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Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners

A Word in Edgewise

By Commissioner Tim Norton

July 30, 2014

Over nine years ago, as we began the Visioneering process and meetings, low infant birth weight and infant mortality rates were a concern in our community and became an area of focus and benchmarking under the Health Care portion of the key determinants that we followed.   Progress has been made, programs implemented but we still struggle to achieve the State and National infant mortality rates per thousand.

I was honored to be able to make some opening remarks last week at the 11th annual Heartbreak and Hope conference.  The theme this year was “Infant Mortality:  Our babies, Our Community, Our Future.  Around 100 conferees attended to learn more about the issue, share evidence based processes, hear expert speakers, and exchange information and success stories.

Topics for the day included:   ‘Effects of Tobacco in Our Community’, ‘Bridges Out of Poverty’, ‘Maternal Depression’, ‘The Impact of Mind/Body/Health’ and ‘Coaching Professionals in Practice.’   The day ended with a panel discussion concerning the Infant Mortality issue in our community.

As I did some research preparing my remarks, I was struck by the profound impact that weak maternal health, low infant birth weight, SIDS, post-partum depression, and so many other factors have on our community.   I am encouraged that there is this kind of focus on understanding the gravity of the infant mortality epidemic.   Sedgwick County’s Health Department continues to be part of the solution with the Health Babies and Healthy Start programs, but this issue will not be solved by one program or one group.

Thanks for the hard work of the Community Action Team in the development and focus of the conference.  Funding for the Conference was provided through an educational grant by Wichita Medical Research and Education Foundation.

I am hopeful that more education, more focus, and increased community awareness of this issue in our community will lead to bringing down the Infant Mortality rates in the near future.   Until then we will have to continue to address the socio-economic, cultural, medical, mental health, and personal responsibility factors that affect our undesirable outcomes.

Thanks for letting me get a word in edgewise.

T.N.