Infant mortality rate remains unchanged, disparities and sleep-related deaths remain a concern

Jul 29, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

One hundred forty-three babies in Northeast Florida died before their first birthday — meaning eight classes of kindergartners will not start school in five years. The regional infant mortality rate remains at 8.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, higher than recent years but still lower than just a decade ago.

The black and other nonwhite infant mortality rate rose, while the white infant mortality rate fell. The disparity is significant — black babies are more than two and a half times as likely to die before their first baby than white babies.

IM by Race 2014

Sleep-related deaths remain high. Twenty-four babies died from Sudden Unexplained Infants Deaths (SUIDs) in 2014. These largely preventable deaths account for 16.7 percent of all infant deaths.

IM rates 2014Both Baker and Nassau counties saw significant fluctuations — Nassau increased from 1.3 to 5.4 while Baker decreased from 14.3 to 5.5.  Rates in small counties like Baker and Nassau can fluctuate significantly from year to year, as a few additional or less deaths impact the rate much more than larger counties.

After consistent declines that were historically much lower than the region, state and surrounding counties, St. Johns County continues to see a higher infant mortality rate of 6.5 deaths per 1000 live births. Clay County increased from 4.8 deaths to 6.2 deaths per 1000 live births.

Duval County — which also accounted for the most births — had the highest infant mortality rate in the region, 8.8 deaths per 1000 live births. While the rate in Duval remained the same from 2013, the landscape of deaths has changed: the infant death rate in Health Zone 1, the urban core of Jacksonville, has declined while three zip codes, 32210, 32211 and 32218, have seen significant increases.

North Florida Health Corps members complete 2014-15 term

Jul 15, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments


Twenty-one AmeriCorps members were recognized for completing their term of service with the North Florida Health Corps at a ceremony on July 14.

The Health Corps, an initiative of the Healthy Start Coalition, celebrated the 2014-15 Corps for their accomplishments over the 46-week term, including completing the required 1700 hours and providing direct service in various public health-focused nonprofit and government partners in five counties in North Florida, including Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns.

Members took the time at the ceremony to reflect on their service. Samantha Tyler talked about the esprit de corps — the camaraderie the group built over the course of the term and the pride they felt in their service. Gardenia Duran discussed the challenges that members face, like financial difficulties, working with difficult clients and recognizing the impact they make.

Each member, mentor  and site was recognized. Mentors then had the opportunity to thank the members for their service and efforts. The 21 members served at 16 sites:

  • Florida Department of Health — Baker County
  • Florida Department of Health — Clay County
  • Florida Department of Health — Duval County
  • Florida Department of Health — Nassau County
  • Hubbard House
  • I.M. Sulzbacher Center
  • NEFL Healthy Start Coalition/Magnolia Project
  • River Region Human Services
  • UF Health Jacksonville — Healthy Start
  • Women’s Center of Jacksonville
  • YMCA Duval County
  • YMCA Clay County
  • The Way Free Medical Clinic
  • The Bridge of Northeast Florida
  • THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health/Wolfson Children’s Hospital

Recruitment for the 2015-16 term is underway. The new Corps will start in early September.

Guest Post: Spreading safe sleep, healthy pregnancy messages in the community

Jul 10, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

IMG_6654This blog was written by University of North Florida intern Marissa Giles. 

Marissa is studying Community & Public Health at UNF and will be graduating this summer. She has interned at the Coalition since May 2015.

My name is Marissa Giles and I have been lucky enough to get an internship here at the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.

Throughout my internship I have been able to go out to various locations in the Jacksonville community to educate about infant mortality and infant safe sleep practices. Thus far I have been able to give a safe sleep presentation to soon-to-be moms at Soluna Yoga Studio and teach “Make a Noise! Make a Difference!” classes to women at the Sulzbacher Center. The Make a Noise! curriculum covers important preconception, pregnancy and infancy topics like folic acid, prenatal care, substance use and safe sleep.

Later this month I’m excited to be at another yoga studio presenting safe sleep information to their prenatal class and I will be teaching a Make a Noise! class at Babies “R” Us.  Near the end of July I will also be heading to Littlebits Consignment Shop on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville during their annual sale to hand out safe sleep information and play some interactive games with the moms and dads there.

IMG_7315The reception I have gotten from the community has been overwhelmingly positive towards all of the classes and information I have been offering. There have also been plenty of small businesses in the community who have happily taken infant safe sleep practices brochures to hand out to their customers to better educate them on ways to prevent infant mortality.

Azalea participants celebrate, earn incentives for hard work

Jul 7, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

azalea1The Azalea Project’s Annual Spring “My Life’s Journey” Participant Activity & Shopping Day held was held Friday June 12th.

The Azalea participants participated in the Azalea Bucks Incentive Program while in case management and were rewarded at the event for their hard work, including:

  • Enrolling in school
  • Completing life course groups at the Azalea office
  • Taking classes offered thru WIC, Brighter Beginning and other partner agencies
  • Getting involved in civic activities in their communities
  • Being community advocates
  • Volunteer work
  • Gaining employment
  • Finding housing
  • Maintaining sobriety
  • Keeping prenatal and well-woman check-ups
  • And other positive things in moving their lives forward.


“My Life’s Journey” is their time to express concerns; recommend new topics of interest for groups and Azalea outreach; meet and greet other participants in the program; and “shop ’til you drop” after all they earned it!

The Azalea Project is an initiative of the Healthy Start Coalition that focuses on reducing risk-taking behavior in substance-abusing pregnant and parenting women by breaking the cycle of substance use and other at-risk behaviors. The Project provides Healthy Start services to pregnant women through Healthy Start and case management to preconception women through the Coalition.

Coalition sets 2015-16 priorities

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

coverEach year, the Coalition adopts an annual action plan to guide activities and focus efforts and resources on areas that have the biggest impact on infant mortality and birth outcomes. The Coalition membership adopted the 2015-16 action plan during its June meeting.

The 2009-2015 Service Delivery Plan that currently directs efforts and subsequent Annual Action Plans follow the life course — from infancy through childhood and adolescence and preconception health to pregnancy and childbirth.

The full presentation on the action plan update is available here.

Infancy: Efforts are focused around infant mortality, health disparities, low birth weight and post neonatal deaths. Additions include:

  • Participation in the state Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network for safe sleep, breastfeeding and the social determinants of health
  • Creation of a Fatherhood Task Force
  • New focus area: Substance-exposed newborns.
    • Create a quarterly substance-exposed newborns task force
    • Increase partnerships with agencies who serve substance-abusing women
    • Continue the work of the Azalea Project
  • Bring back Safe Sleep Partnership
  • Partner with area hospitals

Childhood & Adolescence: Efforts are focused around childhood obesity, teen STI/HIV rates and repeat births to teens. Additions include:

Preconception: Efforts are focused on multivitamin use, smoking cessation, STI/HIV rates, obesity and interconceptional intervals. Additions include:

  • Incorporate yoga for stress reduction
  • Do more to promote healthy eating (Health Begins Before Birth, cooking classes, etc.)

Pregnancy & Childbirth: Efforts are focused on early prenatal care, tobacco use, maternal mortality, single motherhood and infant mortality. Additions include:

  • A work group to reduce women substance-abusing during pregnancy
  • Promoting healthy relationships
  • Expanding the infant mortality task forces to Clay County