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Sandra Deal visits Newton Medical Center
Sandra Deal greets NMC's Director of Marketing Anne Gantt, with Georgia Department of Children Services Director Bobby Cagle nearby. - photo by Bryan Fazio

Sandra Deal paid her second visit to the Newton Medical Center Thursday, walking the halls of the birthing unit, meeting with its nurses and doctors and evening stopping in on some of Newton County’s newest residents.

Deal traveled from Atlanta to Newton to tour the NMC’s First Steps program, talk with parents about immunizations and learn about how the hospital is utilizing its Safe to Sleep grant.

The First Lady of Georgia’s first stop was the First Steps Office, where she and Georgia’s First steps Coordinator Lynda Brown met with NMC’s First Step Coordinator Missy Braden.

First Steps has played an important part in the hospital’s efforts to help bring educated healthy babies into Newton County and the surrounding areas. It’s a program that engages volunteers and pools resources from the community to help new mothers educate themselves for motherhood.

“Through the first step programs we help to give families a great start in this community,” said First Steps Coordinator Lynda Brown. “This is as good a representation of the services that are funded through the state. So we wanted Mrs. Deal to come here and see the excellent services and the children that have benefited from these services.”

NMC’s First Steps program has averaged 400-500 visits a year, with 292 mothers visiting in 2015.

Deal then met with several families with children born at NMC that participated in First Steps and are up to date on all immunizations. Each family presented Deal with a flower and immunization card.

Among the families were: Candace Baker and children Carson, 6, Parker 3 and Hensley 8 months, Shauna Coffelt and 14-month-old Korli Coffelt, Sara Mathis and Carson Durdent, 3 and Adleigh Mathis, 8 months and Becky Needham and 15-month-old Andi Needham.

“I’m mainly here trying to encourage immunizations,” Deal said. “Immunizations affect a lot of us, not just those children. Hopefully they will also encourage the rest of the family to get vaccinated if they’re not.”

The children Deal met with where born in the halls she traveled, stopping in on two mothers and their newborns in NMC’s birthing unit. Those visits followed a tour of the Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where Deal met with NICU Clinical Coordinator Robin Sloman, RN.

Deal and Division of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle also stopped by the hospital’s Safe to Sleep Display. The Safe to Sleep Campaign is part of the Injury Prevention Program in the Division of Health Protection and Safety.

“He’s on the children’s cabinet with me, and he wanted to come along,” Deal said. “We try to do all the different things that will protect our children. We want our children to grow up healthy and strong.”

In May, NMC was selected for the “Safe to Sleep Display” grant, in which an infant Pack and Play with an infant doll, along with education literature, are used to educate parents on safe sleep practices.

Georgia, which averages three infant deaths each week due to sleep-related causes, set up the campaign to empower parents and caregivers with the necessary tools and information to best protect their infants from tragedy.

Deal concluded her visit with a reception and photos alongside members of the hospital’s staff and First Step members.

“That’s my goal, to have the children grow up safe and strong,” Deal said.