Grant supports program providing bridge between medical & social needs to build healthier futures for children
Congressman Brian Higgins announced the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will receive $468,566 from the Federal Transit Administration to support "Go Buffalo Mom." The program will assist low-income, high-risk pregnant women in the City of Buffalo reach medical appointments and improve prenatal care.
"Nothing should keep an expecting mother from receiving health care, especially a lack of transportation options," Higgins said. "The 'Go Buffalo Mom' program will reduce barriers to care, improving health outcomes for both the mother and her child."
NFTA Executive Director Kimberley A. Minkel said, "NFTA-Metro is pleased to be able to play a role in providing needed transportation to medical services for mothers-to-be. Prenatal care is extremely important in making sure mom and baby are healthy and vaccinations are up-to-date during the pregnancy."
Go Buffalo Mom will match soon-to-be mothers with transportation navigators who will work with them to develop the least-expensive, most-reliable, and shortest public transportation routes to health care appointments through a series of meetings. The program also will provide a financial education and savings program to help clients manage expenses.
"At the United Way we believe that, in order for our community to continue to grow and prosper, we must first nurture those who will be around for years to come. 'Go Buffalo Mom' is a perfect example of an initiative that fulfills this mission," said Michael Weiner, president and CEO of United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. "We are thankful and excited for this funding and look forward to working with our partners, Belmont Housing Resources, Catholic Health System and Kaleida Health, to ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity for the highest possible quality of life."
Hal Morse, executive director of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council, said, "While working to save babies lives in the short-term, 'Go Buffalo Mom' is designed to build a long-term, lifeline to self-sufficiency through transportation independence and better money management for families."
The NFTA created the Go Buffalo Mom program in partnership with a group of members of the Healthy Start Healthy Future for All Coalition, an initiative of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and UBMD that includes the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council, health care organizations, medical providers, school and university organizations, government entities, human service organizations, faith-based partners and transportation experts from One Region Forward. Additionally, over 50 women who would potentially use the service were interviewed to provide individual feedback about their needs.
"Go Buffalo Mom" was chosen to receive funding through the FTA's pilot program for innovative coordinated access and mobility competition, known as "Rides to Wellness." The concept behind "Go Buffalo Mom" was developed through a Department of Housing and Urban Development sustainable communities initiative and a health care access mobility design challenge grant, also funded by the FTA.
Buffalo has an 11.4 percent pre-term birth rate, the highest of any major city in New York. Over 1,150 infants in Erie County are delivered pre-term annually. Higgins' camp said first-year medical costs associated with a pre-term birth are approximately $76,000, compared to $17,000 for a full-term birth. Therefore, $59,000 in direct medical expenses is saved for every pre-term birth that is averted.