The nation's leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health is joining forces with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to improve the health status of newborn babies.
The March of Dimes New York State Chapter has awarded a $44,865 grant to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center to support "Patient Education and Navigation for High-Risk Women," a program that fills an unmet maternal and child health need here and will help more babies be born healthy. This grant is one of many that the March of Dimes awards in pursuit of its mission to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.
The program is designed to:
•Decrease the number of pre-term births among participants by one-third.
•Increase the percentage of pregnant women entering prenatal care in their first trimester to 80 percent by next January.
•Educate pregnant women about risk factors to full-term birth, including the effects of cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug use on the unborn, HIV/AIDs, dental care and nutrition.
A key component of Memorial's Healthy Moms/Healthy Babies initiative, the program's primary beneficiaries will be women referred by the Niagara Falls Treatment Court, Niagara Falls Drug Court, and Niagara County Probation Department.
"This program will directly address problems related to infant mortality, birth defects, low birth weight and pre-term birth for high-risk women," said Memorial Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sheila Kee. "According to data from the Statewide Perinatal Data System for the City of Niagara Falls, 29 percent of pregnant women are not receiving early prenatal care, 14 percent of the babies born here are preterm deliveries, and 8.5 percent have low birth weights. Those numbers are appalling and must be addressed."
Women who are pregnant, between the ages of 18 and 45, or parenting children under the age of 3 will be referred by the three judicial programs to meet with a caseworker to discuss case management and patient navigation services. In addition to helping connect these women to a medical home, the caseworker will offer to accompany them to their medical appointments to provide emotional and advocacy support.
"The caseworker will help them navigate a world that can be both complex and intimidating to disadvantaged young women," Kee said.
The program will be administered through Memorial's Community Health Worker Program, a home-based program with substantial experience working with women with high-risk pregnancies.
With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
"We will use the March of Dimes grant to meet our objective of providing mothers with information and education," Kee said. "We are grateful to those volunteers who support the March of Dimes by participation in their events like March for Babies and who donate in other ways. That participation and those donations help make this grant possible."