Every year, Cradle Cincinnati presents its Champions of Change awards to individuals in the community who are fighting for the health of our moms and babies. On September 23rd, Cradle Cincinnati Co-Chair and County Commissioner, Todd Portune, presented our 2015 Champions of Change awards to six diverse Cincinnatians. Our 2015 Champion for Better Care was Veree Russell, a nurse and health educator for Healthy Moms and Babes. Veree provides comprehensive prenatal education for mothers and has played an important role in the implementation of their mobile health unit, which provides OB/GYN services to women in some of Cincinnati’s most vulnerable communities.

Below Veree gives us an inside look into her work at Healthy Moms and Babes and how its making a difference for mothers and babies in Cincinnati.

Veree Russell & Sister Tricia Compressed

Veree Russell and Sister Tricia Cruise

How does your everyday work help to improve outcomes for mothers and babies in Cincinnati?

At Healthy Moms and Babes, we make an impact in the 12 neighborhoods we serve by providing testing services and education for moms every day. We carry out our services through our mobile unit, which helps lessen the stress of trying to access these services.

What inspires you to help mothers and babies in the Cincinnati area?

I’m inspired to help mothers and babies because I’m a mother, and I could have used Healthy Moms & Babes’ services when I was younger. My daughter also has a lot of questions about pregnancy and preterm birth, and my daughter-in-law had preterm labor and deliveries.  I can’t help but put myself in the places some of our moms are and want to let them know they can have good outcomes.

Why is Infant Mortality important to you?

Losing a baby at any time is a hard thing to accept, but to lose so many babies before their first birthday is unimaginable.  Trying to help alleviate this problem in our city is a responsibility that belongs to all of us who work with moms and babies.  If I don’t let people know it’s important to me, then I am not doing my job.

How do you plan on continuing to support Cincinnati mothers and babies in the future?

I plan to volunteer for Healthy Moms and Babes after retirement, because I feel so connected to this agency and the support it gives to moms and babies.

When was a time or moment in your professional career that made you proud? 

I have to say being a recipient of the Champions for Change, specifically Champion for Better Care made me very proud, but also made me feel very humble.  It’s such an honor to be recognized for doing work that is making a difference.  It also energizes me to continue to try to make an impact on the system to change how we serve women and children.