In 2017, 29 infants died before their fist birthday in the Wabash Valley.
“The last statistics had 29 babies dying. And about 2/3 were deemed avoidable as in if the right resources were provided at the right time,” said Hicham Rahmouni, Executive Director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health. “Sadly they should have been avoided.”
These resources being access to pre and post-natal care, health insurance, education and community support.
With a 4.5 million dollar grant from Healthy Start, Union Health is working with community organizations to bring down infant mortality numbers.
“Making sure that our resources are in the community so that they have transportation to the appointments they need to go to,” said Dr. Jackie Holder, pediatrician and Medical Director for Union Medical Group. “That they have the funding or support to get the nutrition or the medical equipment. Making sure that their doctor is enforcing the importance of it.”
This grant focuses on three counties in the Wabash Valley with high IMR, Parke, Fountain and Vigo County.
In 2016, Vigo County had seven infant deaths for the year, this in comparison to seven being the average number across the state of Indiana per 1,000 live births.
“When we look at Vermillion and Parke county and even Fountain county, there’s not many providers out there that the mother’s can go to,” said CEO of Valley Professionals TJ Warren.
Many mothers in rural areas have to drive almost an hour to receive care.
This program would create clinics in rural areas which would increase pre and post-natal care access to mothers.
“We can provide ultra sound services for them which is always kinda neat when they get to see the baby and say okay this is where we’re out,” said Warren. “We’ll guide them all steps of the way and then we’ll also deliver the baby at the very end too.”
There is a large focus on mother and baby before birth in the Wabash Valley, but bringing down the IMR means professionals and community organizations need to shift their focus to more resources after birth.
“What we didn’t have was from birth to, really true birth through 18 months is what we’re going to focus on,” said Dr. Holder. “So we’ll be able to keep those kids in that loop, the families in those loops. And I suppose that’s the way to properly put it. It’s the families that they’re getting the support that they need.”