Reach Out and Read Wisconsin would like to acknowledge and thank all medical staff and public health officials for their tireless work over the past weeks related to COVID-19. We realize this is an unprecedented public health event and we acknowledge and applaud everything clinical staff, medical providers, managers, public health officials, nurses and administrators are doing to support our communities and keep families safe.
During these trying times, we want to share some lighthearted, positive content about different literacy-rich environments we’ve seen during our visits to clinics and other environments across the state. We hope to showcase how everyday places can be literacy-friendly and how these spaces can encourage talking, reading, singing and playing for parents and children of all ages. If your clinic would like to be featured, please email Alex Rogers and send photos.
Our first literacy-rich spotlight goes to the Clark County Public Health Department. Earlier this year, the Public Health Department revamped their Women Infants and Children (WIC)/Immunization waiting room. The updated waiting room includes many elements that are literacy-friendly, including the rug with both letters and numbers, interactive toys that do not rely on screens, and the plethora of books available on the book shelf. All these items can encourage families and kids to play together, read together, or talk with each other while they wait.
Partners from across the community came together to make this possible. A local high school shop class built the book shelf, toy box, children’s table and bench set while other community volunteers painted the wall mural. This transformation showcases the power of collaboration.
Community collaboration is something Reach Out and Read Wisconsin strongly encourages and spends time talking about with clinics at our annual check-ins. Even though the Clark County Public Health Department is not participating in Reach Out and Read, we fully support their efforts to increase early-literacy awareness and encouragement within different spaces in the community. Clark County Public Health Director, Brittany Mews, RN, BSN, was instrumental in helping Marshfield Medical Center Neillsville Clinic start their Reach Out and Read program in 2014 and has continued to provide ongoing support for the clinic since. Clinics often create literacy-rich environments to amplify and expand on the anticipatory guidance their providers are giving at well-child visits. To us, it is wonderful to see other community organizations supporting this messaging and taking steps to create environments that foster and encourage literacy development, parent-child relationships and little moments of talking, reading, singing and playing.
For more information on how to create a literacy-rich environment within your clinic please refer to this Reach Out and Read handout or view our slideshow of literacy-rich examples from clinics in Wisconsin.
It may seem like Reach Out and Read (ROR) Wisconsin operates on its own, but we are actually part of a larger policy and advocacy group called the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin (Alliance). The Alliance provides a home for ROR Wisconsin by providing financial, administrative and graphic design support. The Alliance’s goals are to raise awareness for children’s health, mobilize leaders, impact public health and implement programs proven to work. To accomplish this, the Alliance oversees seven initiatives:
Early Literacy (ROR Wisconsin)
Grief and Bereavement
Injury Prevention and Death Review
These initiatives work together to spread awareness, foster collaboration between key partners, influence legislation and implement effective programs and coalitions that lead to better outcomes for kids across the state. Here are some notable accomplishments from the past year:
Asthma: The Wisconsin Asthma Coalition (WAC) conducts walkthroughs to identify asthma triggers and provide low to no-cost recommendations to reduce or eliminate triggers. This year, Asthma staff completed walkthroughs in 14 schools and 15 child care centers in five different counties. Additionally, staff worked with YoungStar, Wisconsin’s child care quality rating program, to better align their environmental standards with WAC’s guidelines. These efforts, and many others, will continue into the 2018-19 school year.
Emergency Medical Services for Children: The Emergency Medical Services for Children Program (EMSC) has partnered with 14 emergency departments to improve their pediatric readiness. Over the next two years, the emergency departments will use a quality improvement frame work to improve pediatric emergency care safety and quality. The following emergency departments are participating:
Crossing Rivers Health – Crawford County
Memorial Medical Center – Ashland
Sauk Prairie Healthcare – Prairie du Sac
Southwest Health Center – Platteville
Mile Bluff Medical Center – Mauston
Divine Savior Healthcare – Portage
UnityPoint Health – Meriter – Madison
Howard Young Medical Center – Woodruff
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – Franklin Hospital
Waupun Memorial Hospital
Mercyhealth Hospital and Medical Center – Walworth
Mercyhealth System and Trauma Center – Janesville
Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center
Marshfield Medical Center
EMSC also provided two pediatric specific education sessions for pre-hospital providers in Door and Oneida counties. A total of 46 emergency care providers were trained at the March 24 and May 10 sessions.
Infant Death Center: The Infant Death Center (IDC) gave two presentations on addressing the unique bereavement needs of mothers experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. The first presentation was at the southeastern Wisconsin Prenatal Care Coordination Partnership (PNCC), a diverse group of agencies and medical providers who offer the PNCC Medicaid benefit to women in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin. The IDC also presented to a group of home visiting nurses at the Southside Health Center in Milwaukee.
Injury Prevention and Death Review: In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Injury Prevention and Death Review staff facilitated the Keeping Kids Alive in Wisconsin Conference on April 17-18 at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center in Oshkosh. More than 100 local child death review (CDR) and fetal infant mortality review (FIMR) team members attended to explore trends in child death and learn about best practice prevention strategies. The Clark County CDR team was awarded the annual William Perloff Keeping Kids Alive in Wisconsin Award for successfully implementing prevention activities in their community through data collection and death reviews.
Medical Home: Medical homes are characterized by trusting partnerships between families, children and their health care teams. Children who receive care within a medical home may have improved health outcomes and families are more satisfied with such care. The Medical Home initiative works to ensure more Wisconsin children are served within medical homes by guiding, educating, and partnering with health care teams and families. Over the last year, Medical Home staff have completed 18 trainings in 11 counties, reaching 154 attendees, including 51 clinicians. The trainings discussed developmental screening within child well-care, pediatric mental health screening and other key resources.
Oral Health: On June 21, 2017, Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 146. This new law allows dental hygienists to practice with fewer restrictions and in more settings including nursing homes, hospitals, day care centers and physicians’ offices. The Oral Health team actively supported the bill in order to expand access to oral services statewide.
Reach Out and Read Wisconsin: Over the past year, 20 clinics launched new ROR programs. There are now more than 215 ROR programs in Wisconsin! This growth will continue into 2019 as two health systems, SSM Health Dean Medical Group and ThedaCare Physicians, are planning to make ROR a standard of pediatric care by providing ROR in all of their Wisconsin clinics. They join 10 health systems already implementing ROR within all of their Wisconsin clinics; Access Community Health Centers, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Milwaukee Health Services, NorthLakes Community Clinic, Progressive Community Health Centers, Vernon Memorial Healthcare, UW Health, Watertown Regional Medical Center and Wildwood Family Clinic.
The Alliance’s graphic design and communication team supports all of the initiatives’ work with newsletters, conference materials, social media campaigns, promotional items and annual reports. They also manage the Alliance website, which will be getting a major update in the coming months.
If you would like to support the Alliance’s work to improve children’s health, please visit our website or consider making a donation.