Marching to Support the Health of Babies

By Pam Gessling, BSN, MBA, NEA-BC, RNC-OB, EFM-C
Director of Nursing for Women and Children’s Services,
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

April 21 is a day that many Methodist Health System employees are looking forward to. That’s the day we get to show our true color -- Methodist blue -- by supporting the health of babies in our community by participating in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies.

Why are we so passionate about this event? Everyone in Women and Children’s Services knows someone who has had a premature baby. They’ve seen the impact that premature births can have on babies and their families in terms of future health challenges and ongoing costs of care. They know that if prematurity can be prevented, the health of the community benefits.

Last year, more than 1,200 Methodist walkers raised a total of $144,000, the second-highest amount raised by any company in Dallas, and the largest amount raised by any health care organization. Participation in the Walk counts toward community service and nurses can use it toward the requirements for their clinical ladder points. Various activities are conducted at the Methodist campuses, fueling a friendly rivalry that propels our fundraising efforts to new heights each year.

During the past two years, the March of Dimes has provided more than $80,000 in grants and funding to the Life Shines Bright Pregnancy Program. Part of Methodist’s mission is to drastically reduce preterm birth rates in the Methodist Dallas Medical Center service area which unfortunately has one of the highest preterm delivery rates in the nation.

Through our Golden Cross Academic Clinic, which serves patients' wellness and chronic-illness management needs as well as trains physicians, we started a prenatal care model at Methodist Dallas Medical Center called Centering Pregnancy. Groups of moms-to-be with similar gestational periods participate in prenatal education on a regular basis to guide their care. We’re thrilled with the results that our efforts have achieved. From a preterm delivery rate of more than 20 percent three years ago, we have reduced the incidence to 6 percent today. We can truly see the results of our walking efforts translated into improved health for the babies and their families in our communities.

If I were a nurse considering a health care organization for my career, I would ask three questions about its support for the community:

  • Do you give back to the community?
  • How do you assess community needs to select organizations to support?
  • How much employee support do you have for these initiatives?

Why do I give back? I’ve volunteered for the March of Dimes for 25 years. My commitment, like that of most volunteers, stems from my personal experience. I was a premature twin. My sibling didn’t survive. I just want to make a difference for someone else. Everyone deserves their full nine months of gestation to help assure a healthy start in life.

If you’re searching for a career that benefits not only the patient but the community as well, then it’s time to choose Methodist. Learn more by visiting

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