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New Funding Aimed At Continuing To Reduce Ohio Infant Mortality

In 2018, Nurse Elaine Patrick packs child-development and other educational materials into the back of her car. The Help Me Grow Brighter Futures visiting nurse program is just one of the programs to benefit from new state funding.
Jess Mador
In 2018, Nurse Elaine Patrick packs child-development and other educational materials into the back of her car. The Help Me Grow Brighter Futures visiting nurse program is just one of the programs to benefit from new state funding.

Montgomery County health officials are welcoming an influx of funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid. The money is part of an effort to combat high rates of infant mortality around the state.

More than $3 million was granted to Montgomery County’s EveryOne Reach One Infant Mortality Task Force, and will go to half a dozen Montgomery County groups to help reduce the number of infant deaths.

More than four dozen babies died before their first birthday in Montgomery County last year.

While the county’s infant mortality rate is down over the previous two years, around seven babies per 1000 live births died in infancy. Dayton and Montgomery County are among nine municipalities and counties that have the highest infant mortality rates in the state.

Maleka James, supervisor for the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health at Public Health, Montgomery County, says to bring death rates down, it’s important to connect women and infants to quality health care and care management.

“We understand that infant mortality is critical, and it is the barometer that really gages the overall health and well-being of our community,” she says. “And so, with this funding, it really includes investments in four key areas, which include community health workers, home visiting, centering pregnancy and community-based interventions.”

James says premature births remain the leading cause of infant death in Montgomery County. Birth defects, and safe sleep practices are also factors.

Officials say a disparity of infant deaths, with Black babies dying at a rate 2x more than white babies, remains, but rates for both are trending down.

The following information was provided by Montgomery County:       

Through the EveryOne Reach One Infant Mortality Task Force, Ohio Medicaid has awarded funding to support the following projects:

Community Health Workers:

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County’s Neighborhood Navigators

Neighborhood Navigators will facilitate access to services and act as liaisons between health and social services and the community to reduce disparities and birth outcomes.  During this grant period, the Neighborhood Navigators will identify and engaged over 400 at-risk women within priority areas outlined in Montgomery County’s CHIP (45402, 45405, 45406, 45414, 45415, 45417, and 45426).

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County’s Every Parent Matters: Every Parent Matters is a home visiting program that encourages fathers’ participation by offering separate home visits as well as joint home visits with the mothers; assigning home visitors (male Community Health Worker) who best fit the father’s needs; and tailoring the content of activities to be hands-on and specific to the father’s needs.

Five Rivers Health Centers: Community Health Workers/Doulas will provide a one-on-one partnership with African-American women to help them through their pregnancy, be a resource after they deliver, and help to empower them to achieve their goals for themselves and their children.

Catholic Social Services of Miami Valley:  The Family Wellness Community Health Worker Project at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley team will work collaboratively with partner agencies to identify gaps in services and create stronger links to identify pregnant women earlier in pregnancy, provide information on available prenatal health care, encourage scheduled appointments with prenatal providers in the first trimester, engage African American women in prenatal and postnatal home visits and supports, and increase the availability of resources to reduce the barriers created by the social determinants of health.

Home Visiting:

Help Me Grow Brighter Futures:  Help Me Grow Brighter Futures (HMGBF) will continue the implementation of the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) and the Healthy Families America (HFA) home visiting programs in Montgomery County as a collaboration. Home visits will continue to include evidenced based NFP and HFA curriculums.

Wesley Community Center: The Wesley Community Center Infant Mortality Program will utilize a Community Health Worker program model to provide new and expectant African American women with information, support, and referrals to community resources and services, promote good maternal and child health, home safety, food security, and positive parenting.


Five Rivers Health Centers: With the development of CenteringPregnancy® group prenatal care, pregnant women are now able to receive prenatal care in groups as well as attend childbirth education classes.

Community Based Intervention:

Five Rivers Health Centers: Five Rivers Health Centers will be training Community Health Workers to be Doulas. A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.

Miami Valley Organizing Collaborative: Community Hope Project (CHP) is a program in which faith-based organizations will use their influence to improve the community’s health. The goal is to establish health ministries that would include infant mortality reduction as a primary focus.  Congregants will be recruited to participate in a Peer Health Leadership training program to become Health Ambassadors.

Wesley Community Center:  The Wesley Community Center will provide a neighborhood African American women-led peer support group for mental health.  Wesley Community Center will partner with schools of Professional Psychology and Medicine at local colleges and universities.

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Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.