Our 2016-17 Mississippi Advocacy Committee recently named a new chairwoman, Claire Hick, to lead the committee this year. Claire Hick of Hernando is excited about stepping into this leadership role with the American Heart Association.
Claire served on the committee last year and was involved in several proclamations to recognize National Go Red For Women Day and American Heart Month in the cities of Hernando and Southaven. Claire's passion for improving the health of all Mississippians is encouraging and we are honored to have her lead and volunteer in this new role. Take a minute to know more about Claire.
How long have you been a volunteer with the AHA and in what capacity? I’ve worked for the past five years on our team, fundraising for the annual Heart Walk. I’ve recently taken a more active role this year organizing a larger fundraising event at our hospital. This is my second year serving on the Mississippi State Advocacy Committee. I was honored to be asked to serve as the Chairman.
In what capacity do you work in healthcare? I work for Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, a 339-bed hospital in Southaven, part of Baptist Memorial Health Care, as the director of marketing, volunteers, outpatient referral and patient satisfaction and administrator-on-call. I enjoy telling our story of healing, preaching and teaching and helping our community live healthier lives with care from providers at the No. 1 hospital in Mississippi, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the AHA? I see first-hand the great work the AHA does as an organization to save lives. Most recently, we partnered with the AHA putting red hats on babies born on National Wear Red Day in February. The hats were an education opportunity for new parents. The AHA successfully lobbied to pass legislation to check all babies born in our state for congenital heart conditions before leaving the hospital. Through the media, the new law was also publicized in several area newspapers with the red hat baby photos to educate the public. Another key initiative our committee helped pass in the last legislative session was healthy vending initiatives in schools and businesses across the state.
What heart-healthy issue is most important to you and why? Sudden cardiac arrest is an important issue to my family. Eight years ago, we lost our nephew to sudden cardiac arrest because an AED wasn't used on him in the less than seven minutes that is recommended. Since then, our family has raised funds at an annual event and placed more than 50 AEDs in public buildings, churches and sports venues in our area. Since installation, many of the AEDs have been used to save lives.
What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? My husband and I play tennis, and we are starting to teach our three-year-old son to play. On days we can’t make it to the courts, we enjoy spending time together in our backyard.
How is your community healthy that makes you proud? Our city, Hernando, has won multiple awards recently for promoting family health. They’ve added walking trails, resurfaced tennis courts, rebuilt playground equipment, organized scavenger hunts, built bike trails and held community walk/runs. Our mayor, Chip Johnson, has been the driving force to make Hernando a healthy city. My employer, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Desoto, is also a partner in the effort and has been the presenting sponsor for H.E.A.L. (Healthy Eating Active Living). This is an annual 10-week partnership created five years ago, that gives incentives to families for getting healthier, offering free weight-loss coaching, daily exercise classes and heart risk assessments.
Recently, I accepted proclamations on behalf of the American Heart Association in Southaven and Hernando for National Wear Red Day and National Heart Month. I'm proud of both of these cities where I work and live. It's encouraging to see them moving in the right direction of being more heart healthy.
How do you stay updated on current public policies in your state? The Mississippi Hospital Association, AHA and DeSoto Economic Council send e-newsletters with public policy updates, and our team works to discuss issues and legislation with our delegation.
If you could help advocate for changes in your state, what would it be and why? There are several key national and state focuses for 2016-2017 for our state committee. A few pieces of key legislation include: cardiac rehab: changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs, and the FAST Act: helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services. We will also work to keep access of care a high priority for our communities. Hospitals and clinics across the state are at risk with changes in reimbursement from now until 2020. Lobbying to maintain the economic impact of health care as an industry will be key to keep our communities healthy for the future.