Healthy Families Jacksonville joins the Coalition

Oct 5, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments


A Healthy Families home visitor meeting with a client

The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition has been awarded a subcontract with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission to administer implementation of the Healthy Families Jacksonville program effective October 1, 2016.

Healthy Families is a nationally-accredited family support and coaching program that helps parents provide the safe and stable environments children need for healthy growth and development. The evidence-based program is voluntarily and the participants receive the services in their home by specially-trained support workers.

With the Coalition’s focus on preventing infant mortality and Healthy Families focus on reducing child abuse, the merge allows the Coalition to serve pregnant women and babies up to five years old. Families are screened for both programs with the Healthy Start screen.

The Healthy Families program will serve families living in Duval county in targeted zip codes. Those zip codes include: 32202, 32204, 32205, 32206, 32207, 32208, 32209, 32210, 32211, 32216, 32217, 32218, 32219, 32220, 32221, 32225, 32226, 32233, 32244, 32246, 32250, 32254, 32256, 32257 and 32277.

To be eligible for the Healthy Families program, participants must be pregnant or have an infant less than three months of age; live in a targeted geographic service delivery area; score 13 or above on the Healthy Start screen.

The Coalition welcomes approximately 28 new staff members to the team and looks forward to continuing serving pregnant women, babies and families, to promote positive parent-child relationships and to ensure that every baby has a healthy start.

Guest Post: Duval County Nurse-Family Partnership breastfeeding initiative

Aug 17, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

Cyndia Estime is the Continuous Quality Improvement (QCI) Coordinator for the Nurse-Family Partnership at the Coalition. Cyndia wanted to find out the different type of support womeiStock_000000548251Small b&wn needed to to increase their duration of breastfeeding. Cyndia created a three-question survey, and yielded results which exceeded her set goal.

The Duval County Nurse-Family Partnership is a free, voluntary and evidence-based home visiting program for first-time moms. Each mother is partnered with a registered nurse early in pregnanc
y and receives home visits through the child’s second birthday.
In May 2014, our team joined the National Home Visiting Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (HV CoIIN), selecting a breastfeeding topic for improvement as our focus of work in the collaborative charter. The primary goal of the HV CoIIN is to improve rates of initiation
and duration of breastfeeding. Collaboratively, our specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) aim is 30 percent of children will be fed breastmilk exclusively until three months and 15 percent until six months. Activities of the collaborative network include learning sessions, webinars, conference/topic calls, emails and utilizing the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) model of improvement to test changes moving toward improvement.
This two-year collaborative learning effort results in the development of reliable, effective policies and practices that support families through critical windows for breastfeeding decision-making, which involve the provision of breastfeeding education at enrollment, 36 weeks gestation and ensuring mothers complete infant feeding plan prior to delivery. Our data shows 92 percent of pregnant women reported intention to breastfeed at enrollment and 100 percent at 36 weeks gestation. The data also shows 71 percent initiated breastfeeding at delivery.

To increase the duration of breastfeeding, we created a questionnaire. Eight women who are currently breastfeeding, at different lengths of time, participated in the questionnaire.

The questionnaire asked:
1. What is helping you to BF until now?
2. What do you think might stop you from breastfeeding in the next few weeks?
3. What support do you think might make it easier for you to continue breastfeeding?
We then analyzed the results and the clients’ needs were identified.

Their responses include:

1. Support from International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and
Nurse-Home Visitor
2. Support to pump regularly/having a better pump
3. Good family support and acceptance to breastfeed
4. Support to breastfeed for one year
5. How to stop baby from biting during feeding
6. Scheduling time for house chores and child care
7. Support to breastfeed as long as possible

We decided to give each client the necessary support in order to increase the duration of breastfeeding. At the end of this project, six mothers have breastfed for three months and two mothers have reached six months of breastfeeding.

Barbers for Babies 2016 Recap

Aug 10, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments


The 6th Annual Barbers for Babies took place on August 7th, 2016 with a great amount of support from the community. Barbers for Babies links barbershops with the community to spread awareness about infant mortality. The event, hosted at the Charles Boobie Clark Park for the first time, was home to a four-on-four youth-flag-football tournament, as well as a health fair with information from Coalition programs, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, Sunshine Health, and Molina Healthcare. Thank you to Councilman Reggie Brown for providing the event space.
There were also hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies given to the youth to start the school year off on the right foot!

Thank you to the local barbershops that made this event possible:

  1. The cut Above (TCA)
  2. Flip Mode Barbershop
  3. Taylormade Cutz
  4. Center Stage
  5. Center Stage II
  6. Main Connections Barbershop
  7. Legendary Cutz
  8. Duval Cutz
  9. Circle of Images
  10. Headquarters
  11. Nappy Heads
  12. Shear Finesse Hairstyling Academy
  13. Total Beauty Institute (TBI)
  14. N Da Cut


Zika in pregnancy: Small bite, big effects

Aug 8, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

With the first locally-transmitted cases of Zika popping up in the Miami-Dade area in July, experts are predicting local outbreaks throughout the state. While the disease may cause no symptoms or mild symptoms in adults, it is potentially devastating for unborn babies if acquired by a pregnant woman.


Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Health

There have been six confirmed cases of of the Zika Virus in the Jacksonville area, all travel-related, according to the Florida Department of Health, with the potential for many others to become affected.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that is spread by the Aedes species of mosquitos. Mosquitos that carry the Zika virus are more active during the day and can survive in both indoor and outdoor locations.

Although mosquito bites are the most common way the Zika virus spreads, having sex with an infected partner, blood transfusions, and pregnancy are also ways of spreading the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mothers who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant should take precautionary actions to
prevent them from becoming infected with the virus. Being infected by the Zika virus during pregnancy has been linked to fetal brain defects that causes problems in infants including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth.

Although there is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus, there are many ways to prevent being infected, according to the CDC.


  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.

Insect repellent:

  • Repellents that contain Deet are the most effective during pregnancy
  • Picaridin is an alternative repellent that is safe to use during pregnancy
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than three-years-old.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two-months old.

Sexual transmission

  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.

Many people affected with Zika will have mild symptoms or none at all. Symptoms could include a fever, rash, joint pain, headache or conjunctivitis (red eyes). If you have experienced any of the symptoms and have been to a region where the Zika virus is present, it is recommended that you visit a physician or healthcare provider and request testing

To get more information about the Zika Virus and possible ways of prevention, visit:

It’s a tough job, and only a mother can do it!

Aug 2, 2016  •   Written by Jerail Fennell   •  no comments

A Mother’s Journey through Breastfeeding: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Written By: Samantha Thompson


Samantha and Baby Bryce

      When I was asked to write about my experiences with breastfeeding, I was honestly very excited!  I feel extremely accomplished in my seven-month journey and definitely have some stories to tell.  But when I sat down at my computer, I drew a blank.  Not a blank as in “I have nothing to say,” but a blank as in “where do I start?”  So I decided to just start writing and see where it leads me.

     Any parent can probably write an entire book telling stories of parenthood, but I only have a few paragraphs. So, I’m going to focus on three aspects of nursing my son: the good, the bad and the ugly.  Let’s start, though, with the ugly and work up to the good. If you can get through the ugly and the bad of breastfeeding, a.k.a the first few months, you are good to go.

breastfeeding week 4

Samantha and husband, Tory

     The ugliest part of breastfeeding for me was the pain. …LOTS of pain.  I took a nursing class a few weeks before my due date, as many mommies-to-be will or should do.  It was great information. I was informed about the science of breastfeeding, the techniques of breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding and more. I was certain that I was well on my way to becoming the best breastfeeder in the world. What they left out in the class, was the emotional and physical toll nursing has on a new momma.  I had terribly cracked and bloody nipples for the first two months of nursing.  Every time my son latched, it was excruciatingly painful. I thought many times about giving up and struggled with the notion that I was somehow failing my little boy. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t doing anything wrong so I contacted a lactation expert. After talking with the expert, I found out that my pain was completely normal.  There are, though, many different remedies for the physical pain, as explained to me by the expert. The things that saved me were lots of nipple butter, a nipple shield and ibuprofen.  At about the third month, I didn’t need any of those things! For the emotional struggle or baby blues, I found a lot of relief in talking to other mommas, whether they breastfed or not.  It’s super important to have an army of support around you!

       The bad part of breastfeeding, and the toughest for me, was the constant work and effort that is required initially. Everything was new to me! Newborns need to eat every hour or so and because breast milk is mainly water, it digests super quickly. Think about that for a second… that means that I was sitting with my newborn every other hour for at least 20 minutes per side all day every day…including nights. Although I enjoyed the timing bonding with my newborn, it was very tough for me to adjust. The nights were the worst for me. I’m very grumpy on minimal sleep, so says my husband. During this time, it is very handy to have an army of support. You have to have help! While you cannot give your boob to your significant other to feed the baby, there are things that they can do to support you. They can clean, cook dinner, wake up with you for the extra company or rub your feet when you become overly stressed.   Don’t be scared or feel less powerful by asking for a little help. Even if it’s just for someone to watch over your little one while you take a shower!

breastfeeding week 2

Samantha & Baby Bryce

Now that we’ve waded through the yucky stuff, let me say, breastfeeding is the most empowering thing I have ever done as a woman and mother. The benefits are honestly countless!  Every year there is more and more research that supports breastfeeding for the first six months of life (any amount is AMAZING!).  Not only are you feeding your baby with the most nutritious milk possible, you are also building their immune system.  Because the milk is organic, it actually changes to fit what your child needs.  As you nurse, your body picks up on any bacteria and viruses in your baby and creates pathogens to protect and fight against illness, all on its own! Breast milk has also been found to help prevent allergies. From my personal experience, my eight-month-old, whom I nursed for seven months, has only ever had pink eye once. No other fevers, funks or sickness!

breastfeeding week 1

Baby Bryce, 8 months old

Breastfeeding is not only tremendous for the little one, it’s also wonderful for the mother! Nursing mothers are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Remember those baby blues from earlier?  After I got the hang of nursing, those quickly went away! Feeding my little dude became stress relieving and relaxing. On top of that, breastfeeding helps momma lose some, if not all of the baby weight. I gained about 80-85 pounds in my pregnancy. Eight months later, I only have 15 more pounds to lose to break even! But the most rewarding part, for me, is the bond that my little one and I now share. Deciding to breastfeed has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

There are many, many, more benefits of breastfeeding; I can’t possibly fit them all! Remember, you are a beautiful and wonderful mother, and whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you are going to be great! You can do this! Happy Worldwide Breastfeeding Week! #BreastMilkIsTheBestMilk