The Livingston County Health Department’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is one of only two in Michigan to receive zero citations during a recent state audit. This is the first time Livingston County’s program achieved this distinction, and it’s even more remarkable that it came during a global pandemic.
Every two years, the WIC program is evaluated against 33 indicators of success. These indicators look at factors including policies, timeliness of scheduled visits, documentation of client interactions, and the benefits, referral resources, and nutrition and breastfeeding resources provided to clients.
During the pandemic, the LCHD WIC caseload increased by 14 percent, from 1,546 clients to 1,736. WIC provided these clients with $835,549 in food dollars during 2020. LCHD said in a release that it is proud of its WIC team for creating such a successful environment for the women, infants, and children of Livingston County. The WIC team not only took care of each of their clients during the pandemic, but they also provided staffing support during community COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Due to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order, the WIC team reevaluated its strategies to ensure members could continue providing services.
“We always put our clients first. We know how much stress our clients are going through and we want to be here to support them,” said Amy Pendell, WIC program coordinator. “Our team is dedicated to helping and going beyond, even during a pandemic. We want to ensure clients have what they need, when they need it.”
The WIC team used previous quality improvement training to adjust the program as pandemic guidance and restrictions changed. Appointments were transitioned to tele-visits. Handouts were digitized and sent to clients for ease of access. Benefit cards were sent through overnight delivery to ensure swift access. Text messages were sent to clients with benefit training videos and instructions. Staff then made a follow-up phone call for a benefit check-in.
“We work really, really hard and have a great team,” said Janet Slavin, WIC clerk. “We are excellent communicators and deal with every situation that comes our way – the good, the bad and the ugly. We ensure we deliver WIC support without judgement to every client. We are determined to keep our kids in the community fed.”
The WIC program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education. WIC serves low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk. To learn more about the Livingston County WIC program, click here.