In December of 2022, we received a message from a coalition member within the Healthy Start family in South Florida that told the story of one mom who had been in our Healthy Start program here at Capital Area Healthy Start in Tallahassee. We were so touched by the retelling of her experience, we wanted to share in the hopes that it helps future mothers find success and comfort with breastfeeding.
As a first time mom in medical school, I was both nervous and stressed about what the future would look like. Living on student loans (of my own and my husbands) I applied for any help I could get. One program that was recommended to me was Healthy Start. Knowing nothing about the program, I was curious and agreed to try it for some time. I was enrolled in Healthy Start and my care coordinator during my time in Tallahassee would be Clarissa Wilson. Clarissa was my Care Coordinator from October 2021 until I would eventually move in May 2022 and was truly a godsend. She taught me so much and was so patient and kind. She truly embodied what I believe Healthy Start was created to be. She always showed me all my options and resources available through Healthy Start and the community, took notes which she followed up with during the next session, sent me resources shortly after we finished a call, sent me reminders, rescheduled with me when life got in the way, and was always available. Clarissa walked me through my pregnancy and we discussed my fears and worries and truly put me at ease knowing that what I was feeling was normal; for example feeling nervous about the birthing process. She was even the reason I got a breast pump through insurance since I was not even aware that this was an option.
A session I remember well was the breastfeeding session, as it was the only time I was taught how to breastfeed. This was before my son was born and by the time he arrived (February 2022) I would’ve loved a refresher course but was very grateful that I – at a minimum – had heard the information she gave me. Once my son was born she took on his case as well. The transition for his Healthy Start care was smooth and easy. I loved that the program checked on his milestones and talked to me about ways to work on milestones he had not yet done. I write this not only to applaud Clarissa in her work but to also say that this was a reflection of the Tallahassee/ Leon County Healthy Start program – a program I am grateful to have been a part of and one that I recommend to friends (and one day plan to recommend to patients).
Thank you! Healthy Start Mom
We are thankful for our care coordinator Clarissa and her kind nature and dedication to Healthy Start clients and their families. Bravo Clarissa! Hear Clarissa talk about how Healthy Start care coordinators support new mothers and moms-to-be. https://youtu.be/LBpN4J-1W_w
Healthy Start Coalitions were created in 1991 when Governor Lawton Chiles challenged a group of community leaders to find a solution to Florida’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate. Healthy Start helps at-risk mothers receive the care they need for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Healthy Start connects new and expecting moms and families with young children to community programs that help with pregnancy and parenting.
Connect provides a one-stop entry point for services such as education and support for childbirth, newborn care, parenting skills, child development, food and nutrition, mental health, and financial self-sufficiency. Healthy Start is an ongoing program that provides education, support, and proven interventions to expecting and new families with babies up until the age of 3. In addition to these programs, Sister Friends Tallahassee utilizes an evidence-based mentoring model to specifically address the needs of Black mothers in our local community due to the inequalities in mortality among black and white moms and babies.
The Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition, Inc., was created on February 6, 1992. Thirty-two coalitions across the state of Florida work within their local communities to solve maternal and child health problems. Since the inception of Healthy Start, infant mortality has dropped by as much as 20 percent.
If you are interested in learning more about our programs, please email or call https://capitalareahealthystart.org/connect-program/.For Leon County residents, call (850) 488-0288 ext. 109, and for Wakulla County residents call (850) 926-0400.