By The Milwaukee Courier
Mayor Tom Barrett appointed Julia Means, Registered Nurse, to the City of Milwaukee’s newly created Board of Health last month on June 27. The nine-member commission will advise the Health Department on policy and advocate for public health practices that improve health outcomes for all Milwaukeeans. The citizen oversight board was created by legislation adopted by the Milwaukee Common Council and signed by the Mayor in February of 2019.
Means, a Community Health Ministry Nurse with Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, part of Ascension Wisconsin, touches countless lives everyday through her faith-based work promoting education around chronic disease management, food security, infant mortality in our community and health navigation. Through Mean’s tireless work and dedication, she has made an incredible impact on many in the community.
“I don’t know Julia Means personally, but when I hear her name, the first word that comes to my mind is mentor,” said Kymm Robinson, Sherman Park neighborhood.
The importance of maternal and infant health cannot be overemphasized because it determines the health of the next generation and can help predict future public health challenges for families and our community.
“My cousin was a participant in the Blanket of Love Program and my auntie isn’t around to help her, so the program was important,” said neighbor Justin Patterson. “Julia Means is a teacher, a protector, a rescuer and a second mother. She’s a guardian angel. Without her, I don’t know where my baby cousin would be right now.”
Means is an instrumental mentor to young women and men because she had powerful mentors in her own life.
“I would never be where I am today without someone pushing me,” Means said. “I can help others because I had help.
By combining her nursing skills and her faith, Means has made an impact on Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s and across Ascension Wisconsin. She created an innovative collaboration with church congregations, city officials, homeless shelters, neighborhood centers, community partners and programs to create the “Blanket of Love” program in 2004. The program connects participants to resources that can help lower stress, support wellness and eliminate the two most preventable causes of infant death in Milwaukee: premature births and unsafe sleeping environments.
In 1996, Means became the first Parish Nurse at Ebenezer Church of God Christ. As a Parish Nurse, Means connected the church with the community.
“I’m blessed to work for an organization that fosters and encourages people to have faith in God. Ascension Wisconsin not only allows but encourages me to do my work and not hide my faith,” said Means. “If you take care of God’s business, He’ll take care of your business.” Means truly believes this is due to the countless examples of how God continues to work in her life and the lives of her participants.
“I see myself as the bridge between the community and the hospital. I’m an advocate for people in the community that feel they have no voice,” she added.
While Means is out and about, people always approach her and tell her how she’s impacted their lives. Children even run to her and call her grandma. “I have a new grandchild every day,” Means said.
Means is honored and thankful to wake up every day and do this work. Although people give Means recognition for the work she does daily, Means credits God.
“It’s not my work, It’s God’s work. I am grateful He chose me,” said Means.
Ascension St. Joseph Hospital is holding their 22nd Annual Concerts in the Park Series, Celebrating 140 years of service to the community. All concerts run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Ballpark food will be on sale at all concerts, with proceeds benefiting a different neighborhood school each concert. There will also be free blood pressure and diabetes screening, fresh farmer’s market, courtesy of Mount Cavalry, and fun activities for children.
July 24 Eddie Butts Band August 7 Christopher’s Project
August 21 Joe Richter Band
This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier.