Nov 072012
 

The most recent North Carolina infant mortality numbers are causing a stir. The rate rose slightly in 2011, just one year after the state achieved its lowest rate ever.
 
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported last week that the infant mortality rate reached 7.2 in 2011, up from 7.0 in 2010. This means 7.2 babies died for every 1,000 born alive.
 
The increase is just under 3 percent, but any upswing is unacceptable.
 
Data also shows eastern North Carolina’s infant mortality rate holding steady despite sharp increases in other regions. This is encouraging news for our area. Even so, our rate of 8.1 is still 12 percent higher than the state average.
 
Many factors contribute to infant mortality risk, including race, income and access to prenatal care. 
 
The three major causes of infant deaths are: prematurity (less than 37 weeks) and low birth-weight (less than or equal to 5.5 pounds), birth defects and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 
 
Major causes of premature birth and low birth-weight include:
• Smoking during pregnancy or exposure to second-hand smoke
• Malnutrition and poor vitamin intake during gestation
• Closely spaced subsequent pregnancies
• Sexually transmitted diseases
• Maternal drug or alcohol use
• Poor weight management (both obesity and underweight mothers are at risk)
 
We can mitigate many of these factors by ensuring adequate access to education and care for all mothers. We must continue to do more to increase SIDS awareness and safe sleep practices, invest in evidence-based early intervention health programs and teen pregnancy prevention, and improve access to care in rural, impoverished areas.
 
At ECU, maternal-fetal medicine specialists offer advanced care for high-risk pregnancies in our Regional Perinatal Center located in the outpatient center at the Brody School of Medicine.
 
In research, Dr. Elizabeth Jesse in the ECU College of Nursing has led studies that indicate a correlation between low-income women and preterm births or low birth weight. Earlier this year, she received a National Institute of Mental Health grant to expand her research into the effectiveness of a program http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/insightplus for low-income women in reducing their risk of prenatal, or antepartum, depression. 

It’s clear we still have a lot of work to do. ECU and the Brody School of Medicine are committed to doing our part to help mothers in need, and to educating our students to address the factors contributing to this challenge in underserved areas.
 

 

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Oct 232012
 

Last Thursday night, many of the Brody family came out to roll the dice, have fun and raise money for a cause that is close to the heart of many that work on the Health Science Campus.

Greenville Women’s’ League along with Carolina Breast and Oncologic Surgery sponsored the 9th annual Bunco for Breast Cancer at the Greenville Convention Center. All proceeds benefit Gardeners for Hope, a fund that has been assisting local breast cancer patients for many years.

Gardeners for Hope began by a group of friends to honor the memory and spirit of a dear friend lost to cancer in 2002. Their friend, Joan Balch, was a consummate gardener and fascinating companion. Her devotion to her family and friends were inspiring and her spirit, strength, and joy in life as well as her fight against the disease gave all who knew her the hope they needed during her illness. Joan’s friends wish to pass on that hope and strength to others coping with breast cancer. The fund is a way to help patients maintain hope and gather strength by receiving care and support.

All proceeds donated to Gardeners for Hope are given to patients actively undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Breast cancer patients who are challenged by economic problems or are in need of positive encouragement receive assistance from the fund. There is no income qualification to receive assistance.

The Gardeners for Hope funds are distributed to the patients through the dedicated social workers and nurses that work at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center. Other local oncology centers such as Carolina Breast & Oncologic Center and the McConnell-Raab Hope Lodge will contact the fund to assist local breast cancer patients in need as well.

Operational costs for Gardeners for Hope are minimal. There are no personnel or building maintenance costs. No one receives any type of compensation from the fund. Only the breast cancer patients receive assistance. Retired nurses and social workers still remain active on the board of Directors of the fund and volunteer at events. It is the mission of the fund founders, who continue to remain active, that this fund remains unrestricted to assist patients with various things in their time of need in a timely and efficient manner. The Gardeners for Hope fund is completely operational due to the generosity of others.

Due to the vast geographical landscape that the Vidant Hospital system incorporates in eastern North Carolina, more patients are being diagnosed and sent to the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center for treatment. Due to the rising cost of gasoline, many patients are struggling to make chemotherapy appointments. Assistance with transportation has become a large portion of what the fund assists with covering for breast cancer patients. More patients are traveling further distances to receive treatment at Leo Jenkins Cancer Center. Some of the local patients are elderly and cannot drive. The fund has assisted with transportation costs such as taxis, ambulance transportation and minor car repairs such as a tire or battery.

Assistance with Co-Payments for Prescriptions has been another area that the fund has seen increase tremendously. Due to the economic climate, many patients do not have insurance. The patients with insurance are foregoing filling prescriptions. This is due to the escalating cost of co-payments for drugs, especially without generics available and the reported shortage. Without assistance, prescriptions are not being filled therefore, at times possibly slowing recovering for some of the patients and hindering treatment.

Jan Tysinger, Health Science Personnel; Reagan Askew, Health Science Personnel; Cindy Reaves, BSOM Dean’s Administration; Amy Tysinger

Gardeners for Hope have been able to assist many patients with many needs. In addition to the transportation and prescription assistance, the fund has also assisted patients with their utility bill, wigs, mammograms, massages, new clothing due to rapid weight loss, prosthesis, family portrait for terminal cases, flowers to light spirits, eye glass prescription, grass mowing service and many other items for many situations.
As we enter the holiday season, please consider making a tax deductible contribution to honor the survivors, the ones we have lost and the ones currently in the fight. For more information please contact Anita Proctor, Nurse Manager at Leo Jenkins Cancer Center at 252-744-3740 or by email PROCTORA@ecu.edu

To those of you that attended, thank you for your willingness to help others in their time of need and with painting Greenville PINK!

Marsha Hall
Daughter of a Breast Cancer Survivor
Treasurer, Greenville Women’s League
Business Coordinator, Medical Education & Student Development

Oct 052012
 

A participant kayaks at last year’s Health Fitness Walk.

Bring your tennis shoes to work Wednesday, Oct. 17, because the Brody School of Medicine is ready to help you get healthy!

The ECU Staff Senate is sponsoring the annual Health Fitness Walk from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Lake Laupus on west campus.

A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows state obesity rates remain high. The South had the highest prevalence of obesity at 29.5 percent, followed by the Midwest at 29 percent, the Northeast at 25.3 percent and the West at 24.3 percent. North Carolina ranks as the 17th most obese state in the nation. Staying active with a midday walk is a great way to reduce stress, keep off extra pounds and change statistics. For more information on the report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html#Prevalence

We hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity to walk and try Zumba, yoga or kayaking, and learn more ways to stay healthy and fit.

While you’re there, grab a free smoothie from Sheetz and taste healthy food samples from Rock Springs Center and ECU Campus Dining. The ECU Pharmacy will have one of their legendary “$1 Day Sales.” Blood pressure screenings will be offered by ECU Physicians and the ECU College of Nursing. And Dr. Kathryn Kolasa, ECU dietitian and local columnist, will be showing participants the correct way to read caloric information on labels.

The Student Recreational Center, ECU Bike Share and Friends of the Greenville Greenway will have bikes and maps so you can take a spin on our beautiful campus. They will also help you plan a wonderful bike ride on our community greenways!

Other organizations will include Rum Runner Dive Shop, ECU Bariatric Surgery, the East Carolina Heart Institute, the Advisory Council Team for Wellness Education Leadership, the Psychological Assessment and Specialty Service Clinic, ECU Thai Chi Club, and the Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center.

Make sure you visit all of the tables to register for great door prizes. This is a university-sponsored floating event and all ECU employees are encouraged to attend. We hope to see you there!

Marsha Hall
Chair, ECU Staff Senate, Rewards & Recognition Committee