Tag Archives: healthy start

Press Release: Healthy Start Coalition Receives $30,000 Grant from the Bank of America Client Foundation to support Save My Life Program

save-my-life-logo-reduxHealthy Start Coalition Receives $30,000 Grant from the Bank of America Client Foundation to support Save My Life Program

Sarasota, FL – The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc. was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Bank of America Client Foundation’s Frederic W. and Margaret D. Kurtz Fund to continue their work reducing Racial Disparities during pregnancy and after birth via the Save My Life Program.

Created in 2006 in response to the alarming racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes, the Save My Life Program was designed to address the significantly higher rates of fetal and infant death experience among the African-American community. The Save My Life Program offers culturally relevant education about a variety of health and pregnancy related topics on a one-to-one or small group basis. The Program provides the tools and information women need to have healthy pregnancies, healthy children, and become healthy themselves.

Free classes are available at various locations throughout the Newtown and North Sarasota areas and cover topics such as childbirth education, breastfeeding, nutrition, safe sleep, preconception and interconception health, smoking cessation, and more. Save My Life also offers free one-on-one breastfeeding support after the birth of the baby, increasing the likelihood that nursing will continue allowing babies to get the right balance of nutrients, immune protection, and bonding to help them get a healthy start.

“The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County is grateful to the Bank of America Client Foundation for the renewal of this grant,” says Executive Director, Shon Ewens. “The Save My Life Program is an essential part of the Newtown Community. Without this funding, we wouldn’t be able to ensure that these important services are available to moms and babies that need them.”

The Save My Life Program reaches about a hundred pregnant women, new mothers, and women of childbearing age each year. For more information about the program and all of The Healthy Start Coalition’s services, please visit healthystartsarastoa.org.

Please call for more information, quotes, or client stories.


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Press Release: ROSE Community Transformer Training Aims to Reduce Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding in Sarasota County

FOR IMMEDIATE Release: April 15, 2016

DSC_1690ROSE Community Transformer Training Aims to Reduce Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding in Sarasota County

Additional efforts to train Care Providers and Provide Drop-In Support

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc. in partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota, was awarded a grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to reduce the growing breastfeeding disparity between African-Americans and Caucasians in our county.

Although the overall breastfeeding initiation rates are 86.4% in the county, only 66.5% of black residents initiate breastfeeding, with rates significantly dropping at 3 months.  The over-arching goal of the project is to increase local evidence-based breastfeeding support by: providing up-to-date training for care providers who already interfacing with our target population, implementing an innovative, culturally relevant peer support program for African-American women, providing drop-in breastfeeding support to targeted, underserved communities, and developing consistent messaging and materials for all partnering agencies.

As part of this project, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), a non-profit organization from Atlanta, Georgia, will provide specialized training for women who have breastfed so they can support women in their own communities.

This two-day training will be held at the Sarasota Memorial Waldemere Plaza on Thursday, April 28th and Friday, April 29th, from 9am – 3:30pm. Lunch is provided, along with a stipend of $100 for those attending both days.

After this training, women can provide breastfeeding support to moms in their community informally or through hosting breastfeeding clubs or at one of the drop-in breastfeeding support groups that the grant is funding. These support groups will be held in Newtown, North Port, and at the Health Department located at 2200 Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota. While the first two are in the early planning stages, the Health Department’s drop-in support is set to begin May 7th and run from 10am to 12pm at the Ringling Health Center Location.

These paid opportunities will provide increased access to free breastfeeding support in areas that need additional services. This additional support, along with other activities through the grant, will increase breastfeeding rates and decrease the gap between populations.

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Client Success Story: Meagan McMullem

Posted August 31, 2015

“An unplanned pregnancy is a challenge in it self. When you add to that raising two older children (one of which was diagnosed with autism) and a lack of a true support system, you panic! I was embarrassed that I had found myself in this position. However, I was willing to embrace the challenge and come out stronger.

This pregnancy was met with many obstacles including the emotional death of my Dad to pancreatic cancer. For awhile I lost focus of the bright side. I was already struggling. How was I going to make this happen? How was I going to hold it all together? Am I making the right choice or being selfish?

Luckily, for me, I had [my Healthy Start Care Coordinator] Jennifer! Jennifer could walk into my home visits and completely turn things around. She had an uncanny ability to get me back on track. Slowly mounds of pressure were relieved. Somehow every time she would give me a lead they worked out, which is not common for me.

I was also connected with [Healthy Start Counselor] Chip. An amazing man who could bring me down a few levels. He talked me thru the night my Dad passed and allowed for frequent “check ins”. I found a breast feeding class in which I earned a pack and play. There were also countless social service organizations that I was able to establish assistance with.

Let me not forget, the use of a maternity photo on the front cover of Healthy Start brochures which are recognized around the area. Rather than boast about it sighting these brochures reminds me that I represent the good that comes from Healthy Start. My struggle, my hour of need, is used to bring hope to other mothers who feel overwhelmed during pregnancy. Those who chose to hold themselves accountable but just need the opportunity for a support system to shine it’s light. I see the brochures and I am humbled. My struggle is real but how I proceed to handle it is being observed. I’m a role model for those who too seek out the support of healthy start.

I’m reminded of a quote from my Dad which I have taken as his greatest lesson, “The way to find success is to give up yourself and give to others. . . . Go out of your way to benefit your fellow man, and the return is phenomenal.”. I live every day with this concept close to my heart!” – Meagan McMullem

Meagan was photographed by local Photographer, Peter Acker, and featured in the Healthy Start Coalition’s new “Guide to Programs” brochure.

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Can Healthy Start help you?

Tara Tomlinson PhotographyCongratulations on your pregnancy or new baby!

Healthy Start is here to provide professional, confidential services to help you and your baby, at no cost to you.

At your first prenatal visit, you will be given a Healthy Start screening form. Even if you are not referred to Healthy Start by your doctor, midwife, or birthing center, you and your baby may still be eligible for free classes and services.

If you live in Sarasota County and are pregnant or have a baby under 3 years old, you may be eligible for Healthy Start.

Some of the services available are:

  • Childbirth Education
  • Breastfeeding Education and Support
  • Parenting Education
  • Infant & Child CPR
  • Support for Quitting Smoking
  • Counseling / Therapy
  • Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga
  • Developmental Screenings
  • Referrals to Community Resources
  • And more!

Healthy-Start-Program-LogoCall us today to learn more!

  • Healthy Start Program: (941) 861-2905
  • Healthy Start Coalition: (941) 373-7070
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New Partnership: Walgreen’s Preconception Health Project

10543763_10154349390805484_2067223444_nWe are excited to announce our new partnership with local Walgreen’s stores! Starting July 1st, Walgreen’s customers shopping for Pregnancy Tests will also be offered free informative hand-outs about prenatal and preconception health topics, with information from the CDC’s “Show Your Love” Pre- and Interconception Health Campaign.

Topics on the hand-out include:

  • Making a plan – whether to prevent a future pregnancy or get as healthy as possible for your “baby-to-be”
  • Eating Healthy Foods
  • Being Active and Exercising
  • Taking Folic Acid Daily
  • Reducing Stress
  • Protecting yourself from STI’s (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and other Infections
  • Avoiding Harmful Substances
  • Talking to your doctor about health conditions and other healthy behaviors

The hand-outs are currently available at two Walgreen’s stores: the intersections of Lockwood Ridge and University Parkway, and Lockwood Ridge and 17th Street in Sarasota. We hope to eventualy offer them in all Sarasota County stores.

We are grateful to Walgreen’s for this fantastic opportunity. This is a great way to reach pregnant women and women of childbearing age at a crucial time to promote healthier pregnancies and pregnancy planning.


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Welcome to our Blog!

931238_10151608524156407_1665736860_nWelcome to the official blog of the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County! Here you will find posts about our events, local initiatives, and information about important pregnancy and infant health topics.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions for posts, please contact us below!

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Are you pregnant?

Just found out you’re pregnant? Learn what you can do now to have a healthy baby:

  • iStock_000007096555XSmallCall a prenatal care provider now to schedule your first prenatal care appointment.
  • If you need help paying for prenatal care, apply for Pregnancy Medicaid as soon as possible.
  • The first three months your baby is growing are very important. Make sure to take prenatal vitamins, including 400 mcg of folic acid daily. It is available at any drug store. (It is best to start taking 400 mcg of folic acid six months prior to pregnancy.)
  • If you smoke, now is the time to quit!  If you need help quitting, call the Healthy Start Program at (941) 861-2905, or call the Florida Quit-Line at 1-877-822-6669.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages. There is no  “safe” amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
  • If you are taking prescription drugs, contact your doctor immediately to make sure they are safe for your baby.
  • Visit our Pregnancy Resource Center at 1750 17th Street, Building A, in Sarasota from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, for information to help give your baby the best chance for a healthy start in life.
If You Need Help With: Call:
Applying for a Sarasota County Health Department Clinic Card • Eligibility Staff, SCHD, (941) 861-2900
Pregnancy Medicaid www.myflorida.com/accessflorida
• MomCare, (941) 373-7070, x305
Becoming more healthy during pregnancy • Your Prenatal Care Provider
• Pregnancy Resource Center (1750 17th Street, Building A, Sarasota, Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM)
• Healthy Start Program, (941) 861-2905
Free pregnancy test •  Sarasota County Health Department, Birthways Family Birth Center, Sarasota Pregnancy Center

Prenatal Care Providers in Sarasota County

Area code for all numbers is 941


At Sarasota Memorial Hospital (Sarasota County):

Bee Ridge Obstetrics & Gynecology, 3920 Bee RidgeRd., Bldg. B, Suite. B, Sarasota,34233, 921-5302**
Women’s Care Specialists, 1921 Waldemere Street, Suite 802, Sarasota, 34239, 917-7888***
OB & GYN Specialists, Inc., 1921 Waldemere Street, Suite 307, Sarasota, 34239, 917-8561**
Department of Health Sarasota County, 2200 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota, 34237, 861-2878*
South County Family Health Center, 6950 Outreach Way, North Port, 34287, 861-3820*
Associates in Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2439 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, 34239, 955-8076**
Gulf Coast Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1950 Arlington St., Suite 203, Sarasota, 34239, 379-6331**
University Park Obstetrics & Gynecology, University Health Park Bldg 1, 2401 University Pkwy, Unit 201, Sarasota, 34243, 359-8300

At Bay Front Health Hospital (Charlotte County):

Comprehensive Women’s Clinic, 15061 Tamiami Trail, North Port, 34287, 423-5035**



Birthways Family Birth Center, 4222 McIntosh Lane, Sarasota. 34232, 366-BABY*
Cathy Matthews Home Birth Services, 4944 Midnight Lane, Sarasota, 34235, 351-2102*
Rosemary Birthing Home, 800 Central Avenue, Sarasota, 34236, 330-9966*
LifeSong Midwifery, 5857 Babian Rd., North Port, 34291, 441-6410*


All providers accept private insurance or cash. See stars for those who accept Medicaid.
*Accepts temporary and full Medicaid
** Accepts full Medicaid
*** Does not accept Medicaid

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