Ge­or­gia’s first lady vis­its New­ton Med­i­cal

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­

San­dra Deal paid her sec­ond visit to the New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter Thurs­day, walk­ing the halls of the birthing unit, meet­ing with its nurses and doc­tors and evening stop­ping in on some of New­ton County’s new­est res­i­dents.

Deal trav­eled from At­lanta to New­ton to tour the NMC’s First Steps pro­gram, talk with par­ents about im­mu­niza­tions and learn about how the hos­pi­tal is utiliz­ing its Safe to Sleep grant.

The First Lady of Ge­or­gia’s first stop was the First Steps Of­fice, where she and Ge­or­gia’s First steps Co­or­di­na­tor Lynda Brown met with NMC’s First Step Co­or­di­na­tor Missy Braden.

First Steps has played an im­por­tant part in the hos­pi­tal’s ef­forts to help bring ed­u­cated healthy ba­bies into New­ton County and the sur­round­ing ar­eas. It’s a pro­gram that en­gages vol­un­teers and pools re­sources from the com­mu­nity to help new moth­ers ed­u­cate them­selves for moth­er­hood.

“Through the first step pro­grams we help to give fam­i­lies a great start in this com­mu­nity,” said First Steps Co­or­di­na­tor Lynda Brown. “This is as good a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the ser­vices that are funded through the state. So we wanted Mrs. Deal to come here and see the ex­cel­lent ser­vices and the chil­dren that have ben­e­fited from these ser­vices.”

NMC’s First Steps pro­gram has av­er­aged 400-500 vis­its a year, with 292 moth­ers vis­it­ing in 2015.

Deal then met with sev­eral fam­i­lies with chil­dren born at NMC that par­tic­i­pated in First Steps and are up to date on all im­mu­niza­tions. Each fam­ily pre­sented Deal with a flower and im­mu­niza­tion card.

Among the fam­i­lies were: Can­dace Baker and chil­dren Car­son, 6, Parker 3 and Hens­ley 8 months, Shauna Cof­felt and 14-month-old Korli Cof­felt, Sara Mathis and Car­son Dur­dent, 3 and Adleigh Mathis, 8 months and Becky Need­ham and 15-month-old Andi Need­ham.

“I’m mainly here try­ing to en­cour­age im­mu­niza­tions,” Deal said. “Im­mu­niza­tions af­fect a lot of us, not just those chil­dren. Hope­fully they will also en­cour­age the rest of the fam­ily to get vac­ci­nated if they’re not.”

The chil­dren Deal met with where born in the halls she trav­eled, stop­ping in on two moth­ers and their new­borns in NMC’s birthing unit. Those vis­its fol­lowed a tour of the Level II Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit, where Deal met with NICU Clin­i­cal Co­or­di­na­tor Robin Slo­man, RN.

Deal and Di­vi­sion of Fam­ily and Chil­dren Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Bobby Ca­gle also stopped by the hos­pi­tal’s Safe to Sleep Dis­play. The Safe to Sleep Cam­paign is part of the In­jury Preven­tion Pro­gram in the Di­vi­sion of Health Pro­tec­tion and Safety.

“He’s on the chil­dren’s cab­i­net with me, and he wanted to come along,” Deal said. “We try to do all the dif­fer­ent things that will pro­tect our chil­dren. We want our chil­dren to grow up healthy and strong.”

In May, NMC was se­lected for the “Safe to Sleep Dis­play” grant, in which an in­fant Pack and Play with an in­fant doll, along with ed­u­ca­tion literature, are used to ed­u­cate par­ents on safe sleep prac­tices.

Ge­or­gia, which av­er­ages three in­fant deaths each week due to sleep-re­lated causes, set up the cam­paign to em­power par­ents and care­givers with the nec­es­sary tools and in­for­ma­tion to best pro­tect their in­fants from tragedy.

Deal con­cluded her visit with a re­cep­tion and photos along­side mem­bers of the hos­pi­tal’s staff and First Step mem­bers.

“That’s my goal, to have the chil­dren grow up safe and strong,” Deal said.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: San­dra Deal vis­its with Missy Braden of the New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter's First Steps pro­gram; Sixyear-old Car­son Baker gives San­dra Deal a flower as his mother Can­dace and 8-month old sis­ter Hens­ley look on; San­dra Deal holds Sa­hara Gar­cia, born a day be­fore her visit, as she talks with mother Yiset Gar­cia Thurs­day; San­dra Deal with New­ton Meed­i­cal Cen­ter RN Robin Slo­man

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