every woman nc blog

May 31, 2016


Martina is the new Cape Fear Regional Coordinator for the March of Dimes in North Carolina!

She previously worked with Cumberland County Department of Public Health where she focused on reducing teen pregnancy by providing evidence-based comprehensive sexual health education to the community. Martina received her Master of Public Health from Walden University in 2011 and a Bachelor of Science Degree from North Carolina Central University in 2008. She has supported undergraduate and graduate level students in meeting requirements for graduation at various universities in the area. Martina is passionate about reproductive health and adolescent health issues and is eager to enhance efforts to improve health for families in North...

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March 1, 2016

by the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign

Each year, many of us begin making resolutions to eat less, exercise more and manage our stress. ‘Taking care of yourself to become a healthier you’ is a key mantra of the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign (NCPHC). This message is communicated all year through education and trainings on health topics such as healthy weight, folic acid supplementation, tobacco cessation, reproductive life planning, early prenatal care and having a medical home. Each topic recommendation may help lower one’s risk of having a premature baby.

Although health care providers are on the front lines of promoting general health and wellbeing prior to pregnancy, it is not enough to casually mention these recommendations to patients without counseling them on these topics. The NCPHC encourages providers to promote preconception health as part of their routine visits with all patients of reproductive age. The...

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January 29, 2016

Jennifer Vickery

Please join us in welcoming Jennifer Vickery to the team as our new Western Regional Coordinator!

Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences from The University of Georgia where she majored in Family and Consumer Sciences Education with a certificate in English as a Second Language. She is currently a graduate student at Lenoir-Rhyne University studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Prior to joining the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign (NCPHC) team, she worked for Goodwill Northwest North Carolina for two years where she developed the Goodwill Girls Empowerment Group. The group’s mission aimed to provide a safe place for at-risk female teenagers to explore issues they faced on a daily basis.

After attending a Folic Acid Community Ambassador (...

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January 11, 2016

by Michaela Penix

In May, I attended the fabulous Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina Annual Conference, where they announced their rebranding with a new name and mission. They are now SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens), and they are focusing on a variety of sexual health issues including healthy relationships, sexually transmissible infections, and, of course, adolescent pregnancy prevention. This was exciting for supporters of life course health initiatives and more comprehensive sexual health education for adolescents. Trena Saunders, an accomplished sexual health educator, was the breakfast keynote speaker for the last day, and left us all with a lot to think about when it comes to more comprehensive reproductive health education and outreach.

Ms. Saunders described her work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LBGTQ) youth. Through her presentation she painted a very vivid portrait of the unique issues...

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November 10, 2015

by Steffie Duginske – Western Regional Coordinator

Every time I hear the Flaming Lips song, Yoshimi battles part 1, from their album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, I can’t help but think that it could be the theme song for the NC Preconception Health Campaign when it comes to our multivitamin/folic acid message. Listening will make reading the rest of this article more enjoyable and understandable, but not totally necessary. Check it out here:

Yoshimi battles her “evil robots” by “taking lots of vitamins”. I interpret this as: Yoshimi must have a very good understanding of the importance of taking a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid, because if she becomes pregnant, it reduces her chance of having a baby with neural tube defects by up to 70%. Ok, so it’s a little far-fetched to think that...

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October 13, 2015

by Brenda Stubbs

I think most people – health providers and patients alike – understand the dangers and overall health risks of tobacco use, even those who currently smoke or use tobacco.

Add substance use or mental health disorders into the mix, and the risk goes up even more, as smoking rates are even higher in these vulnerable populations. Look at the statistics: 90% of women who use opioids, along with 77-93% of patients in treatment for substance use or addiction, and 60-88% of people with mental health disorders – ranging from depression to bipolar to schizophrenia – ALSO SMOKE.

For many people in these populations, smoking may SEEM like the least of their problems – but it is certainly the one problem that may be killing them at higher rates.

People with mental health or substance use problems who also smoke experience more symptoms, more hospitalizations, and typically require more and ...

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August 26, 2015

by Eleanor Snell

North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign Cape Fear Regional Coordinator…wow, that’s a mouth full and my new job title! After ten years I have returned to work for March of Dimes for which I formally served as a Community Director in Wilmington.

During my hiatus from this wonderful organization, I worked for seven years as an Education and Training Specialist for the North Carolina Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission. I traveled throughout eastern North Carolina educating those who sell and serve alcohol to the public, including ABC stores, restaurants, bars, and convenience stores about state alcohol laws. I worked with employees on military bases who sell and serve alcohol, and provided alcohol education programs to parents, civic groups and students from elementary to college age.

One of the most frequent questions I received was “Is it against the law to sell alcohol to a pregnant woman?” In North Carolina...

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June 11, 2015

Please welcome Eleanor Snell, Cape Fear Coordinator to the March of Dimes and the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign.

A Fayetteville native, Eleanor earned an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from St. Mary’s College and furthered her education at East Carolina University, completing a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. She has worked as a Training and Education Specialist for the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission and is also a former Community Director for the Southeastern Division of March of Dimes in Wilmington.

Eleanor will be serving health providers and the community at large, and her outreach will have an emphasis on healthy weight, folic acid and the statewide multivitamin distribution program.

Eleanor's personal message:
“I am fully...

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January 5, 2015

Please welcome our newest regional coordinator, Michaela Penix! As the Eastern Regional Program Coordinator, Michaela provides preconception health education, training, and support in 29 counties in eastern North Carolina.

Michaela has served as a Public Health Educator in Cumberland County, specializing in maternal and child health and safety. While in Cumberland County, Michaela worked to help reduce infant mortality and unintentional injuries in children through her grant initiative, The Baby Store Project. This grant allowed pregnant and parenting women in Cumberland County to earn free and safe baby items by attending education classes and using maternity services offered through the Cumberland County Department of Public Health. Michaela has also been an active part of health research in Eastern North Carolina and served as an Instructor of Health at East...

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December 29, 2014

by Steffie Duginske

If anyone has talked with me in the past 6 months or so, you have probably noticed I can’t make it through a training, discussion, or conversation without bringing up the ACE Study; which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences.  I learned about the study through the Innovative Approaches Project housed within Buncombe County Health and Human Services, who has a dedicated sub-committee collaborating to address this important research. When I mention the ACE Study, some have heard about it, but many have not.  Through my work with the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign, we have a long list of goals including improving women’s wellness, reducing health disparities, reducing chronic health conditions, and improving reproductive outcomes - and I can’t help but connect the ACE study findings to the work of the NC Preconception Health Campaign. ACEs are common; nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at...

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