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Bladen County Healthy Collaborative Gives Updates

The Bladen County Healthy Collaborative meets every month for round table discussions to help keep the citizens educated on healthy living. This morning the group met with Quessie Peterson, Morgan King, Mary Manlove, Grace Thompson, Cathy Gantz, Soni Melvin, Alise Pait, Terri Duncan, Robert Villegas, Tocarra Osborne, Kathi Smith, Tillie Clark, Meghan Toothman, Kelsey Edwards, Jill Sampson, and Shadana Headen, all in attendance. 

According to the Soni N. Melvin, BSPH, Health Educator with Bladen County Health Department, the round table discussion was productive.

Contributed by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service- Bladen County Center

Quessie Peterson reported that the Baltimore Community Center is still working with food banks to provide food for about 60 community members. Baltimore Community Center has also done surveys with the community to make sure they understand the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan and have transportation to vaccine appointments. Ms. Peterson commended Dr. Duncan for the health department’s service during vaccine appointments.

Morgan King with Bladen Parks and Recreation explained the Bladen County Parks and Recreation are not offering any programs at the moment due to COVID-19.

 Mary Manlove with the Poe Health Center reported an upcoming event, which is entirely online. The event is called Terrific Teeth Day. This event is free and incorporates follow-along activities, such as a magic show, reading the Dr. Seuss tooth book, and other fun activities. To register for Terrific Teeth Day, the sign up is online. The event will take place on February 6 from 10 am until 12 pm. The event is mainly for younger children but may go up to children in the third grade.


Grace Thompson with the Prevent Child Abuse Project, reported her team is still working on the community prevention action plan, as well as the environmental scan. Grace asked if anyone has access to parents who would be willing to take a survey to please reach out, and she will send the link to the survey. Grace also mentioned the idea of going through the survey with the parent, as many parents may be unsure how to operate it on their computer. A reward will be given to the first few parents who complete the survey. The reward is a 10-dollar VISA gift card. Overall, this survey is aimed to assess the parent’s view of Bladen County and the resources offered.

Dr. Cathy Gantz wearing purple on August 31, 2020 to help raise awareness on International Overdose Awareness Day

With the Bladen County Substance Use Task Force, Dr. Cathy Gantz reported the leadership committee would meet on February 3, 2021, to choose a protective factor that needs strengthening. The committee’s two elements at the moment are parent resilience and child development. The committee is excited to develop an action plan. They will also be launching another billboard campaign and continue promoting local recovery groups. Currently, there are AA meetings and Celebrate Recovery meetings at Foundation Church and Windsor United Methodist Church.

The Substance Task Force is exploring grant opportunities. The Bladen County Substance Task Force has another meeting scheduled for March 9, 2021 at 6:30. This event will be later assessed due to COVID-19. The team is hopeful of having this meeting.

 Soni Melvin with Health and Human Services reported that she collaborated with Krista Johnson on the “ESMM Maintain Don’t Gain Healthy Holiday Challenge.” The individuals who participated completed a survey and allowed Soni and Krista to gain valuable feedback for the upcoming year.

Alise Pait with the health department reflected on Heart Health Month and its importance. Heart Health Month is in February. February 5, 2021 is National Wear Red Day. Heart Health Month is aimed to raise awareness for cardiovascular disease and heart health issues. Heart disease was identified as a significant health need in the community health assessment for Bladen County. The Bladen County Health Department encourages the public to wear red on Friday, February 5, to support heart health month. 

Dr. Teresa “Terri” Duncan reported an update on the Covid-19 vaccine. According to her report, The first shipment came the Monday before Christmas. Therefore, the vaccine started being administered the following Tuesday, and have continued ever since. There is a limited supply of the vaccine, but Dr. Duncan has been working with the State on the allotment. Hopefully, the allotment will be more consistent now. Commwell Health has been granted provider status. The hospital and health department are administering the Covid-19 vaccines to ages 65 and above at this time. 

Dr. Duncan said, it has been an exciting time to vaccinate individuals who have lived through the years of Polio, Measles, and Smallpox. The older populations have supported the vaccine and ultimately set the standard. The health department is continuing to provide drive-thru testing Monday through Friday, except during severe weather. The health department is continuously reminding individuals, even after they are vaccinated, to practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash hands, and avoid large gatherings.

Dr. Duncan also spoke for Kelly Robeson with the Department on Aging, regarding any individuals who may need transportation to the health department to reach out to BARTS.  

 Robert Villegas with Bladen Community College gave an update on clinicals at the college and how challenging it is due to COVID-19. Bladen Community College is continuing to work with the food bank and ministries. Robert also reported that some of the college nurses are volunteering at their local Health Department. 

Tocarra Osborne with Innovative Approaches announced her team has finished the Me class in Bladen County. They received good feedback from the children. The children learned about disability and disability laws.

Innovative Approaches is working on the Prevent Child Abuse survey with the parents, as well as starting a new training in March for parents. This training will be named Collaborative Leader Training.

The autism society is focusing on self-care with the parents and children. Tocarra mentioned any education from the health department regarding when the children would be able to get vaccinated would be helpful information.

 Kathi Smith with Community Care of the Lower Cape Fear said vaccine education would be coming in the near future.

With the Dental ProgramTillie Clark stated it was great to hear about the Poe Health Centers upcoming event during Children’s Dental Health Month.

 Meghan Toothman with the Center for Healthy Communities reported that the Center for Healthy Communities is still working with Bladen and Robeson counties on a value based care project. They are working on finalizing COVID marketing materials that will be distributed at the health departments. 

Kelsey Edwards with the Bladen County Library explained a staff member is available each day from the library to answer the COVID vaccine hotline at the health department. The Library is also hosting a Valentine’s campaign to promote letters to the elderly in the community. 

Last but not least, Jill Simpson with the Department of Social Services reported that in December, the Christmas Assistance Programs were able to assist 34 Bladen County wards, 54 foster care children, and 114 children from the special adoption program with Christmas. 

The next Healthy Collaborative meeting will be held on February 23 at 9 a.m.

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