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CHEC to implement area Care Team

By By BILL CRIST
Staff Writer
It takes something out of the ordinary to cause the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County to deviate from a 7 a.m. start to its monthly meetings. On March 2, just such an event will take place when the Coalition will hear from Dr. Malcolm Marler of Mobile speak about introducing Care Teams to our area.
A Care Team is a group of volunteers who work together offering support to caregivers. That support may come in several forms, through help with grocery shopping or house cleaning to spiritual guidance. Team members do what they can and are comfortable with, but do so in an organized approach.
"They can be so helpful to people who are care providers," said Ruth Harrell, chairperson of the Coalition. "It's an idea whose time has come."
Harrell encouraged Coalition members to bring a guest to the special meeting, which will begin at 8 a.m. at the Flomaton United Methodist Church. She also invited the public to attend and learn more about organizing a Care Team. The Care Team Network, which is associated with the University of Alabama-Birmingham, has trained hundreds of Care Teams across the state. The Coalition hopes to hold a training session locally in April.
According to Sissy Louise Moore of the Area Agency on Aging, there are about 10,000 people in our region with some form of dimensia or Alheizemers. She went on to say that there is a federal grant in place for the next three years to help get the program off the ground and train teams.
More information about Care Teams is available at www.careteam.org.
The Coalition also heard from Dr. Marsha Raulerson of Brewton and Dr. Lloyd R. Wade, Jr. of Atmore. The two addressed the issue of the infant mortality rate and what the results of the femur project showed could be done to lower it.
"The purpose is to better understand the issues that are causing the high infant mortality rate and to reduce the mortality rate," Wade said. "By understanding, we can suggest solutions to help provide better care and help decrease the rate."
Raulerson pointed out that the project in Escambia County is one of only four in state and is being funded by the state's Perinatal Advisory Committee. She went on to outline both "quick" and "long-term" solutions that would help to save babies' lives.
She said that by insuring all pregnant women, they would receive better prenatal care; educating the public about the importance of back to sleep was another step; eliminating barriers to NICU, which is a rural health concern, is important as are providing babies with their mother's breast milk and women taking folic acid beginning three months before getting pregnant. Raulerson said these quick fixes could save up to 95 infants each year in Alabama alone.
"I see the role of the Coalition as being a help in a public education campaign, getting the information out," she said.
"I for one would like to see our Coalition take this issue on," Harrell said.
After hearing the two presentations, a representative from each of the Coalition's subcommittees gave a brief update about ongoing projects. Those projects include the completed Resource Directory which is available at the Escambia County Health Department; AllKids, which is in the process of re-enrolling students for the upcoming year; the Ozanam Charitable Pharmacy, which is in the process of re-screeening clients and has provided over $82,000 in medicine over the past six months; the dental clinic which is being considered as an ongoing educational facility for the state; the UPS program, which is working on securing grant money to provide programs for the county's middle school students; fluoridation of all the county's water systems; FitFest and the Care Giver Workshops which will be held in Brewton and Atmore in March.