Tracy Russell Executive Director Mother and Child Health Coalition
The month of May has been a blur of activity at Nurture KC, simultaneously proving the capabilities and limits of our organization. At last count, we have:
~ Distributed 280 bags of produce to Healthy Start families
~ Provided grocery store gift cards, worth $125 each, to all 237 Healthy Start families through an emergency relief grant – totaling approximately $30,000
~ Served as a COVID-19 testing site in partnership with Truman Medical Centers and Shepherd Center
~ Conducted a fundraising campaign (running through May) with all proceeds dedicated to supplying food to our Healthy Start participants 
These are just the activities related to our COVID-19 response and do not capture the daily work of diaper deliveries, car seat distribution, safe sleep education and one-on-one support to families that continues throughout this extraordinary time. While our team has risen to this challenge, I am struck by the limits of our impact when state policies aren’t aligned in this effort. 
The Missouri and Kansas legislatures have adjourned their regular sessions for the year. Kansas has again come up empty-handed in a bid to expand Medicaid eligibility to 130,000 Kansans, defeating a Senate amendment to do just that in the final 24 hours of the session. In Missouri, health advocates beat back a last-minute attempt to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients at a time when national unemployment approaches depression-era levels. With 36 states having gone before us in adopting this important health policy, we have the benefit of hindsight. Infant mortality in expansion states is half that of non-expansion states. Furthermore, women without health insurance are 3 to 4 times more likely to die of pregnancy complications than those who are insured. While we will continue to serve families in the 14 ZIP codes of Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS with the highest infant mortality rates, there is so much more that could be done at a state level to improve the health of our moms and babies across Missouri and Kansas. 
Despite the status quo, I am hopeful that the tide may be turning. In the final days of the Missouri legislative session, an amendment was adopted that would extend Medicaid coverage for women with postpartum depression up to 12 months so that they can receive necessary mental health care. (Current law ends eligibility at 60 days postpartum.) This provision is contingent upon federal approval. Missourians will also have the opportunity to decide for themselves the benefit of Medicaid expansion as it will appear on the ballot this year. Public health measures require and deserve an investment that prioritizes the good of the whole. Investing in moms and babies reflects the value that we place on our most vulnerable and a belief that we have an obligation to ensure healthy future generations. The time for Medicaid expansion is now. This is the policy that could impact family health and change the culture in a way that individual organizations cannot on their own.
Thank you for your support as we continue this important work! 

Tracy Russell,
Executive Director, Nurture KC
 Open to all: MAIC quarterly meeting on June 3
This event is free and open to the public! Come see what Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC) is all about. This quarterly meeting will take place via Zoom – register here – on June 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Topics include vaccine updates, including COVID-19 trial progress; resources to encourage families to continue attending their well-child check ups; and small group break-out sessions for discussions.
If you are a Nurture KC supporter and want to learn more about MAIC, we encourage you to attend. MAIC includes both concerned citizens and health department workers who want to increase vaccine confidence in the KC metro area. MAIC works to achieve its mission through collaboration with community partners, advocacy, research and education.
Save the date: Nurture KC's annual meeting is July 17

This year’s topic is “Addressing Maternal Mortality: Driving Data into Action.” You don’t want to miss this motivating presentation from national speaker and black maternal mortality advocate, Saleemah McNeil! We’ll also look at local initiatives and strategies to improve birth outcomes for mothers in Kansas and Missouri.

This meeting is July 17 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. It will take place virtually through Zoom. Register here. This educational activity is provided by Nurture KC and Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

More information will be posted on our web site in June.
Our Board of Directors adds two members

Reagan Cussimanio is the Director of Governmental Affairs for The University of Kansas Health System, which includes the Kansas City, St. Francis (Topeka), HaysMed, Great Bend and Pawnee Valley campuses. She works with local, state and federal elected officials around health policy and the impact of legislative changes on the hospital system and community as a whole. Much of her time is spent addressing concerns with access to care, specifically Medicaid expansion and telemedicine. Prior to this role, she spent time working in governmental affairs with nonprofit organizations focused on cancer prevention and other statewide health organizations, such as the Kansas Health Foundation. 
 Erin Gabert is the Sr. Community Impact Director for the American Heart Association. In this role she manages the community impact team and works to address the social determinants of health through policy, systems and environmental change. Much of her focus has been on early childhood education and care, tobacco and vaping, transportation and healthy food access. Erin also works with health clinics and systems on quality initiatives around Hypertension, Cholesterol and Type 2 Diabetes diagnoses and management. She builds relationships with community partners and collaborates to improve the health of KC metro residents. Prior to this role, Erin spent 14 years working in marketing, events and public relations. She started her career 22 years ago with the Walt Disney World Company.
Partner Spotlight: Children's Mercy provides guidance on timely educational programming

Angie Knackstedt, BSN, RN, NPD-BC, is the Program Manager of Health Literacy & Nursing Bioethics at Children's Mercy Kansas City. She is integral in planning Nurture KC's educational programs, such as the upcoming annual meeting, which provide continuing education credits for health professionals and community advocates.

"My passion for helping children and families be as healthy and safe as possible has guided my work over the years with this organization," Angie says.

She has been a member of Nurture KC since 1996 when Children's Mercy and other community organizations came together to address low immunization rates across the KC metro area. This led to many more collaborations and developing education for such topics as immunization and child safety. Angie was on our Board of Directors from 2000 to 2013, involved in many committees and even served as Board Chair. We thank Angie for her continued leadership and dedication to our mission of reducing infant death and improving family health.
Nurture KC is in the news! Watch a sampling of the newscasts ...

Our Executive Director, Tracy Russell, was busy on multiple TV broadcasts a nd radio (forward clip to 26:28) talking about Nurture KC's #GivingTuesdayNow campaign. #GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of philanthropy, which took place May 5 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. All donations made to Nurture KC throughout May will help the families we serve put food on the table. This is their most urgent need as many of our families are out of jobs, and thus income, as the pandemic has hit them particularly hard.

Nurture KC also was featured by TV station KSHB-41 on May 19 when we hosted free, drive-up COVID-19 testing in our parking lot in conjunction with Truman Medical Centers. It was available to any Missouri resident with symptoms. We had a steady stream of cars for the 3 hours of testing. Here are a few pictures ...
To our members who recently renewed their memberships:
Carey Van Kirk
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Donations in any amount will help us continue our work of improving the lives of KC mentro area families. For detailed information about our programs, CLICK HERE.
1111 W. 39th St., Ste 100
Kansas City MO 64111