Tips and Resources for Taking Care of Premature Babies from a Local Pediatrician

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November is National Prematurity Awareness Month, a time for families nationwide/in Jackson County to think about the health of expectant mothers and babies, and about how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery. 

According to the March of Dimes, Mississippi has the highest rates of premature births in the U.S. at 13.6%. March of Dimes notes Jackson County is at 10.4%, which is still higher than the national average. Having multiple births also increases the chance of prematurity. March of Dimes also mentions that close to 60 percent of all twins and more than 90 percent of triplets are born prematurely (before 37 weeks). 

Dr. Yolanda Gutierrez of Pascagoula’s Pediatric Care Center is one of the leading and most caring pediatricians on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. After completing her rotations through general medicine, Dr. Gutierrez discovered her passion for working with children and thus completed her internship and residency at the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Over her 25 years in private practice, Dr. Gutierrez has worked with a number of premature babies as her patients. Gutierrez shares some helpful insights on common myths and tips she gives to parents on premature babies and their care.

Myth #1: “Premature babies are the same as average-sized ones- they’re just smaller” 

Many people believe a premature baby can behave the same way an average-sized baby can. They think because they were born early that you just have to be more gentle with them. This is not the case at all. Care for premature babies is much more precise and strict than that of a non-premature infant. 

“Premature babies are born with immature lungs and come out with a number of different problems that have to be addressed not only immediately, but also long term”, says Gutierrez. 

Premature babies are also prone to developing infections because their immune system is not fully developed. 

Myth #2: “Premature babies can be fed like an average child” 

When your baby is first born, the healthcare team may give them fluids and nutrition through an intravenous (IV line) if they are extremely premature or have breathing difficulties. Alternatively, the doctors may decide that they are mature enough to take milk through a small tube that is passed through the nose into the stomach. Breast milk is the best choice for your baby. 

It is important for milk feeds to be introduced in a timely way – not too quickly but not too slowly – and your doctor will have the expertise to decide this. This progression must be very gradual because premature babies – especially those born at 34 weeks or less – are slow to cope with milk that goes into their stomachs and have more problems with absorbing nutrients. “It’s important to advise these parents on correct feeding and determining how much is too much and what exactly is the right amount for their child”, says Dr. Gutierrez. 

Myth #3: “It’s safe for premature babies to be around other people and out in public”

Parents of premature newborns face even more worries about their baby’s health. Due to immature immune systems that haven’t completely developed, preemies have an increased risk of catching viruses that may be nothing more than a nuisance for us, but can be potentially life threatening to them. Some of these risks can be avoided by understanding when it’s safe to head out with your baby or invite visitors over, and when it’s best to stay inside and away from the crowds. 

“They can’t be around other sick kids or adults”, says Gutierrez. “Viral illnesses are a top concern with premature infants and that is one of the main reasons why our clinic has 2 waiting rooms- one for babies and one for general”, she said. “Parents can trust that they don’t have to risk their babies getting sick from other children in the clinic”, said Gutierrez. 

Overall, it’s important for women to take care of their health and nutrition while carrying their child. “Diabetes, high-blood pressure, smoking, drinking and doing drugs are all factors that increase the risk of an early delivery and premature birth”, said Gutierrez. 

The Pediatric Care Center supports local organizations and groups within the community for premature babies. Gutierrez mentions how the clinic often donates to the March of Dimes and participates in fundraising events to help spread awareness and inform the community on premature babies. 

“The care we offer for the parent and child is state of the art in terms of excellent care”, she said. “It’s given with a lot of compassion. All of our staff love these children and have a passion for helping them”, said Gutierrez. The Pediatric Care Center truly believes that it takes a village to raise a child and parents need the combined teamwork of the family and the child’s pediatric clinic. “We want our parents to trust us when it comes to helping raise their children and make them feel like we are also a part of their family”, she said. 

For more information on the Pediatric Care Center, visit their website at pediatriccarectr.net.

 

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Mayfield Family Shares Story of Miracles for Prematurity Awareness Month

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Hanna and Matt Mayfield are familiar faces in Pascagoula, Mississippi. With Matt co-owning ‘Goula’s famous, Tay’s BBQ a lot of people recognize the family name and their deliciously famous menu items. However, they are also known for their survival story of their two little miracles.

November 17 is recognized as World Prematurity Day and serves as the focus of the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Awareness Month observance each year. The Mayfield family relates to this day as they recall the miraculous story of the birth of their premature twin daughters.

In October of 2011, Hanna Mayfield was taken into emergency c-section at USA’s Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Mayfield says there was no explanation as to why she went into labor so early, but prepared to face the reality of giving birth to premature twins. She was only 5 months pregnant at the time, barely mid-way through her 2nd trimester. 

Bowen and Taylor were born at 22 weeks and 5 days and were considered to be ‘micro-premies’- weighing even smaller than a typical premature baby. Bowen weighed 1 pound and Taylor 15.3 ounces. “Their lungs weren’t working like they were supposed to- it was a lot of treatment and things to keep an eye on every hour, every few hours”, says Mayfield. 

But the family decided to remain positive with lots of prayer and trust in the top-rated NICU center at Children’s and Women’s. “Every one of the doctors and nurses at the hospital are angels”, she said. “Being able to do their job with a smile on their face, while helping these parents is incredible”, says Mayfield. In fact, USA’s NICU center is one of the only local hospitals to give babies born before 24 weeks a chance to survive by putting them on a ventilator. “If we lived in any other city, we may have not been accepted into a hospital to keep our babies alive”, she said. The babies remained in the NICU for the next few months, with Taylor having additional complications and surgeries which kept her there for a total of 7 months. 

The challenge of having premature babies doesn’t stop at the hospital. After bringing the girls home, Matt and Hanna were given strict schedules and guidelines to follow to ensure they were being taken care of properly and would remain healthy. Parents of premature babies have to take caution when bringing them home due to their low immune system. “We couldn’t go out in public and they advised against bringing people around our babies”, said Hanna. “They even told us, ‘If you go out to the grocery store and come back, you have to shower and change clothes before you can even hold your baby'”, she said. The family had to be conscious of every move they made to ensure the girls’ health remained in good state. 

After many routine checkups, the girls caught up to their appropriate weight and grew to become wonderfully excelled children. The twins recently celebrated their 6th birthday last month. “They’re healthy, thriving in school, running around and taking dance lessons-perfectly normal little girls”, said Mayfield. “We could have easily had many difficulties with the girls, but we were fortunate they grew up without any problems”, she said. “I think it’s just being aware of germs, being mindful of their low immune systems and sticking to the plan the nurses and doctors give you is the reason for it”, says Hanna. 

According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 10 women will give birth to a premature child. Like the Mayfield family, many women, including those in Jackson County, will face the difficulty of having premature children. “It’s very easy to get down and depressed that you can’t hold your premature baby like an average-sized one”, says Hanna. But she encourages families who are facing this, “Keep your chin up, stay positive, pray and get your prayer warriors around you”, she said. 

For more information on World Prematurity Day or the March of Dimes, visit their website

 

 

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Chevron Achieves Gold Recognition for Workplace Health from American Heart Association

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Scientific, evidenced-based instrument rates, recognizes workplace health programs and workforce heart health

(PASCAGOULA, MS) – The 2017 results of the American Heart Association Workplace Health Achievement Index were announced on October 20th. In Jackson County, MS, the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula was recognized with the Index’s highest rating (Gold) for taking significant steps to build a culture of health in the workplace. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, created the Index with its CEO Roundtable members, a leadership collaborative of more than 30 CEOs from some of America’s largest companies who are committed to applying evidence-based approaches to improve their employees’ overall health. 

Chevron was recognized by the American Heart Association for excellence in workplace wellness at the first-ever 2017 IMIA/Craft & Technical Solutions Wellness Symposium and took place on Friday, October 27 at 9 a.m. at the Pascagoula Senior Center (1912 Live Oak Ave. Pascagoula, MS 39567). 

The Index uses science-based best practices to evaluate the overall quality and comprehensiveness of their workplace health programs. A unique feature of the Index is that it calculates an average heart health score for employees of participating companies that securely submit aggregate health data.

More than 800 companies completed the Index assessment this year and, of those companies, 67% received either Gold, Silver, or Bronze recognition. Companies receive benchmarking reports, which allow them to identify potential areas of improvement so that they can advance their annual performance and recognition.

“The American Heart Association is building a culture of health and well-being throughout the country, and on behalf of the Association, we congratulate Chevron and thank them for their efforts in cultivating healthier workplaces and communities,” said Ashleigh Gaddy, Jackson County Director for the American Heart Association.

The Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index allows companies to measure the effectiveness of their workplace health programs, as well as the overall heart health of their employees. Unlike other existing organizational scorecards, the Index also scores companies on the heart health of their employees based on Life’s Simple 7® – the Association’s scientifically validated definition of ideal heart health. The key factors contributing to optimal heart health include smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, managing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and keeping blood sugar at a healthy level.

Scientific research shows that improving these seven factors can lead to significant reductions in heart disease, stroke, cancer, and many other health problems. In addition, people who achieve ideal cardiovascular health by age 50 have a significantly lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and live, on average, approximately 10 years longer than people with two or more risk factors. 

The American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index assessment is grounded in data-driven science, and a quality improvement framework. According to the Nielsen 2016 Employee Health Survey, robust and comprehensive strategies for well-being are associated with positive impacts on employees’ health.

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Moss Point Celebrates Being Named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown”

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The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation named the City of Moss Point “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown” and presented the City with a $50,000 grant award during a celebration held Friday, October 20 at the Riverfront Community Center. The celebration included a “Self Care Expo” with healthy food and exercise demonstrations, free health screenings and a farmers market. Vendors were on hand to check blood pressure, demonstrate CPR techniques and distribute disaster preparedness supplies.

“We are so excited to partner with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation to better our residents’ health,” said Mayor Mario King.  The City will use the $50,000 grant to further efforts toward improving community health by promoting walking, bicycling and outdoor exercise.

The City of Moss Point was named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown,” while the cities of Meridian and Hernando and the Town of Mantachie received Healthy Hometown honors. Moss Point, which was previously a Healthy Hometown winner in 2014, received a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to support its ongoing wellness initiatives. Meridian, Hernando and Mantachie will each receive $25,000 to further their own wellness efforts. Hernando was also a previous winner in the Healthy Hometown Awards program, having been named “Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown” in 2010. Meridian and Mantachie are both first time honorees. 

The Healthy Hometown Awards Program was established in 2010 to encourage healthy lifestyles at the community level while providing financial incentives to the cities and towns that have demonstrated the most progress. Healthy Hometown winning municipalities are chosen based on select criteria, including being tobacco-free communities, the promotion and support of community exercise, community-wide opportunities for healthy nutrition and supporting healthy learning environments in schools. Since 2010, the Foundation has provided $700,000 to support Healthy Hometown winners. 

“We are proud of Moss Point’s continued leadership in creating healthy places to live, learn and work,” said Sheila Grogan, Executive Director of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “We encourage other communities around the state to be part of our collective efforts to build a healthy Mississippi.”

Healthy Hometown applications are evaluated by a panel of distinguished health and wellness champions from Mississippi and around the country. Judges for the 2017 Healthy Hometown Awards Program were: Sue Polis, Director of the National League of Cities, located in Washington D.C. Polis manages the health and wellness portfolio for the Institute of Youth, Education, and Families; Paula Little, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent and Supervisor of Instruction for the Clinton County School District in Kentucky. She also established the Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition; and Robert J. Gates, Project Director for the Trinity Educators Development Corporation, based in the Mississippi Delta, providing assistance to small and limited resource farmers. He also works collaboratively with community consultants to improve health and wellness in the Delta. 

To learn more about the Healthy Hometown Awards Program and this year’s winners, visit the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation’s website at www.healthiermississippi.org.

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Moss Point Church Aims to Create Healthier Community

It’s no surprise that the people of Mississippi face issues with obesity and their health. In fact, Mississippi has the second highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America released August 2017.

But one church in Moss Point is hoping to change that and get the people of Jackson County to make better choices for their health and spirituality. 

Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist Church has created a 13 week program, in coordination with Health Ministries, to hold a series of seminars focused on a variety of topics to help the people of Jackson County achieve their best physical and mental state. 

The program started on Sunday, September 17 and is available to the community free of charge.

“We want to share with residents the importance of making healthy decisions. And by educating and giving out the correct information will lead to people thinking critically about the choices they make”, says Pastor David Jones. 

The church plans to feature classes for a variety of topics concerning health and being properly informed about it. The schedule for these classes are as follows:

Monday’s: Cooking classes at 5:30

Wednesday’s: Covering subjects, such as friendship and cancer

Friday’s: Discussing topics, such as obesity and healthy exercising

For Pastor Jones, working together will help the more than 100 people in the program spread the word of healthy living to the rest of the community.

“Here in Moss Point, we’re a family, a community, and we are here to help one another and to educate people where they can live longer,” Jones said.

For more information on how to attend programs at the church, you can call 228-460-5355 or visit their website at ebenezer36.adventistchurchconnect.org.

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MGCCC Jackson County Campus Hosts Health Fair and 5K Run

FINAL-JC-Health-Fair-9-20-17-1024x444 MGCCC Jackson County Campus Hosts Health Fair and 5K Run

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jackson County Campus will host a health fair on September 20, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., in the campus gymnasium.  Those who visit all stations at the fair will receive a prize.

During the fair, information will be available on behavioral health, neurology, addiction, family planning and unplanned pregnancy prevention, smoking cessation, Zika virus, cancer, dental, weight loss, and the Mercy Housing and Human Development organization.  Tests will be available for fitness, BMI and body fat percentages, blood pressure, and sexually transmitted infection. STI/STD counseling will also be available. 

As September is Unplanned Pregnancy Awareness Month at MGCCC, Medical Analysis will be providing important facts and statistics as well as other information on unplanned pregnancy. 

“Studies show that more than 60 percent of community college students who become pregnant after enrolling in college do not finish their degree,” said Karin Ford, clinical consultant with Medical Analysis. “Even students who already have children find college challenging, since they have to find suitable childcare and must deal with the financial complication of having a family and attending school.  Our encouragement for students is to ‘Create a better life before creating life.’” 

Medical Analysis will provide a variety of information on unplanned pregnancy, birth control options and sexually transmitted infections.

Following the fair, there will be a weight-room orientation at 2 p.m. upstairs in the gym and the annual De-Stress to Success 5K Run, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Main Campus Drive.  Certificates will be given for first through fifth places.

For more information on the health fair or the 5K run, contact Ray Bigelow, coordinator of Wellness and Recreation, 228.497.7735 or ray.bigelow@mgccc.edu.

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Volunteers Walk to Fight Heart Disease

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Nearly 50 volunteers from Chevron spent a Saturday morning raising money and awareness for heart disease at the 2017 Jackson County Heart Walk on March 18.

One member of the Chevron team has even had heart disease affect him personally.

“In 2007, I lost my mother to heart disease,” said Maintenance Team Leader Chris Cochran. “My father has heart disease, and I was diagnosed with heart disease in 2013. From that time, it has become important to eat right and exercise.”

Roughly one in every four deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease, so money raised from events like the heart walk goes toward saving thousands of lives every year.

“The Heart Walk is important to me to show even if you have heart disease, you can be very active,” Cochran said.

With 45 participants, the Chevron team raised $2,500 at the Heart Walk.

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Chevron Volunteers Support Relay for Life

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More than 20 Chevron employees, friends, and family gathered at the St. Martin High School Stadium on April 28 to participate in Relay for Life. This year, the Chevron Team raised $4,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Thank you to Chevron Relay for Life event team leaders Elizabeth Swinney and Sondra Hilton-Boney, along with everyone who supported this important cause. Nearly $16,000 was raised by the entire event.

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Singing River Health System Creates Healthy Program Guide for Jackson County

It’s no surprise that Mississippi is known for its high rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. In fact, Mississippi ranks 2nd for the highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America
 
Singing River Health System seized an opportunity to aid in improving the health of their patients and the members of Jackson County. Therefore, Singing River created a new program, Healthy Selection, which is aimed to encourage the citizens of Jackson County to choose the healthier option when dining out.
 
The purpose of the program is to feature a healthy meal choice from each of your favorite restaurants along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Each featured dish will be certified as a ‘Healthy Selection’ by Singing River Health System to meet the following criteria:
  • 550 calories or less
  • 20 grams of fat or less
  • 600 milligrams of sodium or less 

These guidelines follow the American Heart Association and US Dietary Guidelines standards for a flexible, yet healthy meal. 

“Our goal for this program is for anyone to walk into any of the many restaurants Jackson County has to offer and have a healthy option at their fingertips; something that is handpicked by Singing River Health System specifically for its nutritional value”, says Singing River’s Marketing Associate, Lauren McDavid.

The program is currently in the midst of launching and seeking restaurant partners in Jackson County to feature their signature ‘Healthy Selection’ meal.

There is no cost in becoming a partner. Each restaurant will not only have a Healthy Selection ‘plaque’ or signage of some sort to display the healthy selection(s) they offer, but will also be featured in the Singing River Healthy Selection Guide that will be distributed to all patients, employees, and throughout all of Jackson County. All of the ‘Healthy Selection’ partners will also be included in Singing River’s Healthy Selection social media posts and on their website: singingriverhealthsystem.com.

Singing River Health System hopes that this program will educate restaurant owners within the county and make healthy changes to their menu to improve the nutritional value of their meals.

“We believe a major change starts with small changes first, and we want to help change the health of our citizens for the better”, states McDavid. 

To become a Healthy Selection Partner Restaurant, contact Lauren McDavid, Marketing Assistant, at (228)-239-2315 or Lauren.McDavid@mysrhs.com.

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Singing River Medical Clinic Pascagoula Now Serving Patients Seven Days a Week

Singing River Health System’s Pascagoula Medical Clinic has announced new hours to serve patients seven days a week.   The clinic, located on Highway 90 next to Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, is now open for appointments or walk-in visits as follows:
 
Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday:  8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday:  10:00 am – 4:00 pm
 
The clinic is staffed by seven physicians and nurse practitioners along with their support staff to treat everything from acute to chronic conditions for children and adults. Jason Ely, Director of Primary Care Services for the health system, notes that the new hours will better serve the Pascagoula community. “As a community health provider, making our team available whenever they’re needed most is a priority, be it for an earache, a fever, or chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. We invite everyone to come out and see us,” he said. 
 
More information on the clinic is available at https://www.singingriverhealthsystem.com/clinics/pascagoula/ or by calling 228-762-3466.
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