Through the years, the partnership between Regional One Health and the March of Dimes has proven richly beneficial to both organizations – and, more importantly, to countless Mid-South families kept whole thanks to advancements in care for mothers and babies.
On Saturday, representatives of all of those groups will gather at Shelby Farms Park for the March for Babies to celebrate strides in maternal and infant health and support continued progress. Regional One Health is the signature sponsor of the event, and will host a special superhero-themed fun run for NICU graduates and their families.
Rosa Potts, March of Dimes senior development manager for West Tennessee, said the event is both fun and meaningful. “It’s a family-friendly environment, with bounce houses, a Zumba workout, great food and more,” Potts said. “We’re really excited to welcome everyone to come out and raise awareness about premature birth, because we want to put an end to it.”
March of Dimes and Regional One Health work together every day to do just that.
March of Dimes selected Regional One Health as the only health care system in Tennessee to house a NICU support specialist to work with patients. The specialist, provided with support from FedEx, promotes the three core missions of the March of Dimes: preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
“The partnership is very, very special to us,” Potts said, noting Regional One Health President and CEO Reginald Coopwood, MD is a longtime March of Dimes board member and chair. “We share a mission to promote the health of mothers and babies.”
Regional One Health NICU Nurse Manager Kelley Smith said the March of Dimes supports both patients and employees. “They provide services like education for staff and families, a camera and printer so families who can’t be with their babies all the time can see pictures, activities and events during holidays, and a lot more,” Smith said. “Now, there’s even a ‘My NICU Baby’ app to help support families with premature babies, whether their babies survived or passed away. They give them a chance to have conversations and get support and advice.”
Smith said the March of Dimes has also been instrumental in medical advances that save lives at Regional One Health and elsewhere.
“The March of Dimes used to be about polio and promoting folic acid to prevent birth defects, but it’s a lot more than that,” Smith said. “For example, a lot of people don’t realize the March of Dimes has been instrumental in the production of surfactant, and that’s been a huge improvement in how we care for our babies and for their survival rates.”
Surfactant is a therapy that promotes healthy lungs in premature babies. Since it was introduced in 1990, deaths from respiratory distress syndrome have been cut in half.
Smith said the March for Babies is a great way for Regional One Health employees and the rest of the community to promote future advancements in care.
Money raised from the walk supports NICU staff and families through education and more – and also raises awareness about the miracles that happen everyday thanks to Regional One Health and the March of Dimes.
“When people learn about what we do in the NICU, it’s just amazing the support they want to give us and our families,” Smith said.
If you go…
When: Saturday, May 4. Registration is at 8 a.m., walk starts at 9 a.m.
Where: Shelby Farms Park, 6903 Great View Drive North, Memphis
What: 2.5-mile walk, superhero race, free food, bounce houses, Zumba class and more.