Cigna, March of Dimes and TMC share A Common Thread

008Summertime in not usually when Tucsonans think about needing a knit-cap…unless they are a preemie.

This summer, thousands of cute knit-caps are available for preemies thanks to Cigna volunteers, who donated the caps to TMC during national volunteer week.

In April, Cigna volunteers traveled from Phoenix to deliver nearly 3,000 knit caps for NICU babies at Tucson Medical Center.

The community service project is called A Common Thread, and was founded by Cigna employees as part of Cigna’s national sponsorship of the March of Dimes.

The caps provide warmth for babies, which is particularly important for infants facing serious health challenges. Crocheted in many sizes, the caps can accommodate both premature and full-term babies. In addition, families enjoy the different styles and colors that give the newborns individuality.

014“We are most proud of this project,” said Jessica Celentano, executive director of market development at the Southern Arizona March of Dimes. “Each hat takes about 20 minutes to knit – that’s more than 900 volunteer hours to provide a needed and heartfelt service for families in our region.”

Cigna has been a partner of the March of Dimes and a national sponsor of March for Babies for the past 23 years. Since A Common Thread was founded, more than 12,000 baby hats have been donated to NICUs throughout the country and more than 8,500 have been donated in Arizona.

“It is a priority for Cigna and our employees to meaningfully contribute to local communities,” said Dr. Isaac Martinez, medical director of Cigna HealthCare. He joined Cigna employees Pamela Martin and Theresa Richards to deliver the 2,700+ caps to TMC. “Thanks to the many Cigna volunteers, like Pamela and Theresa, we’re honored to make this contribution to TMC.”

002Celentano, Martin, Richards and Dr. Martinez carried countless blue satchels filled with the donated caps through TMC’s Joel M. Childers Women’s Center. Pat Brown, TMC director of women’s and children’s services, thanked them for the unique caps and their community service.

“We are so thankful for their time and effort,” Brown said. “These caps are wonderful gifts for the babies and their families – and there is enough to last us for years.”

The NICU at TMC treats about 500 infants in the NICU each year, and more than 5,000 babies are born annually at TMC’s labor and delivery department – one of the busiest in the state.  A perfect fit for the sizeable donation.

Learn more about Cigna’s community support efforts like A Common Thread, on their Facebook page or on Twitter @Cigna or #CignaAZ. The March of Dimes website can provide more information about their efforts to help infants and families.



Arizona scores well on March of Dimes Premature Birth “report card”

heroThe March of Dimes recently released its 2015 Premature Birth Report Card, giving Arizona a “B” grade with a preterm birth rate of 9 percent. The grades are assigned by comparing a state’s 2014 preterm birth rate to the March of Dimes goal of 8.1 percent by 2020. A preterm birth occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy.

There are some things women can do to lower their risk of having a premature baby including:

▪ quit smoking
▪ avoid alcohol and drugs
▪ see your health care provider for a checkup before pregnancy
▪ maintain a healthy weight
▪ work with your health care provider to control diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes
▪ get prenatal care early

The state report cards are part of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, which aims to reduce preterm birth rates across the United States. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared November Prematurity Awareness Month to highlight the importance of helping expectant moms with a successful delivery.

In a blog post about the report card, Arizona Department of Health Services Director, Cara M. Christ, points out that according to Arizona Vital Statistics, one out of every 11 Arizona babies was born prematurely in 2014. ADHS has several programs to encourage healthy behaviors leading up to and during pregnancy.

  • Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait – initiative to reduce premature births in Arizona.
  • Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN)– a national effort to improve infant mortality. Arizona supports two CoIIN initiatives: preconception health and safe sleep to reduce infant mortality.
  • Strong Families Arizona – a multi-agency system of home visiting programs for pregnant women and families with young children.
  • WIC – provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to health and social services.
  • ASHLine – supports pregnant women in their efforts to stop smoking.
  • Federally qualified health care centers – Arizona has more than 150 federally qualified health care centers that can assist pregnant women with comprehensive primary care including dental, mental health and other services.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461