By E.I. Hillin
Phoenix Staff Writer
On average, eight babies die a week in Oklahoma, according to statistics from the state Department of Health, and those are numbers that D’Elbie Walker can’t tolerate.
“It jerks at my heart,” Walker said. “It makes me as a health professional want to do what I can.”
Walker, a health professional at the Muskogee County Health Department, is helping coordinate a community baby shower Thursday afternoon at the Muscogee Indian Community Center.
The main goal of the shower is to educate first-time mothers, foster parents, or guardians in the community.
From 2008 to 2012, the overall infant mortality rate for Muskogee County was 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The African American rate of 15.2 deaths per 1,000 live births was nearly twice the state average of 8.0, and was 2l.4 times higher than the Caucasian rate of 6.3, according to data from the Health Department.
“There’s a lot of things that can lower the number,” Walker said.
Those things include community awareness and events like the baby shower.
Stefanie Buckskin, fundraising chairman for the Cherokee Nation, said she wishes she had this event during her pregnancy.
“It’s a great opportunity for moms to come learn,” Buckskin said.
Lunch will be served and then cake. Experts from local hospitals and clinics will share information on topics such as safe sleep, nutrition, breast-feeding, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) services, shaken baby syndrome, infant CPR, and a cooking demo on how to make homemade baby food.
“I’m going to be doing the homemade baby food cooking demo,” Buckskin said.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. David Gahn from W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah. Walker said there will be booths set up from different agencies at the baby shower for the guests.
“So, they will know what services are there to help them,” Walker said.
Donations from the community will enable the sponsors to hand out gift packages.
“We want to make sure they all walk away with something,” Walker said.
The medical experts, community partners, and members of the community who wish to donate can all help to make the baby shower a success.
“It’s a community effort. It’s one of those that tugs at your heart, and people are giving back,” Walker said.
Seating is limited. Call the Muskogee Health Department to RSVP.
Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or email@example.com.
To get help
• Prenatal Care Hotline — English (800) 311-2229 /Spanish (800) 504-7081.
• Pregnancy Resource Center — (918) 683-2020.
• Infant Supply Closet — (918) 681-6115.
• The Baby Basket — (918) 687-4693.
• Smart Start Events —Targeting mothers and infants, (918) 682-8407.
• Tonya James, child development specialist, Muskogee County Health Department — (918) 683-0321.
If you go
WHAT: Community Baby Shower hosted by Muskogee County Health Department.
WHEN: Noon to 2 p.m. Thursday.
WHERE: Muscogee Indian Community Center, 335 N. Fourth St.
INFORMATION: Free, but RSVP, Barb Elmore, (918) 683-0321.
ETC.: Drop off items from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. any weekday at the Muskogee County Health Department, 530 S. 34th St.
Baby baths, baby body wash, booties, baby bowls, baby brushes and combs, baby care kits (bulb syringe, nail scissors, and hair kits), baby carriers (sling wrap or pack carrier), lotion, monitors, nail clippers, nipples, safety scissors, baby shampoo, spoons, baby wipes, bassinets or co-sleepers, bibs, books (plastic or vinyl for bath time), bottle brushes, bottles, bouncer seats, breast pumps, bunting, burp cloths, car seats, changing pads, changing tables, cradles, crib blankets, crib mattresses, crib sheets, crib size quilts or comforters, cribs, diaper bags, diaper cream, diaper pails, diapers (newborn and size one), digital thermometers, doughnuts (padded ring) of PlayNes (age 4-6 months), first aid kits, gliders, baby gowns, Gripe Water, high chairs, infant acetaminophen (Tylenol), baby kimonos, milk storage bags, mobiles, musical toys, nasal aspirators, newborn caps, night lights, nursing bras, nursing nightgowns for mom, nursing pads, nursing pillows, nursing shawls for mom, nursing tops for mom, onesies, pacifiers, photo cubes, play mats/gyms, rattles, receiving blankets, rocking chairs, sippy cups, sleep bras, sleepers for baby, sleepsacks, socks, soothies gel pads, strollers, swaddling blankets, sweaters, swings, teething rings, washcloths, waterproof pads.