August 2017 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

August, 2017

Partners in Infectious Disease Outbreak Response

The Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division (IDEPC) has been busy this spring and summer fighting to control multiple disease outbreaks. Most notably, measles and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). In both cases, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) has provided important information to IDEPC to target the response efforts. Although measles can be deadly, there have been no measles deaths during this outbreak. IDEPC is still reviewing tuberculosis death data for 2016 and the outbreak.

Before the measles outbreak, IDEPC’s Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) utilized data from OVR to pinpoint specific populations at risk to vaccine-preventable disease. Looking at birth records and immunization data, IDEPC identified the declining rate of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine among Somali Minnesotans. This work put us one step ahead of an outbreak that could have been much worse. As the outbreak winds down, MIIC will be using this data once again to see if the outbreak prevention and control measures implemented had an effect on MMR vaccine rates in this population.

The MDR-TB response has utilized OVR data on the other end of the spectrum. This outbreak is primarily affecting the aging Hmong population that were exposed to MDR-TB in refugee camps many years ago. As the contact investigation takes place, IDEPC’s tuberculosis prevention and control program has turned to OVR for death record data when unable to locate a possible contact. Having access to this data is essential to the efficiency of the response.

These programs will continue to work together to find at-risk populations and make efficient use of other vital records birth and death data and the state’s data and resources to protect and maintain the health of all Minnesotans.

More information about the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control (IDEPC) Division is on the MDH website.

Staffing Changes for Vital Records and Vital Statistics

Like many of your organizations, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is experiencing changes in the workforce. In the past month, exciting staffing changes affected vital records and vital statistics.

Within the Office of Vital Records (OVR), Heidi Granlund moved from the Deputy State Registrar role to a new position, Application and Records Improvement Specialist. Heidi will spend much of her time focusing on the MR&C System. Her new position will provide leadership, analysis, consultation, and oversight of the electronic applications that support Minnesota’s statewide vital records activities and the Minnesota Father’s Adoption Registry. She will be involved in efforts related to continuous quality and process improvement including automation. The role and responsibilities of the Deputy State Registrar are in review; the vacancy will be posted soon. Contact the OVR Help Desk at 651-201-5970 or for any questions you would have asked the Deputy State Registrar.   

OVR also hired Tammy Tricas as a Customer Service Specialist Senior in the Issuance Unit. Her front-line vital records experience in Pine County is valuable. Tammy’s knowledge of the Minnesota vital records system and the MR&C application is helping to shorten OVR’s processing time for customer service requests.

The Minnesota Center for Health Statistics has recently brought on new staff to assist the Centers for Health Equity and Community Health in their ongoing mission to promote health equity and eliminate health disparities. These new staff will be working collaboratively with OVR to improve data collection and meet the demand for both real-time and statistical data.

Dan Fernandez-Baca will serve as the new Director for the center, and Pamela Jo Johnson will serve as the center’s new Research Scientist in charge of vital records. The relationship between the Office of Vital Records and the Center for Health Statistics is an important cornerstone in providing the public with information on county level data, longitudinal trends, and interactive queries on vital statistics. Dan comes to MDH most recently from Florida where he served as the assistant director for the Texas Medicaid External Quality Review Organization at the University of Florida. Pamela Jo comes to MDH with over 20 years of extensive research experience, and was most recently working at the University of Minnesota at the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Division of Epidemiology & Community Health in the School of Public Health.  Questions regarding vital statistics can be directed to Pamela Jo at or at (651) 201-5944.

New Parentage Video


Last week the Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Health released a new paternity video called “Establishing Parentage – What Every Mother and Father Need to Know”.

New, unmarried parents will watch the parentage video at the hospital after the birth of their child, or later, at a county child support agency. The video helps unmarried parents decide if they want to establish paternity by signing the Recognition of Parentage form, or by adjudicating paternity through the court.

Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Support Division staff consulted multiple stakeholders, including Minnesota Fathers and Families Network, hospital staff, county child support staff and the Domestic Abuse Project. The stakeholder feedback helped to prepare the script for the video.

“I appreciate the simplicity of the new video,” said Joe Johnson, board member of the Minnesota Fathers and Families Network. “It repeats several points, especially about not signing the Recognition of Parentage if you don’t feel comfortable.”

Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Autumn Nelson said, “I like how the updated video explains the different options available to new parents in a way that is easy to understand.”

The new video is available in three languages, is less than eight minutes long, and replaces the “Power of Two” video produced by the federal government nearly 17 years ago. The Establishing Parentage – What Every Mother and Father Need to Know video (English version) is on the Minnesota Department of Human Services Recognition of Parentage web page. Department of Human Services, Child Support Division staff will start distributing DVD copies of the video (containing three languages) to the hospitals and county child support offices in the next few weeks.

Please contact Kristi Phetdara at or 651-431-4435, at the Minnesota Department of Human Services if you have any questions.

Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C)


Paper Cut(off) Date

Effective October 1, 2017, OVR will not enter cause of death information from faxed worksheets.

Medical certifiers are expected to become users of MR&C and:

  1. Enter cause and manner of death data directly into MR&C, or
  2. Designate staff to enter the cause and manner of death information that the medical certifier has provided.

How ‘bout them Twins?!?

No, this is not an article about baseball – we are talking about actual twins, triplets and other multiple birth records. The Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) system has a built-in timesaver for entering birth records for multiple births from a single pregnancy.

Simply enter one of the birth records in the usual way, making sure to enter the type of multiple (twin, triplet, etc.) and the birth order. Then, after saving or filing the first record select “Create multiple birth records” from the follow-on action menu on the Finalize Filing page of the existing record. A new record with pre-populated parent and maternal health data will appear, ready for information specific to the next baby. Using this follow-on action saves time for the hospital birth registrar and electronically links the multiple birth records, making it easier for public health twin studies. This action works for live births, stillbirths or a combination.

Multiple births can also make reporting maternal previous pregnancy information confusing. Remember: every baby counts. This means the first-born baby of this delivery is included when you are entering the second or third born baby, and, if the mother has given birth to twins before, include both of those babies in the number reported.


Guide to Completing the Facility Worksheets for the Certificate of Live Birth and Report of Fetal Death

Attachment to the Facility Worksheet for the Live Birth Certificate for Multiple Births

Specificity is Better than "Other"

Choosing “Other” in the city field when registering vital events in MR&C seems to have become a common data entry practice in some facilities. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), “Other” is coded the same as an unknown answer. "Other" creates a quality issue for Minnesota birth, death and fetal death records when the precise information could be picked from MR&C dropdown lists.

The best practice is to use the dropdown lists available throughout Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) to select a specific city rather than “Other” or “Unknown”. Using the dropdown lists improves data quality and accuracy when registering vital events. When a data field has a dropdown list, there is an arrow to the right of the data field in MR&C. In a city field, typing in the first few letters of the city name narrows the list. Selecting the city name by clicking on it (or pressing the Tab key) will enter the city name in the city field.

Make it a best practice – use dropdown lists available in MR&C to register Minnesota vital events!

To contact the Office of Vital Records click below: