Monthly archives: September, 2010

Infant Mortality and Racism Town Hall Meeting

Save The Date

Town Hall Meeting

In Honor of the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act

Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant

Infant Mortality and Racism

What is Holding Us Back and How Do We Move Forward?

Friday, October 29, 2010

UIC School of Public Health

1603 W. Taylor Street

(1st Floor Auditorium)


Free Admission

Join us as we celebrate 75 years of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programming (Title V of the Social Security Act) and as we move into the future of MCH by placing increased attention on infant mortality and racism.

The agenda includes a keynote address by Richard David, MD, Neonatologist at John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago.  Dr. David is featured in the documentary “Unnatural Causes: Is Racism Making Us Sick? Dr. David’s talk will be followed by a family panel discussion and a working lunch to identify action steps to move us forward together to address issues surrounding racism and infant mortality in Illinois.  We will also engage in a cultural sensitivity exercise to explore issues around racism in our society.

Lunch Provided. RSVP Required by October 15.

Please RSVP to Cynthia Jakkarigari at

312-814-4727 or

Registration limited to 100 participants.

Sponsored by:  Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Chapter of the March of Dimes, the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, and the Maternal and Child Health Program, Division of Community Health Sciences, UIC School of Public Health

MCH Events at APHA, Nov 2010

For those of you attending APHA in Denver this November 2010,  please consider getting involved in the many MCH-related events taking place.  Below is information about a networking breakfast from the Association of Teachers of MCH (ATMCH) as well as other events.


Dear ATMCH Members,

This year during the ATMCH Fifth Annual Greg Alexander Faculty/Student Breakfast during APHA, we are holding our first ever speed mentoring event!

The breakfast will be held on Sunday, November 7, 2010 from 8-9:30am in Room 502 of the Colorado Convention Center.  During the mentoring event, students and faculty will have the opportunity to network in rotating rounds. This event is a great opportunity to network, share research interests, and find out about possible job opportunities and collaborations.

Please RSVP to Kate Howe at by October 15, 2010 if you can attend.

We look forward to seeing you there!

ATMCH Student/Faculty Breakfast Planning Committee
(Alice Richman, Tara Trudnak, Natalie Hernandez, Ndidi Amutah, Russ Kirby)

Don’t miss these other ATMCH and MCH Events during APHA!

  • ATMCH Business Meeting
    12:00-3:30 PM, Sunday, November 7, 2010
    Room 402, Colorado Convention Center
  • Greg Alexander Outstanding Student Paper Session

10:30 AM-12 PM, Monday November 8, 2010

  • Martha May Eliot Luncheon

12:30-2:00 PM, Monday November 8, 2010

  • 2010 Loretta P. Lacey Award Dinner
    TBD (most likely Tuesday, November 9, 2010)

(See more events at:

PhD Student Yuka Asada

Hi everyone.  Below is a story written by Yuka Asada, one of our new MCH PhD students (Fall 2010).  Yuka is from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and has entered this story into a FastRecipes contest for students studying in the US.

Welcome to UIC Yuka!


Grandpa’s Ozoni

by Yuka Asada

Ozoni is a traditional Japanese soup made for New Year’s Day. The main ingredients are broth and mochi, a glutinous rice cake. Beyond these unifying ingredients, the typical ozoni is difficult to describe, as it varies widely between regions and even between households in the same town. In my mother’s hometown of Owada, ozoni is a clear bonito broth with komatsuna leaves (Japanese mustard spinach). Just a half-hour’s train ride away, in my father’s hometown of Shibamata, ozoni is a cloudy broth with taro, chicken, and spinach. Even the shape of mochi varies across regions: rectangular in the east and circular in the west. While part of me is baffled that a country the size of California has myriad versions of the same dish, another part of me is not surprised at all; it is consistent with the regional and complex nature of Japanese cuisine and the culture’s fierce commitment to preserving tradition.

A few winters ago, I made ozoni with Grandpa at his home in Owada, Japan. While cooking, Grandpa told the story of the time he asked for my grandmother’s hand in marriage, which just happened to be around New Year’s. After sitting down at Grandma’s house, her parents offered him tea and ozoni before they started to discuss the matter of his visit. Grandpa, however, refused the soup—a brash gesture for a penniless youth who was asking for their oldest daughter’s hand in marriage. Grandpa recognized ozoni as a clear broth with komatsuna. Accepting the strange cloudy soup offered to him, with its chicken and taro, would have been tantamount to renouncing his hometown. “How dare they call that ozoni!”, he recollected years later. Luckily, my great grandparents had understood his allegiance to tradition.

Working with Grandpa in his kitchen, I observed the ritualistic preparation of ozoni. The daikon leaves were hung up to dry weeks in advance. On New Year’s Eve, we began by carefully passing the dried daikon leaves over an open flame until they were crisp. I crushed them with my hands until they resembled dried herbs. Next, we placed handfuls of large, delicate bonito flakes in a pot of water with a dash of soy sauce and simmered the mixture for a few hours. On New Year’s morning, we cut komatsuna leaves and placed them in the broth along with the mochi. In hot broth, the mochi transformed from a hard patty to a gooey, delicious mound. Finally, after portioning the soup into bowls, the dried daikon was heaped on top. After raising our shot glasses of sake, it was time to eat.

When Grandpa ate something delicious, he would close his eyes, breathe in deeply, and let out the most satisfied sigh. Then he would laugh from the bottom of his belly, open his eyes, and exclaim, “You must try this! It is the most delicious thing I’ve tasted!”

Indeed it was. The bonito flavor was subtle yet complex, and the toasted daikon added an earthy flavor. The combination of the komatsuna’s crunchiness with the gooey omochi provided the perfect mouth feel. It tasted of comfort and home.

Through cooking together, Grandpa and I shared not only our love for food, but also for one another. While this experience is not unique to Japanese culture, it is significant in a culture where emotions are seldom outwardly expressed. The hours spent meticulously preparing the best ingredients and adhering to cooking rituals are true to the precision demonstrated in other cultural practices in Japan, such as theatre and floral arrangement. Yet in the case of food, care and attention are paid also because of the love for the ones we are feeding. And by accepting the meal with words of thanks (“itadaki masu”) and spending time together to eat, the exchange of love is implicit. Ozoni is especially representative of this cultural nuance, as New Year is a time where everyone—even the most workaholic ‘salaryman’—goes home to spend time with their families. It is a time to be reminded of one’s roots by enjoying a home-cooked dish that is unique to your region.

Growing up, I viewed cooking with Grandpa as a way to spend time with a man I deeply cherished. I realize now that my time with him also connected me to my Japanese heritage. As it turns out, ozoni was the last dish that Grandpa taught me before he passed.  While I cannot cook with Grandpa again, I will always cook for others with the love that he instilled in me.

Written by Naomi M. Morris, M.D., MPH, FAAP, FACPM

I always wanted to be a doctor.  My father was a doctor. My mother was a concert pianist. She was always practicing.  That seemed too difficult. Furthermore, she told me not to become a musician. “You won’t be able to support yourself.”

When I was 12,  my father took me to visit a female physician, leaving so that we could talk.  She told mer not to become a doctor because it’s a hard life.

When I turned 16 my parents introduced me to a friend’s son who was18, a student at Stanford, planning to study medicine. Four years later, after my junior year in college, we married and entered medical school together in the same class. He became interested in Neurology, and I in Pediatrics.

We wanted children. After graduation we accepted one year rotating internships at LA County General Hospital. We scientifically figured when to get pregnant, and one month after the internship was over our #1 son was born.

We moved to Boston.  I took 6 months off  to learn more about motherhood, and then started training in Pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

We had practically no income, so I found a job at the Massachusetts State Health Department in the Division of MCH, the head of which wasDr. Sallie Saunders. She became my mentor, and saw to it that I had many challenging experiences all over the State.  I not only learned about public health in that position, but I also learned about politics and public health. The MD daughter of a state legislator wanted my job.  Dr. Saunders said: “I don’t need this position.  I am going to close it. Why don’t you go to the Harvard School of Public Health and get  a public health degree?”

So I did. While waiting to be accepted we decided it was the right time to plan for the next pregnancy.  I entered the SPH pregnant.  That was no problem for the Chair of MCH:  Dr. Martha May Eliot.  While the rest of my cohort was doing field training during the Spring break, I was delivering son #2 at the Boston Lying-In Hospital.  My assignment was to critique the experience in that setting.  How could I not love MCH when everything fit together so well for me?!

I have subsequently worked for a county health department in Virginia while my husband was in the Navy; saw pediatric patients,did research and taught at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health; and worked for the Guam Health Department as Advisor to the Chief Health Officer (no one else had an MPH on the island) during a sabbatical year.

Clinically I have always done outpatient pediatrics, but my Boards are in Preventive Medicine. Prevention of problems always plays a large role in the practice of MCH so it made sense to me to learn all I could about keeping people healthy.

Since my last 30 years have been here, I can only add that I am always inspired by our new generations of students. And I can tell you about my two sons.  No.1 has an MPH and practices psychiatry; #2 is a neurologist, like his father was.
Environment  and heredity—what choice did they have? Is that what happened to me?

I feel very fortunate,  and wish all the readers good luck!

Naomi Morris, MD

New Executive Director for IL MCH Coalition

The UIC MCHP is very pleased to share with you the following story about one of our very own, Janine Lewis.  Please join us in welcoming Janine as the new Executive Director for the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition!


Janine H. Lewis, MPH, PhD(c) has recently been hired as the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (IMCHC). Her passion for improving health outcomes for mothers, children, and families, coupled with her extensive academic and practice-based knowledge, make her uniquely qualified to lead the organization.

In her over 10 years of experience in maternal and child (MCH) health practice and research, Janine has built a broad portfolio of proficiencies, most recently as the President of Lewis Health Solutions, a consulting firm that works with non-profit and governmental agencies across the United States.  Previously, she worked as Director of Health Promotions at the Westside Health Authority in Chicago, and as the Associate Director of Programs at the March of Dimes Illinois Chapter, where she helped to establish and maintain the prematurity and folic acid awareness campaigns in Illinois.

Janine received her MPH at Boston University in international health, and is a PhD candidate in MCH programs, methods, and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.  Her dissertation research focuses on the measurement of stressors in the lives of African-American women, and how stressors may lead to adverse birth outcomes such as premature birth, low birthweight, and infant mortality.

In addition to being an author and lecturer, Janine serves in the MCH Section of the American Public Health Association, and on Boards of the March of Dimes Illinois Chapter and Family Focus Evanston.

Written by Amanda Giese, MPH student, University of Illinois at Chicago

Following graduation from college, I decided to take a two-week celebratory trip out of the country. I have always enjoyed doing the unexpected , so when I heard some colleagues of mine owned a travel company in Afghanistan, I knew right away it was the perfect destination for me. In addition to the excitement and eye-opening moments I was sure to experience on the trip, I was also hoping the excursion would clarify my thoughts regarding what I wanted to do with my life.

The adventure ended up meeting and even surpassing all of my expectations. I found the country to be beautiful and nothing like the hostile and uninhabitable environment depicted by the media. At the same time, I saw the suffering and the incredible need of the Afghan population. My heart broke for the women and children who were experiencing hardships most Americans could never imagine. As I traveled throughout some of the rural parts of northeastern Afghanistan, I saw the impoverished conditions the people lived in and the scarcity of their resources. The few schools were at best half-constructed and roofless buildings with four or five classrooms. Often, they were merely flimsy tents that could be blown over by the slightest breeze.

Even worse were the medical facilities, or more appropriately, the absence of medical facilities. While Kabul and some of the larger cities had a fair number of clinics and hospitals, the rural communities most often had none. These rural populations received limited medical services and knew very little, if any, basic health information. It is not at all uncommon for mothers and their babies to die during childbirth in the country. The most current data available suggests one in every four children in Afghanistan will not reach their fifth birthday (WHO, 2008). Witnessing first-hand the dire circumstances in which most Afghans live, I knew something had to be done, but specifically what that was, I hadn’t the slightest clue at the time.

I left Afghanistan with a heavy heart yearning to see the people of Afghanistan experience true hope and joy but continued to lack clear direction about what to do next. One particular memory, however, of an encounter with a certain woman in a market in Kabul would not leave my mind. As I was shopping for souvenirs for my family, this woman, covered from head to toe in a chadari, or what we know as a burqua, tugged at my sleeve and pleaded with me in Dari, the Afghan dialect of Persian. Although I could not understand a word of what she was saying, I could sense the desperation in her voice. My friend who had been living in the area for some time responded, “She is telling you about her sick child and asking you for help.”

Four months later, I was sitting in the humble home of a friend of mine in the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru. My friend told me about the miscarriage she had experienced only a month before I arrived. It had been an extremely hard month for her following the tragedy, but she told me her story without shedding a tear. Instead, she expressed her hope of having a healthy baby in the future.

The two memories never faded from my mind. They led me to begin to research careers related to disease prevention and health promotion among women and children a couple months after my trip to Peru. Through that research, I discovered UIC’s Maternal and Child Health Program and decided to apply to the program and pursue a Master of Public Health degree.

The memory of those two women continues to move me forward in my MPH program. I hope to some day head abroad again to work with women and youth to witness the creation of positive social change in their communities. While at the time, I did not know how to help that woman in the market in Kabul, and I could not guarantee that my Peruvian friend’s next pregnancy would be without complications, I have pursued this maternal and child health career path in many ways to honor their stories and hopefully make an impact in the lives of many other women whose stories I have yet to hear.


World Health Organization. (2008). World Health Statistics (2006 data). Retrieved September 9, 2010 from

Never Say Never, Loving Maternal Child Health

Written by Julia Marynus, RN, BA, Director of Public Health Family Services, Stephenson County Health Department

Who knew the day I became a nurse I would be working in the Maternal Child Health field?  Certainly, not me; I became a nurse because my boyfriend of ten years had suffered a work accident that resulted in brain injury.  I was all about rehabilitation and traumatic brain injuries—that is where I was headed.  Now, mind you, the only nursing book I returned to the college book store was my Maternal Child Health book, because I was never going to do anything in nursing that dealt with moms and babies.  But, God had another plan for me.

Years after my friend’s accident I moved on with my life, married, and became the step-mother to two beautiful young girls.  While I loved my work on the Van Matre Rehabilitation Unit at Rockford Memorial, my heart ached when the weekend would arrive and I would be off to work; leaving my family behind.  Between weekend work and holiday rotation, I feel like I missed so much.

Then one day while I was visiting my local health department, the door to public health and maternal child health was flung wide open.  I began my journey as a Medical Case Manager for children who were in Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) care.  Soon after that I became the program coordinator for the Family Case Management program—also known at that time as Healthy Moms, Healthy Kids; a program working hand-in-hand with WIC to reduce infant mortality rates in Illinois.

It seemed I learned something new on a daily basis, and the wonderful world of networking—Maternal Child Health has the best! In 1999, I participated in UIC’s Institute for Maternal Child Health Leadership (MCHIL).  My local project brought attention to the need for certified car seat safety technicians, along with several small grants to purchase car seats and open a program at the Stephenson County Health Department—which still operates today.  My group project brought attention to the need for students who are diagnosed with asthma to have an asthma action plan on file at their local school, as well as making it alright for children to carry their inhalers should an emergency situation arise.  A statewide round of Asthma 101 trainings with the help of the American Lung Association aided in making changes in many schools.  Some great accomplishments!

Several years later I participated as a mentor for another group of Maternal Child Health Leaders in the same program.  This group focused on the identification and referral for treatment for post-partum depression.  My group’s work in this area helped bring attention to the need for regular screening and the opportunity for health departments to implement screening within their Family Case Management and WIC programs.

During my work at the local health department and through networking with other leaders participating in MCHIL; I learned about the need for local representation on a regional child death review team.  I have been participating on this team for ten years and cannot tell you how rewarding it is to see so many caring people from a variety of professions across the state come together for the benefit of children.

In 2000 the Healthy Families Illinois program was implemented under my direction in Stephenson County; and I have gone on to add doula services, and All Our Kids Network, and Teen Parent Services to the array of programs under my supervision and leadership.

In 2003, I was recognized by the Illinois Public Health Nursing Section for my contributions to public health in Illinois; in 2005, I was the recipient of the YWCA’s Women of Excellence award for work within the community; and in 2008, I received recognition from UIC’s College of Nursing’s for advancing nursing leadership in Illinois.

In October I will be celebrating 15 years of work at the health department, and when I look back at all the people I have met, the lives I have touched, I can hardly believe it.

The recognition for doing the work I love is wonderful; however the most rewarding part of the job is the paycheck!  No, not the paycheck you get every two weeks—it is the paycheck you receive daily from the clients and families you work with and serve—it is the paycheck to the heart! I cash at least one daily and feel like I am the richest woman on the face of the earth.  This is what inspires me and every once in awhile I think back to the day I said never, and smile.  The joke’s on me and it was a great one!

By the way, both my step-daughters are UIC grads, one in business and the other in health sciences—maybe a little bit of never will rub off on them. I guess only time will tell.

75th Anniversary of Title V – Emerging Leaders Blog Submissions

In recognition of the rich history of its programs, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) is commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act.  Since 1935, under the Title V mandate, MCHB has supported continuing education, and later, graduate education programs, that develop the next generation of leaders in the maternal child health (MCH) field.   As part of the commemoration activities taking place, MCHB invites current trainees to contribute to the 75th Anniversary of Title V – Emerging Leaders Blog.

The purpose of the 75th Anniversary of Title V- Emerging Leaders Blog is to generate discussion among MCH leadership trainees about the significance of the Title V program and its contributions to the health and well-being of women, children, adolescents and families.  The blog is a safe space for trainees to share commentary, reflections and personal experiences related to the significance of Title V programs and services, as well as leadership issues related to the programs and services.

Blog submissions may be sent to the MCH Training Resource Center at  Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis through October 14, 2010.  New entries will be posted weekly in September and October (until the 75th anniversary celebration on October 20, 2010.)

Blog submissions should not exceed 500 words. The following are sample blog topics. You may choose from one of the examples below or generate your own Title V MCH Leadership related topic.

•  Experiences as an MCH Leadership Trainee  (e.g., personal commentary; description of an event that has significantly affected your training experience)

•  History of Title V Program (e.g., commentary on specific events; lessons learned from the history that speak to current issues affecting the field)

•  Leadership (e.g., characteristics then and now; regarding a particular MCH issue or population; what will be needed in next 75 years of the program¬preparing future leaders)

Questions about the 75th Anniversary of Title V – Emerging Leaders Blog may be directed to Aisha Moore at Altarum Institute ( or Sue Lin in MCHB’s Division of Research, Training and Education (