Monday, February 24, 2014

Astronaut Kay Hire helps plant oaks donated by Eichold family at Murphy High School

Mobile, Ala. -- Astronaut and Murphy High School graduate Kay Hire attended a tree planting ceremony on Monday, Feb. 24, with Dr. Bernard Eichold who, along with his wife, Carolyn, recently donated eight oak trees to the Murphy campus. Also at the planting ceremony was Mobile County Public School System Superintendent Martha Peek, along with representatives of the Mobile County Board of School Commissioners, the Murphy High School Alumni Association and the Murphy High student body.

 The ceremony took place on the north side of the Murphy campus, near the Carlen House Museum. Murphy lost several of its trademark oaks in a Christmas Day tornado in 2012. Plans call for campus renovations to be complete by 2016, school officials said.

 Dr. Eichold, who serves as health officer for the Mobile County Health Department, has a long family history of planting trees across coastal Alabama, including oaks on the campus of the University of Mobile. A plaque at Murphy commemorates Eichold’s grandfather planting a tree every Arbor Day on the campus for much of the first half of the 20th century.

Dr. Eichold was instrumental in bringing Hire to Mobile this week, where she made scheduled appearances to speak to students and faculty at Murphy High School and a parochial school she attended as a child. Hire is scheduled to deliver a Mardi Gras flag flown in space to the Mobile City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, where council members will declare it “Kay Hire Day” in Mobile.

Hire has logged 711 hours in space in missions aboard the shuttles Columbia and Endeavor.  After graduating from Murphy, Hire attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where she received a bachelor of science in 1981. She was commissioned as a Naval Officer upon graduation and earned her Naval Flight Officer Wings in 1982. She flew worldwide oceanographic research missions to 25 countries and taught airborne Naval operations to more than 600 students. In 1993, she became the first female in the U.S. military to be assigned to a combat aircrew as a Naval Reserve Officer. She was later recalled to active duty supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the U.S. Naval Central Command Staff.

 Hire’s work with NASA began in 1989 at the Kennedy Space Center, where she served as an engineer. She processed Space Shuttles from landing through ground preparations and launch countdowns for more than 40 missions.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Going Red: MCHD staff wearing red to raise awareness about heart disease in women

MOBILE, Ala. -- Employees of the Mobile County Health Department dressed in hues of red on Feb. 7, 2014, in support of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign that aims to raise awareness of how rampant heart disease is among women.

In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is responsible for more deaths than all cancers combined, research shows. Most women don't realize they are just as likely as men to die from a heart attack or related health condition. MCHD officials urge women to know the signs of a heart attack and stroke.

Here are seven major symptoms of heart attack in women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources:
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Unusual upper body discomfort, including jaw pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
  • Feeling sick to the stomach
Those who want to learn more about women’s health and heart disease can visit or

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MCHD sets new agency record for Scale Back Alabama participation

MCHD employee Sheila St. Onge takes part in the Scale Back Alabama program
 on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 at the Mobile County Health Department.
 Registered dietitian Margaret McCulloch fills out a weigh-in card for St. Onge.  
MOBILE, Ala. -- More than 100 people have signed up to join the Scale Back Alabama program at the Mobile County Health Department, beating a goal of 80 workers on 20 teams, health officials said.

"We are thrilled to have 104 employees sign up to participate in the program," said MCHD registered dietitian Margaret McCulloch. Teams, which consist of four members, have until the end of this week to weigh in with McCulloch.

By 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at least half the teams had already weighed in, she said. Many teams expressed an interest in having a chance to win some coveted comp time, as well as other chances to win cash prizes through the state. Those weighing in received a bottle of water and a card to keep track of their weight loss during the 10-week program.

Teams who registered last week with McCulloch will have three opportunities to earn one hour of comp time during the weight loss initiative. Winners will be announced through email and this blog, health officials said.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Scale back MCHD: Lose weight, earn comp time

MOBILE, Ala. -- While slimming down may be its own reward, the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) wants to encourage employees to take part in this year’s Scale Back Alabama initiative by offering even more incentives to kick-start a healthier lifestyle in the new year.

MCHD’s Nutrition Services division has planned a variety of events and is offering some coveted comp time as a prize to keep teams motivated throughout the 10-week journey. There will be three separate chances for participating teams to win an hour each of comp time during the course of the program that spans from the week of Jan. 20 to the week of April 7.

MCHD Employees should notify Margaret McCulloch by Wednesday Jan. 15 if they want to take part. She can be contacted by email at  or by phone at 690-8173. MCHD weigh-ins will begin the week of Jan. 20. Weigh-outs will conclude 10 weeks later during the week of April 7.

“Don’t worry if you don’t have a team yet,” said McCulloch, a registered dietitian with MCHD. “Our staff will be glad to help people find teams to join. Our goal is to sign up 80 employees this year.”

Here’s how to qualify for comp time award drawings:

·         Scale Back teams who sign up by Jan. 13 will be entered in a drawing on Jan. 17 to win one hour of compensatory time per member, for a total of four hours.

·         For teams where all four members each lose a total of five pounds at the half-way point, there will be another drawing on Feb. 28 for another four hours of comp time, or one hour per person.
·         The final four hours of comp time -- again with one hour allotted for each team member -- will be awarded to one participating MCHD team at the eight-week point.  To qualify for the drawing, each team member must have lost 8 pounds by the eighth week of the program.

Scale Back Alabama is a statewide weight-loss contest designed to encourage residents to get healthy and have fun along the way. The program is primarily conducted through participating local businesses, including hospitals and health departments. People compete on teams of four to win the chance at cash prizes. There is no charge for taking part. Since the first contest in 2007, state residents have lost more than one million pounds.
Besides the drawings, other activities have been planned, including salad bar lunches where employees can sign up to bring an ingredient and then stay for an informative talk from a member of the nutrition services staff. Door prizes will be awarded during the weekly lunches as well.

 “We want to encourage everyone to make healthier nutrition choices, and this is a great way to start,” McCulloch said of taking part in Scale Back Alabama. “Making meaningful changes is always easier when you have friends and co-workers encouraging each other.”

There are dozens of other cash prizes available for those who take part in the Scale Back Alabama contest. Team prizes for the 2014 contest will be announced during a webcast April 25. Individual prizes will be posted on the Scale Back Alabama website after the conclusion of the webcast.

Team Prizes
·           To be eligible for team prizes, each team member must lose at least 10 pounds during the 10-week contest, as recorded by a coordinator at an official Scale Back Alabama weigh-in site.
·               Winning teams are determined by a random drawing from all eligible teams.
·               The first team drawn wins $1,000 per team member, or a total of $4,000 for the entire team.
·               The second team drawn wins $500 per team member, or a total of $2,000 for the entire team.
·               The third team drawn wins $250 per team member, or a total of $1,000 for the entire team.
Individual Prizes
·               All individuals who lose at least 10 pounds, as recorded by a coordinator at an official Scale Back Alabama weigh-in site, are eligible for an individual prize, regardless of their team's achievement. However, individuals that are drawn for a team prize are not eligible to win the individual prizes.
·               From the pool of eligible contestants, 50 individuals drawn win one of 50 achievement prizes of $100 per person.
Prizes For Anyone Who Loses Weight
·               All individuals who lose at least one pound, as recorded by a coordinator at a Scale Back Alabama weigh-in site, are eligible for a prize, regardless of their team's achievement. However, individuals who are drawn for a team prize and one of the individual prizes are not eligible to win these prizes.
·               From the pool of eligible contestants, five individuals drawn win one of five prizes of $50 per person.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blinging in the new year with GEM kick-off party

MCHD employees Stephanie Crawford, Darlene Burrell and Jayne Wilson
check out the new gemstones and employee nomination forms during a
kickoff event held Jan. 6, 2014 at the Mobile County Health Department
downtown. Health workers are being encouraged to nominate others who
Go the Extra Mile during their course of their jobs.

Public Health workers encouraged to Go the Extra Mile in Mobile County

MCHD's simulated rubies, emeralds and diamonds weren't going anywhere
 on Jan. 6, 2014, under the watchful eye of Vernon Williams, also
known as MCHD's Chief of Security. Dozens of employees
got an up close and personal look at the bling that will become a daily
reminder of those who Go the Extra mile on the job.
MOBILE, Ala. -- With an armed guard keeping watch over hundreds of shimmering gems, Health Officer Dr. Bernard Eichold announced the launch of a new employee appreciation program “Going the Extra Mile” or GEM,  which will replace the David Previto Employee of the Year award at MCHD.
Employees sipped hot chocolate and shared slices of cake during a kick off for the new program held at 251 N. Bayou Street in the historic Keeler building on the downtown campus.  Disco music boomed in the background as Dr. Eichold talked about how the new program works.
Everyone is encouraged to nominate colleagues they see going the extra mile. There is also a team category for groups of workers who go above and beyond their normal duties.  Nomination forms will be avilable online to make it easier to recognize dynamic performance, MCHD leaders said.

Friday, January 3, 2014

MCHD employees encouraged to Go the Extra Mile with new GEM recognition program

Beginning in January 2014, MCHD staff will have a new way to recognize the dynamic performance of other coworkers and teams within the agency as the GEM program is launched on January 6 with a series of kick off parties at all service locations. GEM stands for Going the Extra Mile. Employees are encouraged to nominate others when they see them going above and beyond their job duties. Groups of employees also can be nominated for recognition within the new program.

There are five nomination categories: Quality, which can mean showing regard or consideration to co-workers, clients and administration; Service, which includes making customers feel valued and showing empathy; Growth, a category that covers those who remain positive no matter the situation or who focus on developing the potential of the MCHD; People, those who work well with others and always assist; Unsung Hero, those who are often behind the scenes doing things such as picking up trash or assisting clients outside their normal job duties.

Here’s how it works. Each nomination an employee receives equals 10 points, if approved by the GEM committee. The GEM committee will review each nomination to ensure the points are deserved. Prizes will be awarded based on how many nominations an employee receives during a specific time period.

Level 1: Ruby  An employee must earn 50 points from five nominations. Prizes include a simulated ruby lapel pin, a T-shirt and 2 hours of comp time.

Level 2: Emerald  An employee must earn 150 points, or 15 nominations. Prizes include a simulated
emerald lapel pin, a T-shirt and 4 hours of comp time.

Level 3: Diamond  An employee must earn 300 points, or 30 nominations, which requires someone to achieve the Ruby and Emerald levels in a fiscal calendar year. He or she will receive a simulated
diamond lapel pin, a T-shirt and 8 hours of comp time. In addition, employees who achieve the diamond level will be eligible to receive the Diamond of the Year Award.

 (Please note that comp time awarded to GEM members must receive prior approval by a department supervisor.)

 Membership has its rewards. The Diamond of the Year will be recognized at the MCHD December awards banquet, receive 24 hours of comp time, and be recognized in the employee newsletter, Culture.

A TEAM GEM category also has been created. Employees should nominate departments in one of
five categories listed below. Nominations may be entered on MCHD’s intranet. Each TEAM GEM will receive lunch of
their choice and a traveling trophy. TEAM GEMS will be awarded per quarter.

 The five categories are: Service, which means demonstrating the ability to listen to customers, internally and externally; Quality: this team shows they can work together to implement suggestions and other changes as needed; Growth: this team exhibits creativity in the workplace that increase productivity, teamwork or excellence; People, this groups truly makes a difference, perhaps by assisting with an outside vendor, or other clients or customers; Unsung Heroes: This team works behind the scenes to make MCHD a better place by picking up trash, assist clients, etc., outside their normal job duties.