At our mid-December Advocacy Committee meeting, I got to do one of the best things about being a volunteer with the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee. I was privileged to present the AHA "Heart of a Friend" Award to North Carolina State Representative Jim Fulghum. Dr. Fulghum is a freshman legislator from Wake County and although he is new to the legislative process, he has become a strong advocate for a variety of public health issues and has been a real leader for issues that are important to the American Heart Association.
Dr. Fulghum was the lead sponsor on the House Legislation that required pulse oximetry screening for all newborns in North Carolina. This law requires that babies be screened and is the best way to determine if a newborn has a critical congenital heart defect. If discovered early, these babies can get the proper medical care before they leave the hospital. As hard as it is to believe, there was opposition to this bill and I credit Dr. Fulghum and his Senate colleague Andrew Brock for their courage in standing up to the opponents and doing what is best for North Carolina's babies.
In December, we also recognized Dr. Fulghum for his sponsorship of the legislation to designate primary stroke centers, so patients and EMS will know the best place to take someone who is suffering a stroke. This is a major step forward in improving our stroke systems of care.
And then finally, and my personal favorite, we recognized Dr. Fulghum for his leadership in taking a bad bill being pushed by the tobacco industry to exempt e-cigarettes from the state's tobacco and smoke-free laws and regulations and turn it in to a good bill that made North Carolina one of a handful of states prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
Dr. Fulghum is truly a FRIEND to the American Heart Association and we all look forward to working with him on important health issues for years to come!
**Many thanks to Peg O’Connell for writing this post! Peg is an active You’re the Cure member and serves on our Advocacy Coordinating Committee.**