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Local nurse recognized for boosting health of newborns

Christa Zubieta’s efforts help newborns, mothers
Christa Zubieta was awarded the Daisy Award by the Nurse Family Practice and Invest in Kids organizations for her efforts to improve newborn health.

Local nurse Christa Zubieta has been honored with the Daisy Award for her work promoting women’s health in Montezuma County.

Zubieta works in the Nurse Family Partnership program within the county health department. She was recognized for her efforts to educate mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding newborns throughout their first year. She also brought to light the need for local employers to support breastfeeding-friendly workplaces.

The education campaign began after the health department noticed local data that showed a decrease in the number of mothers who breastfed their newborns after six months, said Allison Duran, assistant health director.

“Initiation was good, but sustainability was low, and our team pondered what was happening,” she said.

As part of a community project, Zubieta was instrumental in forming a campaign that included creating an informative pamphlet and partnering with local agencies on the issue, including Southwest Memorial Hospital, doctors offices, and Ute Mountain and Navajo tribes.

“Christa took the lead in the project and is a committed, caring health professional who strengthens our community,” Duran said in presenting the award.

Zubieta said the successful campaign was due to a “team effort” of staff and the community. She said breastfeeding rates for newborns of clients within the Nurse Family Practice program have improved from 44 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2017, above the state and national averages for that program.

“Christa also voiced the need to make sure that businesses in our community are following state and federal laws regarding breastfeeding for employees and patrons,” Duran said.

Because many health department clients who have newborns work in fast food restaurants, staff plans to reach out to managers and go over policies surrounding the issue, and encourage them to place a breastfeeding-friendly sticker on their window.

During a recent advisory board meeting, Zubieta noted other recent successes of the health department’s Nurse Family Practice team, including reducing smoking rates of first time pregnant moms, and increased immunizations for children.

Also at the meeting, the advisory board chose their health project for 2018, which will be a campaign to reduce the rate of low birth weight babies in the county.

They board cited statistics showing the low birth weight rate for the county’s Nurse Family Practice clients at 11 percent, compared with the state average of 9.9 percent for that program. Since last year, local low birth weight rates have been increasing, officials said.

“Low birth weight has been a longtime problem for our community, and it is worth looking into to find out why so we can improve that health issue,” said health department director Bobbi Lock.

Some risk factors for low birth weight are high blood pressure, smoking, poor diet, mental health issues, not enough exercise, and lifestyle choices that lead to unwanted pregnancies.

The Daisy Award is presented quarterly in Colorado to recognize outstanding nurses in the state.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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