Executive Transition Announcement
It is with both sadness and gratitude that I announce Elise Blasingame’s departure as Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA). HMHBGA has a 46-year history of serving the community by improving maternal and infant health in Georgia through advocacy, education and access to vital resources.
Since 2016, Elise has played a critical role as the Executive Director in the development, growth and success of our organization. While we will miss her leadership, we wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor. Elise will be departing later this year to begin her doctoral program in political science at UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs.
On behalf of our Board and Staff, I would like to thank Elise for her many contributions to the success of HMHBGA. Elise’s years of dedicated service involved many significant accomplishments, including, but not limited to:
- Growing the HMHBGA team from 8 to 19 staff across our Call Center and Coalition Programs with the Call Center serving over 40,000 Georgians every year.
- Establishing and fostering key relationships with HMHBGA’s many partner organizations, funders and volunteers to create a diverse and inclusive space to address maternal and infant health outcomes for Georgia.
- Assisting the HMHBGA Board to reach its most diverse state to date in terms of race/ethnicity, age, industry and skillset.
- Leading the effort to establish the first Maternal Mental Health program in Georgia at the Department of Public Health.
- Launching the Building Perinatal Support Professionals Program to provide scholarships and support for women to become certified as Childbirth Educators or Doulas.
- Launching Pickles & Ice Cream Georgia® HMHBGA’s Perinatal Education Program that includes in person sessions and a dynamic online platform aimed at educating and empowering women and their families in the perinatal period (www.picklesandicecreamga.org).
Over the next few months, we will be conducting a search to find a new Executive Director for HMHBGA. During this transition period, it is our priority to find the best individual to lead, while still maintaining all of the great work, funding, and impact of the organization.
Again, we cannot thank Elise enough for the unwavering commitment, passion, enthusiasm and integrity she has shown Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition during her tenure. She will be greatly missed by the Staff, Board, Members and Partners alike. We look forward to following the success of her career.
We are hopeful and excited for the next chapter of HMHBGA, as we continue to support our community partners and strive to reach our vision of a Georgia where every mother and baby has the resources and support to be healthy and thrive throughout the perinatal period.
If you have any questions or concerns during this transition process, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may send a note of congratulations and thanks to Elise at email@example.com.
About the Search
The search is being handled by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. If you have questions regarding the position, please contact Andrea Zvikas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action Alert – Keeping Current @ The Capitol
Contact members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and ask them to vote YES on HB 1114 which extends Pregnancy Medicaid coverage from 2 months to 6 months following birth of a child for mothers to access critical postpartum care. They meet at 3:30PM today so please email them prior to 3:00PM!
Contact These Legislators
Please contact the members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee which is voting on the bill today at 3:30PM.
Dear Senator ________,
Please vote YES on HB 1114 when it comes before you in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today. This bill extends Medicaid coverage from 2 months to 6 months following birth of a child for mothers for critical postpartum care. As you are aware, this is a primary recommendation of Georgia’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee to address Georgia’s maternal health crisis.
Providing access to healthcare for new mothers can reduce Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and ensure better health outcomes for the babies, saving costs and lives in years to come. Additionally, adopting postpartum Medicaid for at least six months following delivery is especially important now, to support the physical and mental health of mothers and their newborns, who are dealing with additional stresses such as ill family members, job losses, and uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19 on maternal and infant health.
Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s mothers and families.
Download our One-Pager
More than half of all births in Georgia are covered by Medicaid and by extending the period for postpartum coverage, the State has an opportunity to improve women’s health and birth outcomes. Specifically, we believe extending postpartum coverage would:
- Reduce maternal mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Promote early detection and treatment of postpartum depression and related mental health conditions
- Reduce the rate of low birthweight and preterm births (wrap-around services to prevent poor birth
- outcomes in future pregnancies)
- Reduce healthcare costs to the State
- Support reimbursements for care given in rural Georgia
Happy to help.
Email us with any questions at email@example.com. We will be down at the Capitol today advocating for this important measure!
Supporting Maternal Mental Health Efforts for Georgia’s Moms
GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, in collaboration with Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and Postpartum Support International – Georgia Chapter, recently released the research brief, “Helping Mothers, Helping Babies: A Two-Generation Approach to Treating Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.”
Georgia is currently experiencing a maternal health crisis, which has had devastating effects not only for mothers, but also for their children. Maternal mental health is of specific concern. A House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality conducted in Georgia in the Fall of 2019 listed mental health conditions as one of the causes of pregnancy related deaths.
Studies show that mental health conditions impact mothers and their children too. Maternal depression, for example, has shown to increase a child’s risk for behavioral problems, depression symptoms, and stress-related health issues. This is especially of concern in Georgia, where responses to the 2017 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) showed more than 50% of new mothers reported feeling “down, depressed, or hopeless.”
To assist more mothers and their children through these challenges, the state should implement strategies to support both mothers who experience pregnancy related mental health conditions such as Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) and their children. While Georgia currently has evidence-based models such as home visiting and dyadic treatment available in a limited capacity, these services are not widely accessible enough to address the prevalence of PMADs. These practices are promising approaches to improving mothers and children’s social-emotional well-being, and they should be adequately supported. Additionally, statewide policy changes, such as extending pregnancy Medicaid to one-year postpartum, could provide additional access to care for Georgia’s mothers.
LEAD Atlanta Assists HMHBGA With Online Perinatal Education Resource Launch
Maternal & Infant Health Policy Breakfast & Legislative Awardees Announced
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) is excited to announce our 2020 Maternal and Infant Health Policy Breakfast will be held in collaboration with Georgia March of Dimes on January 29, 2020 from 7:30AM – 11:00AM at the Central Presbyterian Church (201 Washington Street SW in Atlanta, Georgia), across from the State Capitol.
Legislative Panelists – Chairman Chuck Hufstetfler, Representative Carolyn Hugley, Representative Darlene Taylor, and Senator Nan Orrock – will be answering audience questions about the future of maternal and infant health policies in the State.
Six legislators will also be honored with HMHBGA’s Charlotte Wilen Advocate of the Year Awards at the Policy Breakfast on January 29, 2020. The Wilen Award acknowledges the hard work and efforts of our State’s lawmakers to improve maternal and child health through policy change. Charlotte Wilen was an avid advocate for Georgia families during her life and was the founder of HMHBGA in 1974. Please join us in congratulating the following policymakers whose contributions in the 2019 Legislative Session made real impact for Georgia families!
“We are very grateful to this year’s Wilen Award Winners,” stated Caryn Hanrahan, nurse-midwife and Chair of HMBGA’s Advocacy Committee. “Without their steadfast support, we would not have been able to secure the funding our state so desparately needs to finally address our terrible maternal and infant health outcomes. We look forward to working with them this session to protect that funding and get those programs off the ground for Georgia’s families.”
Georgia House Study Committee Releases Report on Infant & Toddler Social and Emotional Health
ATLANTA – The Georgia House Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health this week released their final report, which includes multiple recommendations to promote the wellbeing of Georgia’s infants and toddlers.
Proposals from the committee include creating a position to be housed at the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) focused on infant and toddler social and emotional health, ensuring Medicaid codes and diagnoses are appropriate for children under four, and creating a plan to promote a mental health workforce that supports young children. Additionally, the committee has called on child serving state agencies to create a leadership team focused on infant and toddler social emotional health.
Chaired by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-Rome), the committee met five times over the course of Fall, 2019. Representatives appointed to the committee included Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Pam Dickerson (D-Conyers), Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), and Robert Dickey (R-Musella).
The Study Committee also recommended extending Medicaid for women up to twelve months postpartum, something the Maternal Mortality Study Committee, chaired by Representative Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), also recommended in their Final Report.
“We know the early years matter immensely to a child’s lifelong development, so we were encouraged that Representative Dempsey’s study committee created such broad and thoughtful recommendations,” said Mindy Binderman, Executive Director at GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, a non-profit advocacy organization that focuses on policies that impact children 0-5. “We look forward to working with legislators to implement these recommendations in the coming months and years.”
Callan Wells, Health Policy Manager at GEEARS, testified on behalf of the Georgia Infant-Toddler Coalition at the Study Committee’s third meeting.
The Study Committee focused on the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, and their families. Over the course of the five meetings, members learned from national experts about how caretaker relationships and early experiences during the first three years of life can shape a child’s brain architecture, contributing to their ability to succeed in school, career, and future relationships.
Pediatricians, child care providers, and mental health specialists testified to the social-emotional issues they witness in young children and called on the members for state support. For example, they noted, preschool students are expelled at more than three times the rate of K-12 students.
The final testimony of the committee came from Dallas Rabig, with the state of Alabama where major steps have been taken to implement a statewide system that cares for the social-emotional needs of young children and their families.
About GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students
GEEARS is a nonprofit organization operating to inspire and provide leadership for a statewide movement on quality early learning and healthy development for all children ages birth through five. GEEARS was established in 2010 to help business, civic and government leaders maximize the economic return on the state’s investments in early care and learning.
PRESS ADVISORY: Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC, Announced as Carolyn Wetzel Continuum Award Winner for 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PRESS ADVISORY
CONTACT: Elise Blasingame, Executive Director, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia: firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-205-6680
October 23, 2019 – On Monday, October 28, 2019, Elizabeth O’Brien, LPC will be honored with the Carolyn Wetzel Continuum Award at the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) Annual Meeting and Conference held at the Embassy Suites in Savannah, GA.
The Wetzel Contiuum Award recognizes a volunteer or health professional who contributes to the health and well being of Georgia’s families by being a positive change agent in the public arena of advocacy and policy. This award is in memory of Carolyn Wetzel, a long-time HMHBGA member, friend, and dedicated public health advocate for mothers and babies.
O’Brien has been in private practice in Georgia since 2004. In addition to being a licensed professional counselor, she is also a consultant, speaker, yogi and educator who specializes in maternal mental health, early childhood mental health, parenting concerns, complex trauma, and relationships problems. Elizabeth is also widely respected as a “therapist’s therapist,” providing support for other “helpers” in our community.
Elizabeth has a passion for educating other professionals about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorders, and is a national trainer on the topic. She also serves as a volunteer coordinator with Postpartum Support International (PSI), and she is currently Board President of the Georgia Chapter of PSI.
“The Wetzel Award is meant for providers who go above and beyond to use their direct service abilities and experience to make larger-scale policy and program impact for Georgia’s families,” explained Elise Blasingame, executive director for HMHBGA.
“I cannot think of a more deserving individual for the 2019 Carolyn Wetzel Continuum Award than Elizabeth O’Brien,” continued Blasingame. “She has worked in practice, serving families directly as they battle the difficulties of postpartum depression, anxiety and other perinatal mental health challenges. She then applied her expertise and energy to forming a diverse Board to lead Georgia in advancing public prioritization of these debilitating and prevalent disorders. Our state is becoming a safer and more supportive place for pregnant and postpartum women thanks to her advocacy.”
- Under O’Brien’s leadership, PSIGA raised the most funds for maternal mental health of all PSI chapters in the world in 2018.
- PSIGA also completed a statewide strategic plan to advance maternal mental health by organizing focus groups with key stakeholders throughout Georgia in 2017-2018.
- Importantly, PSIGA worked alongside HMHBGA in 2018-2019 to secure $1.02 million in the State Budget for the very first state-agency led maternal mental health program which is housed at the Georgia Department of Public Health.
“I am very humbled and grateful to receive the Carolyn Wetzel Continuum Award, thank you,” said O’Brien. “I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated team who are all working hard to decrease stigma around Perinatal Mental Health in our state, increase resources for all mothers and to train providers who can screen all mothers for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in Georgia.”
O’Brien was nominated by several of her colleagues at the Georgia Chapter of PSI.
“To me, Elizabeth is a living example of what it looks like to wholeheartedly support a cause you feel passionate about,” shared PSIGA Board Member and fellow LPC, Melissa Keane. “Not only does she dedicate her professional work to supporting the wellness of mothers and families, she also lives and breathes this in all other areas of her life – including her friendships, hobbies, and free time spent volunteering in this capacity. Elizabeth is a natural and fearless leader for others who wish to join this cause.”
HMHBGA congratulates Elizabeth on the great success she has found with PSIGA and in her work supporting Georgia families every day to get the resources and care they need.
HMHBGA Raises $35,000 At 6th Annual Charity Golf Tournament
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PRESS ADVISORY
CONTACT: Elise Blasingame – email@example.com / 404-205-6680
September 26, 2019 – Kennesaw, GA – Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA) hosted its 6th Annual Move the Mark: Charity Golf Tournament on Monday, September 23, 2019 at Pinetree Country Club, in partnership with Official Golf Car Sponsor: Yamaha Golf Cars.
The event hosted over 90 golfers, sponsors, and guests who participated in an 18-hole scramble-style game, and included closest-to-the-pin competitions, longest drive competitions, on-course activities, a wine pull, raffles, and a silent auction. The tournament concluded with an awards presentation and reception.
“We are extremely grateful to our sponsors and participants, especially Yamaha Golf Cart Company” says Elise Blasingame, Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. “This was our most successful tournament yet, raising $35,000 to move the mark on maternal health in Georgia. Every dollar will go to supporting families across Georgia to access the healthcare and resources they need.”
All proceeds raised during the tournament go towards HMHBGA’s work to improve maternal and infant health throughout the state of Georgia through advocacy, education and access to vital resources.
Overall Tournament Winners
1st Place Team: A Historic Tie! Both teams shot a stunning 51 overall!
New Leaders Council:
The two best teams overall received trophies as well as bottles of American Spirit Whiskey’s limited-edition Monday Night Brewing collaboration – a Scottish-Style Single Malt Whiskey.
Closest to the Pin (Women): Pam Gietzen, LPGA
Closest to the Pin (Men): Ben West, Mercer School of Medicine
Longest Drive (Women): Diane McPherson, Pinetree Country Club
Longest Drive (Men): Lee Ford, Atlanta Commission on Women
All winners of our individual contests received trophies, HMHBGA golf towels, and bottles of locally crafted Gin from Old Fourth Ward Distillery.
About Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia
Since 1974, HMHBGA has been the strongest statewide voice for improved access to healthcare for Georgia’s mothers and babies. The organization’s mission is to improve maternal and infant health through advocacy, education and access to vital resources. HMHBGA’s programming serves low-income women who are at higher risk for poor birth and postpartum outcomes, specifically through a highly rated prenatal education program. HMHBGA engages in advocacy at the state level to promote sound policies that improve maternal and infant health in the State. Finally, HMHBGA also operates four lines of business through a Call Center, one of which is the Georgia Family Healthline (1-800-300-9003).
HMHBGA 2020 Advocacy Stakeholder Meeting: Lessons Learned
- People of color
- Black infant are two times as likely to be born low birthweight compared to white infants
- Georgia’s Black, Asian, and other race low birthweight rates are all above the national average
- Black infants have the highest rate of prematurity (14% of births) compared to other racial groups
- Black babies are two times more likely compared to all other racial groups to die before their first birthday
- Black women made up 60% of pregnancy-related deaths between 2012-2014
- Black and Latinx women are two times more likely than white women to have inadequate prenatal care
- Breastfeeding rates among Black and Asian mothers are below the CDC goal of 81.9%
- Women covered by Medicaid
- The breastfeeding rate for women covered by Medicaid is 81.3% compared to women covered by private insurance at 90.3%
- 47% of mothers covered by Medicaid during their pregnancy do not receive timely prenatal care
- 35% of mothers covered by Medicaid during their pregnancy lose coverage during the postpartum period compared to only 5% of those that were privately insured
- Georgia has the second highest rate (22.4%) of uninsured new mothers among 40 states
Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Maternal Mortality Study Committee, Meeting 1
The House Maternal Mortality Study Committee (MMSC) convened for the first time September 19, 2019 from 1-3 PM. The MMSC is chaired by Chairwoman Sharon Cooper (Marietta) and Representative Mark Newton (Augusta). Legislative members of the MMSC include Representatives Chuck Efstration (Dacula), Deborah Silcox (Sandy Springs), Darlene Taylor (Thomasville), Carolyn Hugley (Columbus), and Valencia Stovall (Forest Park). Dr. Chad Ray and Dr. Jane Ellis also serve as citizen members of the MMSC.
The meeting focused on the establishment, data review process, and findings of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) as well as the work of the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC). To watch a recording of the meeting visit here. Below is a summary of what was discussed.
Michael Lindsay, MD, Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC)
- MMRC began in 2010 and started as a maternal mortality advisory council to review maternal deaths.
- The MMRC has published findings for 2012-2014 cases and recently concluded the 2015 case review. Prior to the establishment of the MMRC, maternal death case review had been completed for a period up to the year 2000 but not picked up again until 2012.
- SB 273, which passed in the 2013-2014 session, secured legislative protections for the MMRC and strengthened their authority to obtain case records.
Michael Bryan, PhD, Maternal Mortality Data
- Of the 250 maternal deaths reviewed from 2012-2014, 101 (40%) deaths were pregnancy-related. 60% of these pregnancy-related deaths were determined to be preventable.
- There is a need to improve the vital records and case reporting process to accurately capture the occurrence of maternal deaths across the State.
- The MMRC will be examining the social determinants of health related to each case and other sources of data (i.e. Cancer Registry, GA Violent Death Reporting, etc.) moving forward.
Chris Tice, Case Abstraction and MMRC Review
- Cases are reviewed using a number of data sources to paint a picture of the mother’s last one or two years of life to better understand what contributed to her death.
- All cases regardless of cause of death that occur up to 365 days after delivery are abstracted by the MMRC.
- Excluding females less than 10 years of age or older than 55 years as well as those that do not reside in Georgia.
- MMRC reviews each case coming to a consensus by answering the following six questions:
- Was the death pregnancy-related?
- What was the cause of death?
- Was the death preventable?
- What were the factors that contributed to this death?
- What are the recommendations and actions that address these contributing factors?
- What is the anticipated impact of these actions if implemented?
Melissa Kottke, MD, Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC)
- GaPQC has worked to implement AIM (Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health) Safety Bundles with recommendations for hospital-based protocols and policies to improve maternal health.
- Currently in Georgia, the hypertension AIM bundle is being implemented in 36 hospitals and the hemorrhage AIM bundles is being implemented in 44 hospitals.
- 80% of Georgia’s birthing hospitals are implementing at least one of GaPQC’s AIM bundles
The next Maternal Mortality Study Committee meeting is October 17 from 1-3PM.
Want to get involved in HMHBGA Advocacy? Learn more here.