Tag Archives: neighborhood

What’s Your Story?

what is your story question in vintage wooden letterpress printing blocks, stained by color inks, isolated on white

Do you have a story you’d like to share about the importance of prenatal care? Have you been involved in a successful program and want to share your story? Do you belong to an organization in Shelby County that could benefit others to ensure their baby is healthy? We are looking for personal stories for the IMRI blog, and we’d like to feature you as a guest blogger! Send an email to ShelbycountyIMRI@gmail.com and someone from our team will be in contact with you.


What’s Your Story?

what is your story question in vintage wooden letterpress printing blocks, stained by color inks, isolated on white

Do you have a story you’d like to share about the importance of prenatal care? Have you been involved in a successful program and want to share your story? Do you belong to an organization in Shelby County that could benefit others to ensure their baby is healthy? We are looking for personal stories for the IMRI blog, and we’d like to feature you as a guest blogger! Send an email to ShelbycountyIMRI@gmail.com and someone from our team will be in contact with you.

Effective February 15, 2016, flu vaccine is now FREE at all Shelby County Health Department clinics

Shirley Jewell

Why the Flu Vaccine?

By: Shirley A. Jewell, BSN, RN

Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) Immunization Program

(901) 222-9329

People have numerous questions concerning the flu and the need to be vaccinated. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine every year, including pregnant women. According to CDC guidelines, it is recommended that pregnant women get a flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy to protect themselves and their unborn child. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Below are some important questions and answers about the flu.

What is the flu?

The “flu” is a short name for influenza. It is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The infection is caused by a virus. In the United States “flu season” can begin as early as October and last as long as May. It is highly recommended that you get vaccinated against the flu by October, if not as soon as possible.

How is the flu spread?

The flu is contagious. It spreads mainly when people sneeze or cough and droplets land in the mouth of people close by. Also you can get the flu if an object such as toys, doorknobs or used tissue has the virus on it and the person touches their eyes, nose or mouth after touching these objects.

A person can spread the flu to others 1 day before he or she is sick and as long as 5 to 7 days after becoming ill. Children and people who are very sick can spread the flu longer than 7 days after getting sick.

Is the flu serious?

The flu can be mild to serious. It can even lead to death. Anyone can become very sick from the flu but it is most dangerous for babies, young children, pregnant women and people 65 years and older. Also the flu can be serious for those with long term health problems such as asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Flu symptoms can be different depending on age.

The symptoms may include:

  • fever ( everyone may not have a fever with the flu)
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • cough
  • runny or stuffy nose

There may be vomiting and diarrhea in children

What can I do to protect myself and others from the flu?

The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. It protects not only you, but others from getting the flu.

Others ways to protect against the flu, along with the flu shot includes:

  • Cough or sneeze into the sleeve of your shirt or a tissue. Throw the used tissue away.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay away from people that are sick as much as possible
  • If you have the flu, stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of fever medicine such as Tylenol. Leave your home only for emergencies and to get medical care.

Lead Poisoning Can Be Prevented

Tunishia Kuykindall

Tunishia S. Kuykindall, AAS, BS
Environmental Technical Specialist/Master Healthy Homes Practitioner
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Shelby County Health Department
814 Jefferson Ave.
Memphis, TN 38105
Office: 901-222-9128
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Lead poisoning is having too much Lead in the body.  Our bodies have no known use for Lead.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the level of concern in children 6 years-old and younger is 5µg/dL.  Younger children are the most susceptible to Lead poisoning and the harmful effects caused (learning disabilities, growth impairment, and death) due to continued brain development and hand-to-mouth activities.  Lead poisoning occurs in homes built on or before 1978 that were painted with Lead-based paint.  Children that have been poisoned usually have come in contact with Lead dust, but eating paint chips has also been observed.

Ways to avoid Lead poisoning include keeping paint in good repair and washing children’s hands and faces often.  The safest way to make sure repairs are completed correctly in older homes is to hire a Lead certified contractor to remove and restore any chipping/peeling paint.  If a child is Lead poisoned, the first step would be to remove the source of Lead.  If high levels of Lead are found in a child’s blood, chelation treatment is needed to prevent death.

Help through the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is available through two housing programs in our county:  Shelby County Housing Department HUD Lead reduction program and the Housing and Community Development program through the City of Memphis HUD program.  Lead certified contractors work through these programs to perform safe Lead renovations on residential properties for property owners who are unable to completely afford to maintain properties built on or before 1978 that house children.

Healthy Homes

The environment within our homes contributes greatly to our health.  There are seven main principles to maintaining a healthy home:  keeping our homes dry, clean, pest-free, ventilated, safe, contaminant-free, and maintained.

Keeping our homes dry and ventilated can be done by eliminating areas of excess moisture which can greatly reduce mold build-up as well as pests.  Repairing leaks and venting steam to areas outside of the home reduces moisture build-up.  Some ways to do so are to utilize bathroom fans while showering and kitchen vent fans while cooking.

Keeping our homes clean and pest-free involves removing clutter, dirt, dust, and trash.  Doing so makes our homes safer from causing injury, uninviting to pests, and reduces health issues such as asthma.  One way to keep a clean and pest-free home includes wet cleaning at least once per week instead of sweeping, which cause dust to become airborne and then settle again.

Keeping our homes safe and contaminant-free increases our health.  Ways to keep our homes safer are to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well as keeping all harmful objects, chemicals, and medicines out of the reach and sight of children.  To keep a home contaminant-free, it is important to not introduce tobacco smoke indoors.  Other ways to reduce contaminants are to avoid using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (found in many air fresheners, sprays, certain glues, outdoor paints, or some building materials).  When installing new flooring or purchasing new furniture, open doors and windows to ventilate the house from the build-up of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.

Keeping our homes maintained prevents small problems from growing into larger problems.  A small hole in the home can allow entry for insects and also small rodents.  Cracks in a home’s foundation or leaks around windows can allow excess moisture to enter the home allowing mold growth.  Damaged gutters can also create a problem by not allowing moisture to travel away from a home.

Overall, maintaining a healthy, lead-safe home greatly impacts our health.  A healthy home equates to a healthier you.

Click here to watch the Shelby County Health Department’s PSA on healthy homes and lead. 

For more information visit the following websites:





Tuberculosis Disease Could Be Silently Killing Your Kid(s)

tuberculosis bus

Tuberculosis Disease Could Be

Silently Killing Your Kid(s)

Ashley Ross, MPH

Public Health Coordinator – TB Outreach

Shelby County Health Department

Parents try their hardest to protect their children from negative influences they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Whether it is peer pressure, unhealthy friends, television shows, or the screening of social media pages, parents do it all to ensure the safety of their offspring. But what if what was harming your child or children was something that couldn’t be detected by your sixth sense as a parent? What if what was harming your kid(s) moved around your home every day, and you’ve never thought about how it could inadvertently impact your entire household? What if the threat was simply you? Yes, that’s correct; you may possibly be putting your baby or babies at risk by exposing them to “Pediatric” TB disease.

Tuberculosis infection can go undetected for years in healthy adults before converting into TB disease making them sick. After becoming infectious, parents oftentimes spread their TB germs to loved ones living within their households especially those under five years of age. These germs are spread when parents cough, sneeze, talk, sing, or laugh. The germs are then carried by the air and inhaled by a person not infected with TB. Most pediatric cases of TB disease can be linked to an adult case during a contact investigation. There were twenty-six cases of TB disease among individuals under the age of fifteen in Shelby County between 2012 and 2014, and of that, eighty-one percent were nine years of age or younger. Although tuberculosis can affect anyone, eighty-one percent of the cases were among non-Hispanic, African-American individuals.

This is why it is so important for families to know their tuberculosis statuses. If you have TB infection, treatment is needed to stop it from progressing to TB disease and making you sick in the future. If someone has a definite diagnosis of TB disease, the individual must obtain treatment to prevent it from being spread to children, as well as, the general public.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has tuberculosis disease or infection, please contact the TB Control Program at (901)-222-2664. For more information on tuberculosis, contact Ashley Ross at (901)-222-9651 or email at ashley.ross@shelbycountytn.gov.

Vision of Health: Aspirational and Achievable

Yvonne Madlock

Yvonne Madlock

Director, Shelby County Health Department

After 20 years in this role, today is my last day of service as the Director of the Shelby County Health Department.

I want to take this opportunity to share several thoughts related to infant mortality reduction and community health improvement.

As a public health practitioner and leader, as a mother and as an African-American woman committed to Shelby County, my adopted home, improving infant mortality in this community has been a major focus and a personal and professional goal throughout my career.

I am extremely proud and grateful for the significant improvements that we, as a community, have made in increasing the likelihood that babies born in Shelby County are born healthy and live to see their first birthdays.

From a place known for having one of the worst rates of infant mortality, Shelby County is now known as a place where change can happen and a vision of health can be achieved. This is possible because of sustained focus and strategic work by a broad cross-section of people, agencies and organizations committed to accomplishing a single common goal.

We have reduced the number (and rate) of babies who die in our county from 183 (rate of 12.8) in 2004 to 127 (rate of 9.2) in 2013. Preliminary data indicates we have sustained that decline in number and rate through 2014. As a community we have demonstrated and seen we can work together to achieve what may have seemed to be impossible.

Yet, we still have much to do. I believe our ongoing work to create a shared vision of health (a vision that includes physical and emotional well-being, prosperity and safe, vibrant and attractive communities for all our residents and visitors) must both become more focused and at the same time must expand to a broader horizon.

We have at least two major challenges:

1. Eliminating the racial disparities that exist in the health of our babies and children.

2. Creating a community where all children are valued and nurtured by adults in all communities.

We must focus now on reducing the threefold disparity in rate of deaths between black and white babies and work to change the fact that the actual number of black babies who die in Shelby County is almost 8 times greater than the number of non-Hispanic white babies in Shelby County. Changing this reality means working just as hard and with as much commitment and focus to change the day to day reality of persons in our community who live in poverty, in sub-standard homes and located in unsafe neighborhoods and whose children are not experiencing success in school.

Just as we have been able to assure that infants are born and stay healthy, it’s important that we work just as hard to protect our babies and assure that they are healthy in mind, body and spirit as they progress through childhood and adolescence into young adulthood.

Supporting families (of all shapes and sizes), strengthening parenting skills, creating positive role models for children, investing in early childhood and strong educational opportunities for all children to prepare them for full and meaningful employment — all of these are key to healthy communities and a bright future for all of us in Shelby County.

Let me thank each of you who has done so much to help Shelby County improve its infant mortality rates. You have demonstrated that vision of health is not only aspirational but achievable.

Lets use the lessons and successes of our infant mortality reduction work to guide and inspire us to secure this future for us all.

Mama, I Don’t Feel Good


“Mama, I Don’t Feel Good”

By: Juanita White

Community Building Manager, Binghampton Development Corporation

I work in Binghampton. It is in the heart of the city. Close to the zoo. The Children’s Museum is nearby. The Green Line, a walking and biking trail, runs right through it. Cars drive down Tillman, the heart of Binghampton, as people come into the city from the suburbs or as they leave the city for them. It is an interesting place. Until the bullets ring out.

On pretty days when the sun is shining and children play in the park somebody might fire a gun at someone else. Did you know that? And people run. People lock their doors. Others run to look. Those of us who work here look out of the window or go to the door to peer out.

Or it might disturb your sleep at night. It happens when children are sitting in their classrooms, trying to learn. Police come. Sometimes. Sometimes not. You see, this happens here. Not a whole lot, but enough that people are used to it. “They are always shooting,” is what the people say. Night and day.

But somewhere in Binghampton a child feels bad after this happens. Whether it is Binghampton, or South Memphis, or Frayser or Bartlett or Collierville-a child gets sick when there is violence. Know how I know this?

When you are stressed or upset does your head ache? When you are scared do you get sick to your stomach? Does the sight of a dead animal in the street make you want to throw up? Imagine experiencing these things in your neighborhood a lot-enough that it makes you sick. Imagine a child in a home, or on a street or in a neighborhood where this happens. Imagine that child trying to sleep, to concentrate in school, to play peacefully with friends.

Studies show that children exposed to violence-in the home or in the neighborhood- have many problems. According to one study in Wisconsin preschool-aged children who witness intimate partner violence (violence between couples) may develop a range of problems, including headaches and abdominal pain. They also can display behaviors such as bed-wetting, thumb sucking, and sleep disturbances.

When the violence happens in the neighborhood children become depressed. They are scared. They worry. They act out in school because they are fearful. A child may begin to think that violence at home and in the community means that the world is unsafe and that he or she is unworthy of protection. Community violence is also linked to anxiety and depression.

After a recent murder in Binghampton a teenager told me about what he saw. He and his friends were coming from the movies and saw the police cars so they went to the scene to see what happened. “I saw the dude and his heart was hanging out. I saw his guts.” He shook his head and made a face, a not so pleasant face. I wonder if he wanted to vomit when he saw that. You think he sees that image over and over? You bet.

Is this what we want for our children?

October is Domestic Violence Month. We will host a conference Friday, October 2, 2015 to hear more about domestic violence and its effects on children. Maybe we can work together to do something about this. Join us. Email Juanita@bdcmemphis.org for more information.