Our 2016-17 Mississippi Advocacy Committee is composed of nine individuals from across the state with different occupations, who have a great interest in advocating for policy change for heart-health issues. Throughout the year, we have been introducing you to some of our members. Today, we'd like you to meet Dr. Mary Taylor of Jackson.
Occupation: Physician; Division Chief of both Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatric Critical Care at Batson Children’s Hospital; Co-Director of the Children’s Heart Center at Batson; Professor of Pediatrics
How long have you been a volunteer with the American Heart Association and in what capacity? Two years on the Mississippi Advocacy Committee, previously volunteered for Heart Walks in Nashville, Tenn. and Jackson, Miss.
Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the American Heart Association? I have dedicated my career to the care of children with congenital heart disease. As Co-Director of the Congenital Heart Program at Children’s, I am devoted to improving the lives of children and adults in Mississippi with congenital heart disease. The American Heart Association can have a huge impact by providing resources for research, offering information and education to the public, and promoting information to community leaders to help with resources for the care that we provide.
What heart-healthy issue is most important to you and why? Identification of newborns with congenital heart disease! The new policy that adds pulse oximetry screening for all Mississippi newborns is critical to helping identify infants with complex heart disease that will require evaluation and surgery in the newborn period. This early identification saves lives!
What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? I exercise regularly, at least three times per week, with aerobic activity. I focus on eating a healthy diet with maintenance of a healthy weight.
How is your community healthy that makes you proud? My neighborhood is filled with “walkers.” I am proud to know that many people in my community are conscious of the healthy choice in exercise.
How do you stay updated on public policies in your state? I follow public policies regarding health in the public media as well as on the intranet at my hospital. In addition, I learn about specific advocacy issues via the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee.
If you could help advocate for one change in your state, what would it be and why? Improve health education – encouraging healthy lifestyle in dietary choices and choices for reasonable and consistent exercise.
Do you have a favorite American Heart Association/American Stroke Association event you annually attend? What is your motivation to participate? I enjoy participating in the Heart Walk. It is a great feeling to be among such a large group of people, all interested in improving their health. Many of them are walking in honor of a family member with or other heart disease survivor. What an inspiration!
What have you learned in your time being a You’re the Cure advocate? I have learned about advocacy issues that I was previously unaware of and have learned ways to impact heart disease and stroke in my community and state.
Why would you tell a friend or family member to join You’re the Cure? You’re the Cure is a way that someone can truly make a difference in their community and see their advocacy in action.
Tell us one unique thing about yourself. I have travelled to Kenya every year for the past six years to provide care for infants, children, and adults with congenital heart disease and with rheumatic heart disease. We take a team of about 18 people to perform heart surgery in a mission hospital in rural East Africa. A large part of our mission is to educate the nurses and physicians in Kenya to empower them to develop a cardiac surgery program and to educate in basic and advanced life support.