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 From the President

By Millie Jones,  MPH

First, let me thank you all for the honor to serve as president of the AMCHP Board of Directors! For all the times I have read the bimonthly newsletter from AMCHP, never have I really stopped to think about the name "Pulse." But in my new role I find I am thinking about everything!

As I focused in on the newsletter name, the definition of "pulse" as "the perceptible emotions and sentiments of a group of people" resonated. While there has been the "regular beating of the heart" of the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant for more than 75 years, we are currently experiencing one of those times when the "pulse is in a transient amplification" and working very hard to return to equilibrium or steady state, i.e. sequestration, the ACA, continuing resolutions, state budgets.

But, in spite of all we experience in the MCH world, it always comes back to the groups of people we ultimately work for: the mothers, women, children, and families in our states and territories. My recent pulsating experience started as I was leaving the hotel after the 2013 AMCHP conference and a group of parents representing families and children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) took the opportunity to remind me to keep the momentum and focus on children and families with special health care needs. I assured them that I, along with the AMCHP board and staff, would work to maintain and strengthen the CYSHCN momentum and energy that had been so obvious at the conference.

I think those parents wanted to make sure that I heard them and took their request to "heart." In a most serendipitous moment on the plane ride back to Wisconsin, I ended up sitting beside a parent of several children with special health care needs. As she shared her story and pictures of her family with me, highlighting the recent serious and life threatening events of one of her children, I realized that our chance meeting was not one of chance at all. We both agreed when departing from the plane that we were meant to sit beside one another. You see, she clearly shared multiple definitions of the word "pulse." From the actual restart of her child’s heart as he coded, to the emotional roller coaster for her other children, her husband and herself, to her family’s struggle to financially reestablish themselves, she captured in one family’s story how we in MCH make a difference in the lives of families.

This parent did not know the Title V MCH Block Grant by name, she did not even know about our CYSHCN programs by name. However, as she talked about resources and support she was receiving for her children, I was proud to share with her that those regional and community-based resources are supported with Title V MCH Block Grant funds. She shared that without the comprehensive array of these services her children would not be alive and thriving. This encounter afforded me the opportunity to register the pulse of the work we do and the pulse of one family for whom we work.

Over the next two years as president of the AMCHP board, I will work to support the leadership priorities of our past president, Stephanie Birch, while setting additional ones that will serve to keep us connected to the "pulse" of our association. As I strive to keep my finger on the pulse, I know I can do that best with the help and guidance from each of you. I am counting on your honest feedback, your check in and your critique. So let me hear from you at millie.jones@WI.GOV.