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Congratulations to Washington’s Immunization Award Winners!

Every other year, the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington (IACW) recognizes people and organizations in our state that are truly going above and beyond to protect our communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, we presented the awards at a special coalition meeting on April 20, during National Infant Immunization Week.

The 2016 IACW Collaborator award goes to the Auburn School District School Nurses, represented by Jan Schneider, Jill Olson, and Tami Petrina. Together with the district’s health technicians, they reduced the number of students in their district who were out of compliance (meaning their immunization paperwork wasn’t submitted properly) by two-thirds, from 852 to 295. These numbers represent countless hours spent researching immunization records and contacting students, parents, guardians, and health care providers. In one example of how far-reaching this work can be, when one student visited their health care provider to catch up on their immunizations, they also received a much needed eye exam and glasses. Thank you, Jan, Jill, Tami, and your colleagues for your hard work to ensure that Auburn’s students are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Neil Kaneshiro, IACW Chair, with Becky Doughty of Spokane Public Schools

Neil Kaneshiro, IACW Chair, with Becky Doughty of Spokane Public Schools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our 2016 IACW Advocate is Becky Doughty, Health Services Coordinator of Spokane Public Schools. She has worked diligently to coordinate, review, and update immunization records for each student in her district – a total of 35,000! Working closely with school staff, Becky achieved a decrease in kindergarten out of compliance rates from 24.6% to 0.9%. Additionally, she supported the development of pop-up clinics to provide immunizations to students in schools. In addition to her work in schools, Becky is founder and director of the Inland Northwest Transitional Respite Program, which provides shelter-based respite care to men and women experiencing homelessness. Typically, medical respite care involves acute and post-acute care for those too ill to recover on the streets, but Becky has ensured that preventive measures, including vaccines, also reach this very vulnerable population. She also implemented a program to ensure that all staff at the Respite Program are fully up to date with hepatitis B and influenza vaccines.

Neil Kaneshiro, Dr. John Dunn, and Janna Bardi of the Washington State Department of Health

Neil Kaneshiro, Dr. John Dunn, and Janna Bardi of the Washington State Department of Health

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we partnered with the Washington State Department of Health to recognize Dr. John Dunn as the 2016 CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for Washington. Whether it’s appearing on local news segments, answering colleagues’ questions about vaccines, providing care to patients and their families, or serving on numerous local boards that make decisions about vaccines in the state of Washington, Dr. Dunn steps up to support vaccines. He serves on the Washington Vaccine Association, the Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Vax Northwest Oversight Committee. He also chairs the Immunization Program at Group Health. In these positions, he ensures that policies and practices are in place to keep state immunization levels high. Through his research work at Vax Northwest, Dr. Dunn continues to learn about vaccine hesitancy and apply his findings to his everyday interactions with children and their families.

The work that Jan, Jill, Tami, Becky, and John do every day touches each of us – when we go about our daily lives in a Washington State that is safe from the diseases that vaccines prevent. Personally, I’m grateful for the opportunity we have at WithinReach to collaborate with, support, and recognize such fabulous partners!

Tags: IACW   immunizations   vaccines   Washington state   

MyIR makes accessing immunization records easy

When it comes to immunization records, most of us don’t realize how lucky we are to live in Washington State. When we get vaccinated, our vaccine history usually gets entered into our state’s immunization information system (IIS). This helps healthcare providers and school nurses track vaccine records. When you change healthcare providers, this database eliminates the need to transfer immunization records. Most healthcare providers enter vaccines into the IIS; ask if yours does and encourage them to if they don’t!

Now, you too can access your own and your child’s immunization records online through a portal called MyIR. It’s never been so easy to view and print your immunization records! It’s simple (and free) to sign up. The secure system even allows you to print out a pre-filled Certificate of Immunization Status (CIS), which is the form required for entry to schools and child cares, without an additional visit or call to your healthcare provider. This makes it so much more convenient to provide required immunization records. If your little ones are headed to camp this summer or starting school in the fall, try it out!

I signed up recently, and MyIR showed me that I’m due for a second dose of Hepatitis A vaccine – I got the first dose before some travel last year, and two doses are needed for full protection. Plus, now I’ll know when it’s time for that tetanus booster!

However, there’s one caveat: there may be some vaccines you or your family received that don’t appear on the immunization record in MyIR, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV vaccine is sometimes given by a healthcare provider confidentially. Since MyIR doesn’t know which HPV vaccines were given confidentially or not, all HPV vaccinations are hidden on immunization records in MyIR. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you need a more complete record of your or your family’s immunization history.

You can get started today at https://wa.myir.net/.

Tags: immunizations   myIR   preventable diseases   vaccines   Washington state   

2016 Legislative Summary

Written by Carrie Glover, Senior Policy Manager

At about 11:00pm on March 29th the 2016 legislative session was adjourned. This year was a ‘short session’ that was mostly focused on writing a supplemental budget.

WithinReach did very well this session, including securing funding for an immunization validation tool and a school module within the Immunization Information System (IIS), which was our top priority going into 2016.  It was a great year of working with our partners in Olympia and we made real progress in breaking down barriers that prevent families from living healthy lives.

We also supported some additional issues as they emerged through session, and those also fared very well.  Below is a summary of the outcomes of our top priorities as well as other issues we supported this session that had successful outcomes.

Here is a brief summary of where we landed in the budget for our priorities:

Immunization Validation Tool & School Module within the IIS (budget only)

  • Budget ask: $511,000>
  • Final Amount funded: $511,000

Developmental and Autism Screenings for Medicaid (budget only)

  • Budget ask: Maintain current funding
  • Outcome: No cuts were made to the screenings

HB 1295: Breakfast After the Bell (budget and bill)

  • Bill: Require all high needs schools to offer breakfast after the bell
  • Budget ask: $2.692 million for startup grants
  • Outcome: Unfortunately the Breakfast After the Bell legislation did not pass this year.  Since the bill didn’t pass, the startup grants also were not funded in the final budget

Healthiest Next Generation (budget only)

  • Budget ask: fund staff positions at OSPI & DEL for this initiative
  • Outcome: Unfortunately this was not funded in the final budget

Other issues we supported that were successful:

HB 2877: Expanding SNAP Distribution dates

  • Bill: Expand the distribution dates for SNAP beneficiaries from the 1st through 10th of the month to the 1st through the 20th of the month
  • Budget ask: funding needed to implement the system change
  • Outcome: The bill passed with a great deal of support and $300,000 in funding was included for implementation in the final budget 

HB 2439: Mental health services for children and youth

  • Bill: Increasing access to adequate and appropriate mental health services for children and youth including establishing a workgroup to identify barriers in accessing mental health services, report on the status of access to services, expand the Partnership Access Line (PAL), and require coverage for annual depression screenings according to the Bright Future guidelines
  • Budget ask: funding needed for implementation of the workgroup, inventory of services, expansion of the PAL line, and the depression screenings.
  • Outcome: The bill passed, though with only the workgroup and inventory of services.  The PAL line was funded in the final budget even though it wasn’t included in the final bill.  Unfortunately the depression screenings weren’t funded or included in the bill.

SB 5143: Childhood Immunization Resources

  • Bill: Requires DOH to develop resources for expecting parents about recommended childhood immunizations.
  • Outcome: This bill passed with a great deal of support and some of our WithinReach staff were able to be at the bill signing with Governor Inslee.

 

Learn more about the guiding principles of our policy work.

 

 

Tags: Breakfast After the Bell   Developmental Screening   food stamps   immunizations   SNAP   vaccines      Washington state   

Beyond Open Enrollment: Qualifying Life Events

Updated & Written by Emma Lieuwen, AmeriCorps Program Lead 4/25/2017

You may have heard that the Open Enrollment Period for health insurance closed on January 31st. You might be wondering if you can still get health insurance. The answer is yes, but only if you have a Qualifying Life Event before the next Open Enrollment Period. We’re here to break it down for you and help you figure out your next steps.

What counts as a Qualifying Life Event?

Adding a Dependent

  • Marriage
  • Birth
  • Adoption
  • Foster Care
  • Receipt of a court order (including child support)

Loss of Other Health Coverage

  • Expiration of a non-calendar year health insurance policy (even if you have the option to renew)
  • Loss of pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage
  • Beginning or ending service in AmeriCorps, VISTA, or NCCC
  • Loss of Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI)
  • Loss of Washington Apple Health (Medicaid)
  • Loss of a Qualified Health Plan due to permanent move

Did you know?

You can enroll in a plan up to 60 days before or after the loss of other coverage. But, be sure to wait until the month your other coverage will end so you don’t have a month of overlapping coverage.

Permanent Move

If you move and become a resident of Washington or move to a new county in Washington that results in new plan options.

Did you know?

A permanent move to Washington State is only a qualifying event if you had minimum essential coverage for at least one day within the 60 days before you moved?

Change in Citizenship or Lawful Presence Status

If you become a citizen, national, or lawfully present individual, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Did you know?

Those with tribal membership (American Indian or Alaska Native), may enroll in a QHP or change from one QHP to another once a month (and access other benefits)!

Release from Jail/Prison

If you have at least one individual on an application that changes status from incarcerated to no longer incarcerated you may be able to open a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for coverage.

Special Enrollment Periods Only Available to Existing Customers

If you already have an account on WAHealthPlanFinder and are enrolled in a plan you can report the following events to open up a Special Enrollment Period to change your plan. You cannot get a Special Enrollment Period with the following events if you are a first time applicant.

Losing a Dependent or Dependent Status

Including:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Legal Separation

Filed or Reconciled Taxes

If you received tax credits in the previous year, you must have correctly filed a tax return even if you do not usually have to file taxes. If you do not file a tax return and reconcile the tax credit you received, you will lose the opportunity to receive a tax credit until the IRS has confirmed that you have filed your federal taxes.

Change in Income

If your income changes, you could lose or gain eligibility for (or change the amount of) health insurance premium tax credits (help paying your monthly premium).

If any of these happen, be sure to report the changes on Washington Healthplanfinder. You can find more information about Qualifying Life Events here.

Did you know?

If your income is below a certain amount, you may qualify for Washington Apple Health. If this is the case, you don’t have to wait for an Open Enrollment Period– you can sign up any time!

Don’t know where to start or what you qualify for? Give the Family Health Hotline a call at (800) 322-2588!

Tags: Family Health Hotline   health insurance   Health insurance enrollment   qualifying life event   Special Enrollment Period   Washington Apple Health   Washington HealthPlanFinder   Washington state   

Estoy inscrito en Washington Apple Health ¿Qué sigue?

Traducido del blog original escrito por Maritza Cazares, Especialista Bilingüe en Inscripciones & Asistencia Social.
Si usted ha solicitado un seguro de salud y está recibiendo cobertura médica por medio de Washington Apple Health (también conocido como Medicaid)  se ha de estar preguntando ¿qué sucede después? Nosotros tenemos las respuestas a algunas de las preguntas más comunes que hemos estado oyendo de personas llamando a nuestra Línea de Salud Familiar.
Tengo seguro por medio de Washington Apple Health. ¿Qué pasa ahora?
¡Felicidades! Casi dos semanas después de inscribirse usted recibirá una tarjeta de servicios azul (también conocida como la tarjeta ProviderOne) en el correo. Conserve bien a esta tarjeta, ya que comprueba que usted está inscrito en Washington Apple Health y querrá mostrarla para sus citas al doctor y para recoger recetas.No es necesario activar su tarjeta, ya que su cobertura y la tarjeta estarán activas el día después de su inscripción. La tarjeta se ve así:

providerone

 

 

 

 

 

Dentro de un mes de inscribirse en Washington Apple Health, también recibirá una tarjeta blanca con el nombre de su plan de salud, que es la compañía de seguros por la cual recibirá su cuidado médico.

He oído a gente hablar de ProviderOne. ¿Qué es ProviderOne?

ProviderOne es el sistema computarizado que coordina sus planes de salud también conocido como “Managed Care”, que están disponibles bajo Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) . Si usted está inscrito en Apple Health, usted puede manejar su cobertura a través del Portal del Cliente ProviderOne . Los proveedores de salud también pueden utilizar el Portal del Cliente ProviderOne para comprobar y ver si está inscrito en Washington Apple Health.

Han pasado dos semanas y no he recibido mi tarjeta ProviderOne. ¿Qué debería hacer?

Si usted no ha recibido su tarjeta dos semanas después de que se haya inscrito, puede llamar a servicio al cliente por medio de línea de la Autoridad de Salud al 1-800-562-3022. La buena noticia es que todavía puede ir al médico y recoger las recetas antes de tener sus tarjetas. Usted sólo tendrá que ir a una clínica o farmacia que acepte Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) y su plan de salud. La clínica o farmacia puede buscar su Identificación de cliente ProviderOne sin la tarjeta y le preguntaran por su nombre, fecha de nacimiento y número de seguro social.

¿Cómo puedo saber a qué plan de salud me he inscrito?

Después de entregar su solicitud de Washington Apple Health usted tiene la oportunidad de elegir en cuál de los seis planes de atención administrada desea inscribirse.  Si usted no sabe en qué plan desea inscribirse, no se preocupe; se le asignará un plan automáticamente durante la noche del día en que su solicitud es recibida, sin embargo,  usted puede cambiar su plan si resulta que no es el que desea.

También recibirá un libro Medico de Beneficios llamado Healthy Options, con información sobre sus beneficios y planes disponibles en su área. También puede ver esta publicación como un archivo PDF.

¿Qué plan de cuidado administrado debería elegir?

Se requiere que todos los planes de cuidado administrado proporcionen un conjunto de servicios básicos, por lo que a la hora de elegir un plan de atención administrada puede ser útil tener dos cosas en cuenta:

●    ¿Qué planes acepta su médico?

  • Algunos médicos aceptan algunas coberturas de Washington Apple Health de cuidado administrado y otros no. Por lo tanto, es importante que llame a su médico o clínica para ver primero si aceptan Washington Apple Health, y si es así, qué planes de cuidado administrado toman.

●    Beneficios Adicionales

  • Además de los servicios básicos ofrecidos por todos los planes de atención médica administrada, los planes también proporcionan beneficios únicos adicionales que pueden ayudarle a tomar su decisión.

¿Cómo puedo cambiar los planes?

Hay maneras diferentes en las que usted puede cambiar los planes de cuidado administrado. Usted puede acceder a su ProviderOne Portal del Cliente, por correo o fax (1-866-668-1214) el formulario de registro incluido en el folleto de beneficios médicos Healthy Options, o llame a línea de Apple Health de Servicio al Cliente (1-800-562-3022).

¿Puedo seguir viendo a los mismos proveedores de atención médica con mi nuevo plan?

Su proveedor de atención médica sólo podrá aceptar ciertos planes de cuidado administrado, aunque generalmente aceptan Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Llame a su médico para ayudar a determinar cuál es el plan que elegirá.

También puede llamar a su plan de atención administrada o visite su sitio web para obtener una lista de proveedores de cuidado de la salud en su área.

Tags: ACA   Affordable Care Act   health insurance   Washington Apple Health   Washington Health Benefit Exchange   Washington HealthPlanFinder   Washington state   

Top Ten Ways to Be A Positive Voice For Vaccines!

Adapted from our colleagues at Immunize Nevada, here are some tips for expressing your gratitude for vaccines in Washington State.
1. Join the Immunity Community. If you live in Bellingham, Spokane, North Kitsap, South Snohomish, or Thurston Counties, become a Parent Advocate at your child(ren)’s school. Learn more and sign up today.
2. Get your flu vaccine. It’s not too late! People who haven’t been vaccinated against flu still have time to get their vaccine before the season reaches its peak in Washington (likely February). Bring along a friend, elderly neighbor, or babysitter to get vaccinated with you! Find a location near you.

3. Get up to date on your own vaccines. Check if you are up to date in MyIR. Haven’t used MyIR yet? Sign up by visiting the Washington State Department of Health’s website and choose Option 1. Once you are in the system, you can print off your recommended immunizations and bring them to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. While you’re at it, check to make sure your kids and your family members are up to date as well.

4. Share your immunization story. Why are you passionate about vaccines? Whether you’ve personally experienced a vaccine preventable disease, or someone you love has been impacted, sharing your story with us to use on our website and social media is a powerful way to be an advocate. Contact us at vaxnw@withinreachwa.org.

5. Get Social. We need people like you to spread positive immunization messages within your social networks. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share our messages and images.

6. Advocate for immunizations to friends and family.  Vaccines aren’t a “taboo” topic – they’re an important part of preventive health. Have the courage to ask family members if they’re up to date on their vaccines, if they got their annual flu vaccine, or if they’re planning to immunize their newborn. And remember, most people fully vaccinate on time. Here’s a great article on how to approach the subject using the HEART method for talking about immunization with friends.

7. Become a member of the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington (IACW). The IACW meets quarterly to learn about and collaborate on a variety of immunization topics. Recent topics have included: HPV prevention, vaccine hesitancy, and global health initiatives. Additionally, there is a monthly newsletter with hot topics, resources, and news articles to keep you up-to-date!  To learn more and become a member, email: vaxnw@withinreachwa.org.

8. Take action. Your help in promoting vaccines in Washington State will help keep our community healthy and decrease the transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases. Sign up for our Immunization Action Alert to be notified when you can lend your voice to advocating for immunizations in Washington.

9. Write a letter to the editor. Let your pro-vaccine stance be known to your community and elected officials. Contact us if you need help with any ideas or templates.

10. Thank an Immunizer. Next time you are at your healthcare provider’s office or the pharmacy, thank an immunizer. These are the people that protect health by vaccinating, and people often forget to thank someone holding a needle!

Tags: IACW   Immunity Community   immunizations   pro-vax   vaccine-preventable diseases   vaccines   Vax Northwest   VaxNW   Washington state   

Learning Our Way Through

Leading a non-profit organization that creates real social impact in the world today is harder than ever. We all work at high speed to keep up with the VUCA world we live in – a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

At WithinReach, we believe in growing leadership capacity from within.  And so, we regularly ask ourselves: what leadership competencies will help us create the greatest impact for the families, and how do we grow them?  A recent blog post by Nancy Winship at the Waldron Group, suggests that to meet the demands of the complicated, ever-changing landscape in which we work, we must be able to ‘learn our way through’ – becoming competent in discernment, resilience, courage, tolerance/respect and above all, self-awareness – the honest assessment of how we show up in our work as leaders, and in which areas we need to grow.

Most non-profit organizations find it hard to devote adequate, if any, resources to leadership development.  We are no different, but we are committed to being different.  We want to ensure that our staff gain the competencies they need to lead successfully in our dynamic world.

Every day, we are learning our way through together…to make the connections WA families need to be healthy.
 

Tags: leadership   nonprofit   Washington state   WithinReach   

Immunization Program: 2015 Reflections & 2016 Opportunities

2015 was a very good year for the Immunization Program at WithinReach.  In our efforts to promote immunization across the lifespan, our program grew substantially and we widened our scope of work.  We have forged dozens of new relationships and our statewide reach and collaboration is particularly strong.
As we enter 2016, I’d like to first call out a few of our greatest successes from 2015:

  • We welcomed Jessica Broz, Immunization Coordinator, to our team.  Jessica has been a wonderful addition, supporting all of the work we do with skill and a thoughtful approach.
  • The Pink Book Conference, which the Immunization Team hosted in September, was a sold-out event that brought together 450+ colleagues from around the state to learn, network, and strengthen relationships.
  • The Immunity Community, our program that engages parents as immunization-positive advocates in the spaces where their children spend time, expanded into a truly statewide program, with active communities in Spokane, Thurston, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Whatcom Counties.
  • We developed an HPV educational webinar for healthcare providers.  This webinar shares the latest communication science around vaccines and encourages a strong HPV vaccine recommendation and has been taken by over 700 healthcare providers.
  • WithinReach began hosting the HPV Task Force, a collective of partners statewide that are convening to collaborate on promoting HPV vaccine uptake and series completion.

And in 2016, we look forward to:

  • The continued expansion of the Immunity Community.
  • Re-energizing the Vax Northwest work with healthcare providers, hopefully developing a new research project focused on provider-parent communication.
  • Learning more about what drives parent decision-making about vaccines in Washington State, and where we might best intervene through focus groups across the state.
  • Extending the stellar work of our Spokane Regional Health District partners to provide mobile immunization clinics and other tools to improve immunization record-keeping statewide.
  • Restructuring the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington’s committees to better align with needs in the state.
  • Connecting with current and new partners to promote HPV vaccine uptake.

To the exceptional Immunization Team at WithinReach, thank you for being so proactive and skilled in producing work of an outstanding caliber.  To all of our partners with whom we collaborate on these successes, thank you for your great work independently and with us!

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year!

Tags: Community Health   HPV vaccine   Immunity Community   Immunization Action Coalition of Washington   immunizations   preventable diseases   vaccines   Washington state   WithinReach   

Community power in Central Washington

In my previous blog entry, I wrote of the importance of community for individuals and families who experience a special need or special health care need. To follow up on that topic, I’d like to explore a little bit about what components we can look for or cultivate in creating and sustaining community.  As a parent and a professional, something that I often find myself doing is looking for existing strengths as an opportunity to build community.  For a child, this strength might be a hobby or game, such as Minecraft: that’s definitely something kids can come together around!  For a community, an existing strength might be a fantastic parks system or even a parent network.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time in the beautiful Central Washington city of Moses Lake as part of a state-wide series of trainings for primary care providers and community outreach professionals for our work with children and youth with special health care needs. These trainings are in collaboration with the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. During my visit to Moses Lake, I found a great deal of community strengths for positive child development! From Birth to Three, to Family Services, to Integrated Services, to Inspire, there are many local resources available to families.  It was wonderful to see how these agencies work together to support a community of families and the people they interact with, such as teachers, home visitors, speech and occupational therapists, support groups, recreation groups, and medical providers.
One community member that I had the great pleasure of meeting is Deborah McVay, also known as the Library Lady.  In her outreach role with the North Central Regional Library, she has been facilitating connections between families and agencies for over 20 years over several counties in Central Washington.  She has a wealth of long-term community knowledge that helps strengthen the families she works with, and in turn strengthens the community.  It is an important mutual relationship, especially in a region where communities and individuals can be less connected geographically. Deborah bridges that distance with her outreach.  She also works as a liaison between families who are new to the language and region, and helps them prepare their children for school.When I asked her what she thinks makes her work so successful, she answered

“Families trust me, they know me.  I might come for story time and also show them how to help their kids become more ready for kindergarten.  For example, if they are making chili for dinner, I encourage them to cut out pictures from the newspaper to make a grocery list that their children can participate in.”

In this very accessible way, Deborah is finding the existing strengths in her families and fostering tools for early literacy.

Another example of individuals acting as community liaisons are the proprietors of the Red Door café. The Red Door is a welcoming space for the community at large, as well as a space for groups such as Parent to Parent and the Down Syndrome Society of Grant County to gather and build individual, family and community strength. In my conversation with co-owner Lisa Boorman, I learned about how the community has grown over the years in terms of what families can access for support, and how some of the larger structures such as the School District and the Boys and Girls Club are becoming more inclusive of ability diverse kids and families.

Afterward, while riding the public bus through town, I learned from the bus driver/informal tour guide about the newly built Community Services Office and all the important services that individuals and families can access under one roof: food benefits, developmental disabilities administration, financial assistance, and more. It was a great example of how something that could be perceived as a challenge – a smaller town with less infrastructure than bigger cities – is actually a strength. The tight knit network of community members and service providers within this rural community facilitates a feeling of no wrong door. Whether you are at the library, school, pediatrician, café, and yes, even on the bus, the chances are good that someone knows how to get you connected to support.

When a community comes together in solidarity and support of its members with special needs, everybody benefits.  As this season of gratitude and generosity begins, let’s try to think about how we can connect with our community in a more intentional way and create space for all families to succeed.

Tags: Child Development   Community Health   families   Washington state   

Stand up for breastfeeding moms

Guest blog written by Dr. Jody Cousins

As a physician who provides obstetrical and newborn care, I have some control over the messages that my new mothers hear while in the hospital. Fortunately, I also have the ability to write orders which limit formula use for medical reasons only. Nurses can call me, and as a lactation consultant I can also stage appropriate and baby-friendly interventions.

However, many dietitians, community-based healthcare staff, and breast-feeding advocates do not routinely provide in-hospital care. I can only imagine how difficult it is to know that your patients and clients, whom you have worked so hard to educate and prepare for motherhood, may be exposed to contradictory messages about breastfeeding at such a vulnerable time.

As breast-feeding advocates, we hear messages about the potential consequences of just a single bottle of formula, but we have little ability to stop that single feeding at the times when that influence is most needed. However, I do think that there are many important points to remember with regard to breast-feeding promotion in the outpatient setting.

First, in the age of social media, it is important to remember that our clients and patients often turn to the Internet for guidance. Therefore, I would strongly recommend that as breast-feeding advocates we identify hospitals, physicians, midwives, internet groups, and web sites which consistently provide (and demand) baby friendly neonatal care, and make those comments in those places where our patients will see them. For example, does a medical clinic or hospital have a Facebook page? Make comments EVERY TIME you hear of a patient who had a good breastfeeding experience. We can help our patients select providers and hospitals which align with their goals, and OUR goals. Get the word out where our clients are looking.

In addition, as outside-hospital providers, I encourage you to put pressure on in-hospital staff to provide the quality of care that we expect. Perhaps it may be a phone call to a physician or midwife, or the director of the birth center at a hospital, to inquire as to why a patient, or several patients, may have received formula. The specific answer may not be available, or may be limited by HIPPA compliance, but it does demonstrate a vested interest in the well-being of our most vulnerable. Perhaps it may be an annual visit to a local medical clinic to explain the outsides services available to physicians that YOU provide. Consider also giving physicians, midwives, nurses, and in-hospital staff the appreciation that they deserve in very public ways. Never underestimate the value of personal contact. Market breastfeeding. Be deliberate and methodical.

Finally, I would encourage outside providers to discuss with their clients and patients the consequences of registering on various pregnancy and baby related websites and on in-store gift registries. The formula industry, as we all know, aggressively markets to our audience. We need to prepare our mothers for an inundation of formula-related material and samples. We need to tell them that it is OKAY to throw those samples and coupons away. They do not need to maintain a supply “just in case.” We need them to know that formula companies are unfairly playing to their insecurities at a time when they are most vulnerable. We need them to know that WE believe they can nurse their babies, and that they WILL make enough milk. We need to restore their confidence in themselves.

 

jodycousins

 

Dr. Jody Cousins is a family medicine and obstetric care physician at Fidalgo Medical Associates in Anacortes, WA.  She is a member of the  Skagit Breastfeeding Coalition and the recipient of the 2015 Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington MaryAnn O’Hara, MD Physician Leadership Award.

 

 

Tags: baby friendly hospital   Breastfeeding   Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington   Breastfeeding support   Dr. Jody Cousins   lactation consultant   Washington state   

Big transitions are tough–reach out for help!

Written by Joi Huie, Outreach & Enrollment Specialist
Fall is upon us! While retailers are pushing us to think about pumpkin-spice everything, many of us have our minds on the increasing heat bill, and the grocery budget. This was the case for Aaron, who submitted a request for food assistance on our ParentHelp123 website over the weekend. On Monday morning I received Aaron’s request. I didn’t know what his circumstances were, but I was prepared to call and do a quick screening over the phone to let Aaron know if he might be eligible for a few different assistance programs and connect him to food resources.

Around noon I gave Aaron a call because he mentioned that he was available for contact during his lunch hour. Once we were on the phone, I quickly found out that he and his wife were new parents and newly on a single income. His wife had taken extended leave to stay at home with their baby for the first few months. I also learned that this new dad was a full time student at the local technical college. This family was undergoing a lot of big changes at once, and I could tell that they were overwhelmed. Aaron let me know that they didn’t plan on needing assistance for very long – just a little help during this new transition period. After the brief screening, it appeared that Aaron’s household was likely eligible for Basic Food, Washington’s food assistance program. He was interested in pursuing Basic Food benefits so we took a few more minutes and completed the application together over the phone.

Amidst this new, exciting time in their lives Aaron and his wife found some financial stress. Aaron mentioned that with the single income they would really have to keep an eye on their expenses. He wanted to mitigate some of the challenges that would come with supporting his family on tight budget: “I don’t want to have to choose between money for gas and money for food, you know?” Aaron made it clear that one area of expenditure he did not want to worry about was proper nutrition for his family.

It can be difficult discussing “money problems” or financial instability, let alone conveying that you may be facing food insecurity. Aaron admitted that it was tough to even acknowledge a need, but he was open to receiving information about local resources and finding out if Basic Food was an option for his family. Basic Food and programs like it exist to help people when they are vulnerable— at WithinReach, we all believe that people like Aaron should never have to worry about how to put food on the table.

Our team is extremely knowledgeable about Washington’s Basic Food program and eligibility criteria. We’re happy to walk you through the process of applying for Basic Food. We make it simple and streamlined – you can complete your application over the phone with us, and go to your local DSHS office the very next day for your interview.

To find out if you might be eligible for Basic Food, call our Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or check out our Benefit Finder.

Tags: Basic Food   benefit programs   Family Health Hotline   food   food stamps   ParentHelp123   Washington state   WithinReach   

Promoting a healthy Washington: the Pink Book Course

Last month, more than 450 health professionals gathered at the Pink Book Course in Tacoma, Washington to learn the latest recommendations from the world of immunizations. WithinReach hosted the Pink Book Course, also known as the Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, to provide our front-line clinicians and managers with the latest immunization and vaccine information. The Pink Book Course was brought back by popular demand; the last training in Washington State was hosted by WithinReach in 2011, and the demand is consistent, with each training selling out.This course was packed full of important immunization recommendations. Vaccine experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented material over two days covering every vaccine-preventable disease and the vaccine used to prevent it. The Pink Book gets its name from the actual 400+ page pink book, weighing over 2 ½ pounds, which contains all of the material covered during the training.
The training draws professionals from many fields including medical assistants, nurses, physicians, clinic managers and staff from local and state health departments. Attendees hailed from nearly all Washington counties and at least six other states. Individuals attended to learn from the CDC experts in order to provide precise, accurate immunization care and referrals to their patients. Each disease and vaccine section was followed by the CDC experts answering questions from attendees. These sections gave a clear indication of the need for this information sharing and will undoubtedly result in better care for Washington residents. Vaccine science is a changing field, and keeping up with the latest recommendations can be challenging, which is why WithinReach hosts this training. We are dedicated to making the connections Washington families need to be healthy and the Pink Book Course helps keep our clinicians and public health professionals up-to-date on the latest standards. We are lucky to have dedicated public health professionals in Washington State who take advantage of training opportunities and strive to stay current with emerging information. Washington State’s immunization professionals are unsung heroes preventing diseases from spreading and protecting our most vulnerable residents: the young, the old, and the immunocompromised. Thanks to those that attended the training for working to keep our state free of preventable disease!

Tags: CDC   immunizations   Pink Book Course   preventable diseases   Public Health   vaccines   Washington state   

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