WIC Picture.jpg

Shown, left to right, are Deshelia Harris, peer counselor supervisor for Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Health Departments; Dannah Burch, deputy nutrition services director for Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Health Departments; Carmen Henderson, Labor & Delivery clinical manager at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital; Dana Mizell, NICU clinical manager at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital; Cathy Harris, director of Women’s Services at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital; Leigha Fallis, chief nursing officer at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital; and Marilyn Beard, lactation consultant at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital.

CONYERS — Parents of babies in the NICU, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, take every precaution to avoid unnecessary exposure to germs.

For Rockdale County mothers in this situation, who also need financial assistance to obtain healthy foods for themselves, a breast pump, infant formula, or other resources related to nutrition, there was previously an added challenge: going to a government office to apply for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or the WIC Program.

A new partnership between Piedmont Rockdale Hospital and WIC will help ensure that eligible patients know about and can take full advantage of the program.

The partnership means information about qualifying for WIC will be presented at a virtual NICU parent support group meeting, hosted by the local health department, that meets on the first and third Wednesday of every month. Then, on the first and third Thursday of every month, a WIC representative will visit the Piedmont Rockdale campus in a mobile van to provide services, like printing vouchers, to complete enrollment and start benefits.

“We are excited for the opportunity to make WIC easier to access for our patients,” said Leigha Fallis, chief nursing officer at Piedmont Rockdale.

In addition to income and state residency requirements, eligibility for WIC rests on an individual’s “nutrition risk” and pregnancy complications and poor pregnancy outcomes qualify as risk factors. So, this program can be especially beneficial to mothers who have premature newborns.

“We hope that by connecting more moms in need to these nutritional resources, babies will leave our NICU healthier and go on to become healthy children,” said Dana Mizell, clinical manager of the NICU at Piedmont Rockdale.

WIC may also be available to any pregnant, postpartum, and/or breastfeeding woman, infant or child up to age 5 who meets certain criteria. Participants receive funds to purchase nutritious foods, like iron-fortified cereal, fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, and peanut butter.

For more information about the Level III NICU at Piedmont Rockdale, visit piedmont.org.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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