a credit to the Healthy Babies, Healthy Communities initiative. If we are to continue making progress, ongoing county and community support are necessary.



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