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Children's, Health and Safety

CHILDREN’S OF ALABAMA DOCTORS INVESTIGATING CASES OF HEPATITIS

Hepatologists and infectious disease doctors at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are investigating several cases of hepatitis found in the state since last fall, and they want to make the public aware of how to stay safe.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest data on these cases Friday.

Children’s of Alabama doctors treated nine patients – all children under 10 years old – for hepatitis between October 2021 and February 2022. They say all nine cases were caused by adenovirus – a common virus that often leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Two of the patients needed liver transplants.

Doctors say what’s unique about this situation is that adenovirus typically does not lead to hepatitis in healthy patients. When it does lead to hepatitis, it’s usually in patients who are immunocompromised. When doctors at Children’s and UAB discovered the initial cases in the fall, they alerted the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the CDC.

Doctors say the cases initially presented as vomiting and diarrhea. Within a few days, the patients showed signs of jaundice and yellowing of the eyes, which are indications of possible liver failure.

To protect yourself from adenovirus, doctors offer the following recommendations:

  • Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands
  • Use disinfectants to wipe down surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with infected individuals
Children's, Health and Safety

What is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder where the blood fails to clot. Hemophilia is a lifelong bleeding disorder that currently does not have a cure.

  • There are low levels of clotting proteins in the blood.
  • It is seen mostly in boys (rarely in girls).
  • Very few people have it.
  • There are about 400 babies with hemophilia born in the U.S. each year.
  • About one in every 20,000 men in the U.S. have hemophilia.
  • About 80% of those with hemophilia have hemophilia A (factor 8 deficiency) and 20% have hemophilia B (factor 9 deficiency).
  • Hemophilia occurs in all races and social groups.
  • Women may carry the gene that is passed on to her children.
  • People with hemophilia are born with the disorder.

How can medications help?

  • They can help prevent or stop bleeding.
  • By using medicine and visiting a hematologist regularly, a person with hemophilia can expect to live a long and healthy life.

What happens when someone with hemophilia has an injury?

  • The injured blood vessel gets smaller (vasoconstricts) to let less blood through.
  • Platelets rush to the site and stick together to form a platelet plug.
  • Clotting factor proteins in the blood work together to make threads of fibrin (a protein produced by the body). The fibrin weaves itself into a clot over the platelet plug. This makes a strong seal.

How are injuries different when someone has hemophilia?

  • People with hemophilia can’t make a fibrin clot.
  • A person with hemophilia has problems when a fibrin clot is needed to stop the bleeding. People with hemophilia don’t have enough of certain clotting factors.
  • The fibrin clot is not made or is so thin that the bleeding continues.
  • Someone with hemophilia does not bleed faster than someone without hemophilia. However, the person with hemophilia will bleed longer.

Why is this a problem?

  • Bleeding inside the body is more of a problem for people with hemophilia than bleeding on the outside from a cut or scrape.
  • Inside the body, the blood can go into spaces in joints, muscles, and organs.
  • Over time, this can cause great damage, especially if the bleeding is not treated or happens often.

For educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor.

For more information, visit Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorders Birmingham, Alabama (AL) – Children’s of Alabama (childrensal.org).

Children's, Health and Safety

Spotting Signs of Teen Dating Violence

One in 10 teenagers will experience some sort of abuse by a dating partner, according to the Children’s Safety Network. Negative short-term or long-term health issues can result from abusive relationships. Parents should be cognizant of warning signs in their teenagers’ relationships.

Dating violence manifests in many different forms, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Emotional abuse can be hard to recognize because it typically progresses gradually throughout the relationship. Emotional abuse can include intimidation, manipulation, intense jealousy, threats, controlling behavior, verbal assault and gaslighting. Physical abuse is any means of physical harm, including hitting, kicking or punching. Sexual abuse involves forcing a partner to engage in any type of sexual experience without consent.

“If the perpetrator is more interested in controlling you, then that is a big red flag,” said Debra Schneider, director of the Children’s Hospital Intervention and Prevention Services (CHIPS Center) at Children’s of Alabama.

Teens in an abusive relationship have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, antisocial behaviors, eating disorders, negative body image, sexually transmitted diseases, trust issues, emotional triggers, lying, stealing, cheating and lack of discernment when picking appropriate partners in adulthood.

“Open dialogue about physical and emotional boundaries in relationships should begin when children are young,” Schneider said. “Boundaries and respect are vital to pave the way toward healthy relationships in their teenage years. If parents are modeling a healthy relationship, that’s going to be what teens are used to and what they expect in their own relationships.”

Parents should be mindful of:
• Secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family
• Onset of anxiety and/or depression
• Physical findings (bruises, cuts, headaches, back pain)
• Only spending time with partner
• Feeling excessive guilt or shame
• Avoidance of school or social events with excuses that don’t seem to make any sense

If you observe any warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship in your teen, talk to them about it. It is important to start a conversation with your teen and listen to them. Try to understand and validate their feelings in this situation. Your show of support will increase their trust and your teen will be more comfortable sharing information with you. This open conversation will be crucial in educating your teen about what should be expected in a healthy and safe relationship. A teen who is being abused needs someone to hear and believe them and be reminded that abuse is never deserved.

The CHIPS Center has abuse prevention resources available. For more information, call 205-638-2751 or visit childrensal.org/CHIPS.

Other resources for you or your teen:

• National Dating Abuse Helpline – 1-866-331-9474 or loveisrespect.org to receive immediate, confidential assistance
• Birmingham Crisis Center – 205-323-7777
• Birmingham Rape Response – 205-323-7273
• RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) – 1-800-656-4673
• If your teen is in immediate danger, call 911.

Children's, Health and Safety, News

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

More than 11,600 children in Alabama were victims of abuse in 2020, according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. However, the actual number may be higher because many instances of abuse go unreported. The support systems on which many families rely, such as extended family, childcare, schools, religious groups and other community organizations, were limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As families continue to face health and economic strains connected to the pandemic, stressed guardians may be more likely to respond to their child’s behavior in an aggressive way. “Increased stress levels among parents is often a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children,” said Debra Schneider, director of the Children’s Hospital Intervention and Prevention Services (CHIPS) Center at Children’s of Alabama.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, but CHIPS staff works year-round to facilitate healing from physical, mental and emotional abuse and to provide prevention education.

Parents and caregivers should look for signs of abusive situations. The child who has endured abuse the longest typically has the longest healing process. The quicker an abusive situation is reported, the faster a child can be provided with medical care, therapy and counseling to heal. “Abuse is not the child’s whole story,” Schneider said. “There is hope when intervention occurs.”

Children who are being abused might:

• Have new onset fears
• Have a vocabulary too advanced regarding sexual activity
• Be withdrawn from friends and family
• Have nightmares
• Experience a drop in their grades
• Change in appearance (wearing clothes that don’t align with the weather)
• Not want to go home
• Start using drugs
• Bully others
• Be sad or depressed
• Have stories to explain injuries that don’t make sense or keep changing
• Not want to be with the abuser
• Act out at school

There are also signs to watch out for in abusers themselves. They usually walk the victim through a grooming process. Schneider said it is important to remember that the child is usually not abused 24/7. The relationship often consists of a more positive bond. The abuser knows what the child likes, is curious about and afraid of, and they use it to their advantage. Some sort of ‘relationship’ is formed, and a trust is established between them. That way, when harm enters the picture, the child is less likely to question their character and actions. Other signs include spending more time with the child than is appropriate, giving extraordinary gifts to the child more than what’s normal, using excuses to be alone with the child and implementing gaslighting techniques.

Most children think abuse comes from a stranger, but abusers are usually someone a child knows. Schneider suggests teaching about “stranger danger;” however, build off that concept to make them aware that abusers can be someone they know. Schneider states most children are taught about stranger danger, but children need to be taught that most sexual abuse happens with someone a child knows.

Children in an abusive situation need a trusted adult to confide in – parents, grandparents, a teacher, friend’s parent/caregiver or guidance counselor. School prevention education programs encourage a child to tell three adults: two inside and one outside their family. That trusted adult can clearly communicate to the child, “I am here for you if anything is going on. I am not here to judge.”

Adults who suspect abuse should approach the child gently. If the adult asks too many questions, the child may feel in trouble. Adults should never make promises to not tell anyone, since that is a key action to be taken when stopping abusive situations. Remind the child that abuse is NEVER their fault.

Since conversations about abuse can be very difficult to bring up, Schneider suggests bringing up an incident from the news as a segue into a conversation about the abusive situation. In addition, having these conversations in the car creates a more relaxed, noninvasive environment.

If you suspect an abusive situation, report it immediately. Anyone can provide a report of suspected abuse to report to the local department of human resources or a child protective services agency. All it takes is a suspicion of abuse; the caller doesn’t have to have specific evidence. You can also contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). You don’t have to give your name. If the child is in immediate danger, call 911.

CHIPS staff is a team of specially trained counselors, doctors, social workers and pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners (PSANE). The staff works with law enforcement, the Department of Human Resources and child advocacy center representatives to provide the best possible care for children and families affected by child maltreatment. Services provided include forensic medical evaluations, social work assessments, play therapy, counseling, care coordination, prevention education, court support, expert court testimony and specialized support for victims of human trafficking. For more information, call 205-638-2751 or visit childrensal.org/CHIPS.

Children's

Children’s of Alabama Celebrates The Women of the Executive Team

March is Women’s History Month. At Children’s of Alabama, 86 percent of our workforce is female. And you’ll see that reflected in hospital leadership as well.

This group of women has nearly 250 combined years of service at Children’s. Their leadership stretches from patient care, nursing and operations to customer service, finance, risk management and government relations.

Pictured here, left to right, are Heather Hargis, vice president, Operations; Lori Moler, vice president, Customer Service; Jamie Dabal, vice president, Operations; Suzanne Respess, vice president, Government Relations; Delicia Mason, vice president, Nursing Operations; Heather Baty, vice president, Ambulatory Operations; Stacy White, senior executive leader, Behavioral Health; and Sandy Thurmond, vice president, Primary Care Services. Not pictured, Vickie Atkins, vice president, Risk Management, and Dawn Walton, chief financial officer

Children's, Health and Safety

World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day (March 3) is a global observance of the World Health Organization (WHO) that is championed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

In 2022, the theme for World Hearing Day is “To hear for life, listen with care.” Hearing loss is among the most common chronic health conditions that American adults experience. Although not all hearing loss is preventable, noise-induced hearing loss is—simply by reducing exposure to excessively loud noise. This is true for people of all ages.

Here’s how you and your loved ones can avoid noise-induced hearing loss:

  • For Infants and Toddlers — Parents and caregivers should pay attention to how loud toys are—especially because young children tend to hold their toys very close to their faces. Many popular products on the market exceed safe noise levels. Make them safer by taking the batteries out or putting tape over the speaker to dampen the sound. Parents should also put well-fitting earmuffs on kids when they will be in a noisy environment such as a sporting event or a fireworks display.
  • For Older Children and Adolescents — Wearing earmuffs or earplugs in noisy environments remains very important, given that WHO says 40% of teens and young adults ages 12–35 are at risk for hearing loss from loud leisure activities. Children at these ages also should be taught to listen safely to their personal technology devices, especially when used with earbuds or headphones. This means keeping the volume to half and taking listening breaks every hour.
  • For Adults — Certain professions—such as jobs in the airline, restaurant, or landscaping and construction industries—pose added risks to hearing, as do many everyday activities such as loud fitness classes, noisy coffee shops, and noisy hobbies. Adults should wear hearing protection in loud environments, limit exposure to noise, and see a certified audiologist if they are experiencing any symptoms of hearing damage.

Signs to pay attention to include experiencing ringing, buzzing, or pain in the ear; having difficulty following a conversation when more than one person is talking; having trouble hearing in noisy places like a restaurant or on the phone; noticing that sounds frequently seem muffled—or people often sound like they’re mumbling.

Hearing loss is far from being just a nuisance: Left untreated, it is associated with a variety of serious health conditions in adults—including cognitive decline, falls, and social isolation and depression. Hearing loss also can impact career success, mental health, and quality of life. In children, untreated hearing loss can lead to academic, social, and behavioral problems. For infants and toddlers, if hearing loss is unaddressed, it can affect their speech and language development—so it’s always important to pay attention and to get a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist if you have concerns.

What’s a great way to observe World Hearing Day? Anyone with concerns about their hearing (or a loved one’s) should seek a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist. Evaluations are generally covered by insurance. A searchable database of these hearing professionals can be found at http://www.asha.org/profind or by calling the ASHA consumer line: 800-638-8255.

The Charity League Hearing and Speech Center at Children’s of Alabama provides diagnostic and rehabilitative speech-language and audiology services to the pediatric population in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Our goal is to maximize your child’s communicative potential so that the individual may better adapt to home, school, and social environments. Visit https://www.childrensal.org/hearing-and-speech to learn more.

Children's

Children’s of Alabama Celebrates Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. At Children’s of Alabama, 86 percent of our workforce is female.

Children’s of Alabama is here today because, more than a century ago, a group of dedicated women saw the growing need for quality health care for children. In those early days at Children’s, an all-female group of volunteers did whatever was needed to operate the charity hospital, from scrubbing floors to sitting with sick children. The hospital’s first trustees were all women.

Today, women are involved throughout our hospital – from the board room to bedside. The women featured here all have very different roles at Children’s, but all are key to fulfilling the promise of the hospital’s original founders.


LaDonna Gaines
Manager, Alabama Poison Information Center

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I always wanted to be a nurse, even as a child. I wanted to help people. I did a clinical rotation at Children’s when I was in nursing school, so I knew it was a great organization and I was glad to come here when the opportunity arose.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My mother has definitely impacted my life. She is a very hardworking woman and can always figure out how to handle difficult situations. Ann Slattery, my director, has also greatly impacted my life. She’s a great leader and has always been so encouraging.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Always be yourself. You don’t have to fit a specific mold to make change in the world. The world needs YOU, just as you are. Do what you love and enjoy. Be of service to others.


Lou Lacey
Director, Emotional Wellness

What led you to a career at Children’s?
I always had a sense I would end up at Children’s. I wanted to be involved in the mission and the history of this amazing place. I wanted to be connected to others who were invested in making the world a better place for our children.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
I’ve had too many women mentors to count but my grandmother was my guiding light. She grew up poor in rural Alabama but pushed herself beyond that to get her college degree in a time when that was highly unusual. She went on to start a school for children where differences were celebrated and those who were vulnerable were protected.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Don’t become a reduced version of yourself in order to fit into the mold of the expected. Have the courage to be thoroughly yourself and do it all with great love.


Kadambari Naik
Coordinator, Lab Education

What led you to a career at Children’s?
After graduation, I started working for a reference laboratory. Someone I knew from school highly recommended Children’s of Alabama. I accepted a position here as a Medical Technologist in 2008 and haven’t looked back since then. I find my work satisfying and enjoy working with my team. There is never a dull day!

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My grandmother and my mom have always been the two women I’ve looked up to.

After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother took over our family’s farm and single-handedly managed it well for several years. She was very hard-working, energetic and always had a plan when things at the farm did not go well, whether it was broken equipment or staffing problems. She always told us that if you work hard good things will happen; and if they don’t, then at least you know you gave your 100 percent.

My mom has always been here for me! She is a great cook and taught me to cook at a very early age. After all these years, I realized that while teaching me to cook, she was actually giving me important life lessons…organization, patience, multi-tasking, maximizing resources and persistence.

What message do you have for girls trying to make their mark on the world?
I would tell them what I always tell my daughter. The one person who can help you is YOU! Always advocate for yourself, be your own voice.

Do not shy away from challenges whether it is at school, work or in your personal life. Focus on the big picture, don’t let minor setbacks hold you back, and remember it is never too late to follow your dreams!


Sherry Scarborough
Director, Volunteer Services

What led you to a career at Children’s?
I joined the staff at Children’s Hospital in 1978 as an executive secretary. I transferred from Baptist Medical Centers with my then boss, Jim Reed. Once at Children’s I knew I had found my career track of serving children and families. I loved the mission then. I love the mission now.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My Mother was an at home Mom who raised five children and then became a professional floral designer in her late 40s. Mama taught us to work hard, believe in ourselves, look for the good in others, and “if you don’t have something nice to say, just keep it to yourself.”

I always admired Surpora Thomas, a previous VP of nursing (at Children’s). Mrs. Thomas was a strong leader with concern for young women at Children’s. She set the standards high for her nursing staff as well as the rest of us.

I always have admired Mother Teresa! Her selflessness and love of others is an inspiration.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Young girls should first learn to respect themselves and then others. Live by the golden rule. My advice to young women is to learn to live on their own without the help or assistance from parents or others before stepping into marriage or any other committed relationship. Then they will always know they can be independent and strong.


Val Slater
Nurse Clinician, Clinic 8

What led you to a career in healthcare at Children’s?
Since I was 7 years old, I always wanted to become a nurse, and that desired dream never changed. I just had a love for caring for people. What led me to Children’s in 1990 was after my Pediatric rotation on 4West. The nurses there were so loving and passionate toward the kids, and I have such a big heart for children. Prior to my rotation, I had put in applications at Children’s but never got a call back. On my last day of my rotation, I mentioned to Mrs. Johnson (one the nurses) that I had put in applications but never got a response, and I really want to work at Children’s. She took my name and phone number and told me that she would give it to her director (Bonnie Barnett). The next day I received a call from Mrs. Barnett, had my interview and was hired the very next day. That is God putting the right people in my space, and I knew then this is where the Lord wanted me to be and still going strong 32 years later.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
The first woman who had the most impact in my life would be my mom, Bettie Montgomery. No matter how hard nursing school got for me, she was always in my corner being my cheerleader and pushing me forward. There was one quote that she would say that always stuck with me: “Good, better, best, never, ever rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” This is one quote that I still use today. Other women who had an impact on my life, I call them my “hospital moms.” Their names are Mrs. Wilma Kenon (Griffin), Mrs. Mary Jones, Mrs. Sheryl Tyus, Mrs. Helen Wren and Mrs. Ruby Moncrief. These ladies took me under their wings, nourished my passion for nursing and developed me in the individual I am today. Last is my weekend mentor, Michell Gresham. She really taught me everything about critical care bedside nursing. I will truly be grateful and thankful for these ladies being in my life.

What message do you have for girls/women trying to make their mark on the world?
The message that I would give to girls/women is to never, never give up on your dream. No matter how hard things might appear, continue to keep pushing forward no matter what. If God has planted a passion in your heart, just know that He will give you the tools you need to fulfill it, but you have to be committed to the dream. Two of my favorite poems that PUSH me FORWARD and I still recite today are “Don’t Quit” and “Our Deepest Fear.” Remember if you can Dream IT, you can Believe IT, you can Achieve IT.


Myra Waddell
Staff Nurse, Critical Care Transport

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I always enjoyed helping people even as a young kid. A childhood accident eventually led me to the medical field. Working with kids interested me as got older after my experiences with hospitals and medical staff.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
At the risk of sounding super cliché, my mother, grandmother and sister have been the most influential women in my life. They are not famous, but they are my superstars! All three have taught me unconditional love and compassion, the value of hard work and to never give up regardless of the difficulty of the task. They are three of the strongest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am grateful for them.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Let your light shine as bright as possible. You define yourself. Do not let anyone else define you or put you in a corner. There will be failures along your way. Learn from those failures and come back stronger. Never give up!

Children's

Children’s of Alabama Celebrates Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time to honor the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans. At Children’s of Alabama, we are united in our mission and dedication in providing the finest pediatric healthcare to all children. Each of the employees featured here contribute to our core values of trust, teamwork, compassion, innovation and commitment. We thank them for sharing their stories of inspiration and impact.


Dexter Cunningham
Security Manager

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama? 
The opportunity to work in an organization whose primary mission is the care and comfort of sick children piqued my interest. Having spent almost 30 years in law enforcement (University of Alabama at Birmingham Police Department, retired Birmingham Police sergeant), being the security manager here at Children’s of Alabama has been a great fit.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
Colin Powell has inspired me as I am a retired veteran as well. I served 21.5 years in the United States Naval Reserve. The opportunity to work with the present Children’s Security Director Michael McCall has been an inspiration also.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope that others would not dwell on the adversities, but see those situations as possibilities and opportunities to grow and excel. To believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams, but to put written plans to those dreams is what I hope to inspire.


Reggie Hope
Practice Manager, Pediatrics East

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
After retiring from the military and moving back to Alabama, it was divine guidance that directed me to my new mission of compassion, commitment, teamwork, trust and innovation at Children’s of Alabama.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
My initial source of inspiration can be found in the wise, loving words of my mother, Dollie Mae Hope. Her encouraging words empowered me to grow and fully realize my potential. In addition to my mom, Charles Richard Drew, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama are among countless African Americans that continue to inspire me.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
Through my words and actions, I hope to empower and inspire others to raise the bar of excellence in their professional and or personal life.


Delicia Mason MNHSA, RN, NEA-BC
Vice President, Nursing Operations

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
My family relocated to Birmingham from Montgomery in 1998. I worked as a pediatric medical surgical nurse at a hospital in Montgomery, and I wanted to continue working in pediatrics, so I applied to work in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Children’s of Alabama. At that time, there was a hiring freeze for nursing positions in the PICU. I called the director of the PICU every month, sometimes twice monthly, inquiring about a position. Five months later, after the hiring freeze ended, she called and offered me a nightshift position.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
My parents Jessie and Bernice Posey are lifetime supporters who taught me and my siblings that this world and the people in it owe you nothing. Work hard to earn what you deserve. Be committed to your undertakings and be unshakeable in honoring your commitments.

Delois Spencer is a dear friend, mentor and coach. She is a nurse leader who helped to shape me into the leader I am. 

I admire Maya Angelou for her spirit, intelligence and peaceful presence. I am inspired by Cicely Tyson for her strong will, achievements and success despite tremendous social and political barriers rooted on her path. Michelle Obama is a role model of a mother, wife and leader. I admire her poised strength and energy that enables her to endure the tough talk aimed at her and still give positive messages that inspire others.

How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to inspire others by:

  • Role modeling the behaviors expected of others
  • Being optimistic and keeping a positive outlook
  • Empowering others – building others to be their best professionally and personally
  • Keeping a level head – remaining composed even when under pressure
  • Being consistent in who I am – not sacrificing my integrity or character
  • Being an active listener – my silence can be powerful for others


Dorothy McKinney
Customer Support & Provisioning Manager

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
I relocated to Birmingham from Georgia where I was employed at a local hospital. My experience in healthcare and taking pride in providing top-notch customer service/patient care is what I wanted to bring to Children’s of Alabama. I applied for a job with the Customer Support Desk and thankfully was hired. Fifteen years later, I still thoroughly enjoy my job. Children’s of Alabama is an organization that values diversity and offers room for growth.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
I would have to say my maternal grandmother.  She was someone who instilled values in me that I hold dear today. She taught me to be kind, respectful and treat everyone I encounter the way I wish to be treated.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to have a positive impact. I try to show kindness, love, compassion and understanding toward everyone I encounter. I want to lead by example in every way.


Delphene Noland
Manager, Infection Prevention and Control

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
My route to Children’s of Alabama was roundabout. When I first decided I was going to be a nurse, my goal was to be a pediatric nurse at Children’s. When I graduated, there were no openings so I was hired at another hospital. Then, 26 years later I was given the opportunity to join the infection control team, and after the interview, I knew this was the right move for me. I still believe it was the right decision.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
The African American who has inspired me most would have to be my Mother. Growing up, I watched her work as a maid at night and go to LPN (licensed practical nurse) school during the day. She was forced to work two jobs my entire life, and I knew her struggles as a single Black mother. There were many conversations about how there will be many people who will judge you by the color of your skin, but don’t let anyone tell you that you are less than. She was always very honest with us about her struggles with racism in healthcare. She would always tell us that she did not have the educational opportunities we had but she wanted all of us to do more, see more and achieve more.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I would like people of color to know it is not where you start, but how you finish. Do not let society determine your future, and never let anyone dictate your worth. With each generation, we must strive to make change. I hope I exemplify what a poor little Black girl, who should have been a statistic, has accomplished in life.


Alexis Sankey, MS
Development Operations Coordinator

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
I love supporting nonprofits and foundations because they provide specialized needs for the most vulnerable in our community. However, the way Children’s of Alabama embodies its mission by addressing and prioritizing the needs of patients for our region was something that has always stood out to me.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
Professionally and artistically, I would have to say some notable African Americans I continue to be inspired by are Shirley Chisholm, Langston Hughes, Michelle Obama and Issa Rae.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to be able to show people unique ways to be of service to organizations as well as one another.


Dorothy Turner
Food Service Supervisor

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama? 
I came to Children’s by a way off Sherry Scarbrough, volunteer services director. I met her when I was working as a manager at Arby’s in Tarrant City, Ala. She would come by for coffee and a croissant every morning on her way to work at Children’s.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
I am inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., because of his simple acts of selflessness. He always thought of what was best for his community, no matter what the cost.  And he did it peacefully and freely.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to inspire others by being present for people, when I am needed and called on, no matter what the cost, in a very positive way. I always believe the greatest gift we can give each other as mankind is to be present for one another in a very genuine way.


Reggie Wilson
Information Technology CyberSecurity,
HIPAA Coordinator

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama? 
In 2002, Children’s was embarking on implementing a new EMR system, and I wanted to bring my IT skill sets and experience to contribute to the solution of that project.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
There are many, many, many, African Americans who have inspired me along my life and career journey. Some are internationally known and here locally in Birmingham.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
There are some things I keep in my heart to help me impact someone in a positive way, two of those I will share:

  • “Let my work speak for me.” I must always remember someone is watching me, so I must work hard and positive and hope that impacts their life.
  • “If I can help somebody, as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song, If I can show somebody, how they’re travelling wrong, Then my living shall not be in vain.” These lyrics from this Mahalia Jackson song stick with me and describe as how I would like to impact someone’s life with love and laughter.
Children's

Is Your Child’s School a Heart Safe School?

Did you know that thousands of school age children nationally die from sudden cardiac arrest every year? Only 5 to 10 percent of these children survive without some type of immediate treatment. This is why having automated external defibrillators (AED) available on school campuses can make the difference between life and death. It is simply a lightweight device that can help bring back a normal heart beat, and can increase the survival rate of cardiac victims by 50 percent.

All 13 Auburn City Schools now qualify as Project ADAM Heart-Safe Schools. Children’s of Alabama representatives John Stone and Adam Kelley presented ACS with the designation.

In an effort to ensure that schools are equipped and trained to use AEDs, Children’s of Alabama offers Alabama LifeStart, a program modeled after the Adam Project. Alabama is one of the many states that have adapted this program, which is currently led by co-medical directors Dr. Austin Kane and Dr. Khalisa Syeda of UAB. Because of Alabama LifeStart, Children’s of Alabama, and the financial support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, approximately 400 schools in Alabama have received an AED device. Every public middle, junior and senior high school in the state is equipped with at least one AED. One of the many companies Children’s partners with to provide the equipment to schools is AED Brands. Like others, they offer information that can be helpful when purchasing an AED. 

In Alabama, AEDs on school campuses have helped save the lives of several students. One example of a lifesaving story is that of a student at John Sparkman High School in Morgan County who collapsed during a basketball game. Due to the quick response of trained school personnel, she was brought back to life with an AED.  

Unfortunately, not all faculty, staff and students know how to use the devices quickly in a sudden cardiac emergency. Most schools also do not provide more than one device, which may not be easily accessible where an incident may occur. With training resources readily available from Alabama LifeStart, more lives may be saved by improving the ability to respond quickly and effectively to a cardiac arrest. Those schools that meet special requirements are named a Heart Safe School by the program. They install the recommended number of AED devices on campus and utilize Alabama LifeStart’s free resources to incorporate the training into their student health or physical education curriculum. To date 62 Alabama schools have accomplished this honor.

If your school is interested in becoming a Heart Safe School by Alabama LifeStart, please email alabamalifestart@childrensal.org or call Program Director John Stone at Children’s at (205) 638-6769.  

Children's, Health and Safety

Safe Sleep

Statistics reveal 3,500 sleep-related deaths occur each year among infants under 12 months. Alabama has the highest rate of sleep-related deaths across the nation — approximately one hundred or more babies die each year due to unsafe sleep environments.

Dr. Erinn Schmit, a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s of Alabama and assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), says soft bedding and babies co-sleeping with a parent or sibling are two of the most common causes of sleep-related deaths. The highest risk for sleep-related deaths in infants is between 1 and 4 months old, but Dr. Schmit recommends parents keep exercising safe sleep practices up to 12 months.

Dr. Erinn Schmit

ABCs for Safe Sleep Practices

Dr. Schmit suggests using the “ABCs” of safe sleep to remember these practices. This stands for: Alone, Back and Crib.

Alone: Babies should be in their own sleep environment every single time. This means using an approved consumer product safety-rated device, like a crib, Pack ‘n Play or bassinet.

Back: Babies should be on their backs every single time.

Crib: The crib should be empty except for a crib mattress rated for infants (a firm mattress with just a fitted sheet). There should be no loose blankets, stuffed animals, pillows or bumpers –they pose a suffocation risk.

Safe Sleep Environments

“We know that co-sleeping greatly increases their risk for suffocation. We also see some deaths from suffocation due to soft bedding, such as pillows, blankets, sleeping on an adult mattress, or sleeping in a chair or couch. These environments are not meant for babies to sleep in,” Schmit said. “Babies should be sleeping on a firm sleep surface that doesn’t allow for any air pockets where their faces can get stuck.”

For every sleep session, babies should be placed on their back until they can roll over by themselves. Swaddling is helpful for newborns who have a startle reflex that wakes them up; however, parents should swaddle their baby only until they are about 3 to 4 months old, when they begin showing signs of rolling over.

“When they’re showing signs of rolling over, you could either go cold turkey — stop swaddling them altogether—or swaddle just one arm in at a time. But we do know that swaddling while babies are trying to roll can actually increase that risk of suffocation,” adds Dr. Schmit.

Dr. Schmit also cautions against nearby cords from a baby monitor or windows with blinds near the crib. Ensure the crib or Pack n’ Play is away from the window so babies can’t pull on strings connected to the blinds. In addition, make sure baby monitors are mounted on a wall or placed on a bookcase nearby, but not directly by the edge of a crib. “Unfortunately, every year we see strangulation deaths when babies get strings stuck around their necks,” Schmit said.

Sleep sacks are well known among parents with babies and are recommended.  These wearable blankets have a hole for the neck and arms, and either zip or snap in place. Due to the design, sleep sacks don’t have loose material that can get in a baby’s face. 

Sleep sacks for younger babies swaddle with Velcro and sleep sacks for older babies have arm holes and no swaddle. Around three to four months, parents should stop swaddling and switch to a sleep sack without a swaddle.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents share a room, not a bed, with their baby for up to 12 months. Sharing a room can help parents hear noises and be alert to their baby’s needs which can reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths.

Tummy Time and Acid Reflux in Babies

Tummy time is when babies lay on their stomachs for a brief time period while they are awake and supervised. The AAP recommends supervised tummy time for babies each day to help with head and neck strength which further improves motor development. For more information on how long babies of different ages should practice tummy time, refer to this resource from KidsHealth. While babies should practice tummy time, they should not while they are sleeping. Once they can roll themselves onto their tummy, it’s okay to let them roll into that position. Nevertheless, parents should still put them to sleep on their back.

One misconception is that placing babies on their backs may aggravate acid reflux or interfere with proper digestion. This has been scientifically disproven – when babies are laying on their tummies, the food pipe is above the windpipe.

According to the AAP and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition (NASPGHAN), sleeping on the back is safest for all babies, even those with reflux. The only situations when babies should sleep on their tummy are if they have an unrepaired surgical airway or some other serious issues—in which the doctor may recommend otherwise.

Safe Baby Devices

Parents may try to calm their fussy baby by driving around the neighborhood. Dr. Schmit said this practice is fine, but once the baby is back in the home they should be placed in the crib—not left in the car seat to continue sleeping. Dr. Schmit also urged any parent using a device such as the “Rock ‘n Play” to stop doing so immediately.

“The Rock ‘n Plays—an inclined sleeper that rocks—were recalled a couple of years ago due to being linked to multiple infant deaths around the country. Primarily, this was in situations where babies were strapped in and then rolling over and suffocating. It led to us recommending against all inclined sleepers because of that risk.”

For a list of approved baby devices, Dr. Schmit recommends parents discuss options with their pediatrician or visit websites such as healthykids.org or safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov.