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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Health conference aims to find solutions through connections

Haylee Coolen
Attendees at the Maternity and Child Health Equity Conference discussed various issues that impact mothers and children’s well-being.

The theme for the Maternity and Child Health Equity Conference on Friday was “Connect, Create, and Collaborate: Generating Proven Solutions for our State.” Psychology professor Rhonda Lewis did just that when organizing the conference. 

“I really want it to serve as a connector between practitioners, researchers, funders, policymakers and community members,” Lewis said. “That’s been the whole goal of our whole process.”

Students were connected to researchers, health professionals and various experts on social determinants for the health of women and children. Attendees collaborated with them and each other to discuss ideas and changes they hoped to see in the future regarding current issues such as housing, mental health and poverty. 

The main focus at hand was social determinants. 

“The social determinants of health means housing, economic issues, racism, poverty, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence,” Lewis said. “Just the whole gamut of the environment that may impact why a mother may die or suffer morbidity or a child may not live.” 

She said that all these issues are detrimental to the well-being of mothers and their children in Kansas, and something must be done to improve the situation. 

“We thought if we keep working within our silos, that’s why things are not working. We have to break down the silos and work together, which is really the purpose of the convergent science grant,” Lewis said.

Lewis brought various researchers, funders, and students entering health and social work professions into the conference. 

The “poster room,” which had many research studies displayed on each and every wall, included studies from Kansas Communities that Care, “Connecting WIC Clients with Dentists,” “Skin Changes in Pregnancy,” “a Survey on the Acceptability of a Wearable Fetal Heart Rate Monitor,” and more. 

Rachel Phillips, who presented Kansas Communities that Care Student Survey, described some of her work at the conference. 

“(The survey) helps us see how kids are recovering their experiences in growing,” Phillips said. “It’s a survey that’s based on criteria for prevention framework, and it measures risk and protective factors.” 

Rose Seidu, another researcher at the Maternal and Child Health Equity Conference, shared a variety of perspectives on her research about breastfeeding support and rates.

“Sometimes I want to do something different. Teaching them and showing (nursing mothers) how to do it is most effective,” Seidu said. 

Kyle Lowe, a CareSource representative, explained how variations between state health plans can impact new Kansas residents.

“We want to make sure that we understand what the unique challenges in Kansas are because if you’ve been to one state Medicaid plan, you don’t know them all,” Lowe said.

The conference demonstrates that it was a learning process for everyone involved. 

Attendee Savannah Paschal said she hoped to learn about what others were doing in regard to health care and language access with Civic Engagement purposes, which was her focus. 

“I definitely got that out of it,” Paschal said “Made some wonderful connections, saw some wonderful viewpoints, heard about what other people are doing.”

Lailani Lemus, a Wichita State alum, said someone would have to intentionally isolate themself to not learn from the conference.

“These kinds of things, especially for our students, are a really great way for us to network, get some more ideas, research, see how other people are publishing their data, get inspired on different ways to present, things like that.”

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About the Contributors
Genesis Merriett
Genesis Merriett, Reporter
Genesis Merriett is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She is a sophomore majoring in mathematics, however, Merriett enjoys writing as well. She is originally from Missouri, but lived in Colorado for most of her life until moving to Wichita five years ago. Additionally, she enjoys drawing, crochet and exploring new places in her free time.
Haylee Coolen
Haylee Coolen, Former illustrator/designer
Haylee Coolen was an illustrator/designer for The Sunflower.

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