Two new initiatives in Dayton region aim to save babies’ lives

Kayla Millikan is  one of the first Dayton-area moms enrolled in Moms2B, an initiative aimed at improving the health of low-income women and reducing infant mortality.
Kayla Millikan is one of the first Dayton-area moms enrolled in Moms2B, an initiative aimed at improving the health of low-income women and reducing infant mortality.

Data shows these programs have been successful in other Ohio cities

Two new initiatives aimed at helping moms and supporting healthy babies have rolled out in Dayton in recent months.

Both programs have been shown to improve health outcomes for moms and babies in other Ohio cities. The goal is to lower the region’s high infant mortality rates, especially that of Black and minority babies.

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The Pathways HUB

The Dayton Regional Pathways HUB managed by the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association began serving area parents at the end of last year.

The HUB contracts with existing community agencies and trains those agencies’ employees as community health workers. When a pregnant mom or parent enrolls, a community health worker does a full assessment of her needs and matches the woman with relevant assistance programs.

“So really, our community health worker isn’t replacing any of the resources in the community, but it’s just helping that mom navigate the system and then also making sure that once a connection is made, that she gets what she needs out of it,” said Lisa Henderson, vice president of health initiatives at the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

The HUB model connects parents with assistance in 21 categories, including adult education, employment, mental health, transportation, food security and housing.

There is peer-reviewed evidence that Pathway Community HUBs have worked elsewhere, including in Ohio.

A 2018 study by the Buckeye Health Plan of over 3,700 deliveries in the Toledo HUB service area found a 236% return on investment and 1.55 times less likelihood an infant would need special care nursery services.

The Community Health Access Project, a HUB in Mansfield serving multiple counties, demonstrated a 60% reduction in low birth weights and over $5 return for every $1 invested, according to research published in the Journal of Maternal and Child Health in 2015.

Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley is one of the care coordinating agencies partnering with the Dayton HUB.

“It’s important that all nonprofits change the way services are provided to be relevant as community needs change,” said Laura Roesch, CEO of Catholic Social Services.

Visit www.gdaha.org/hub to learn more and to download a referral form and client brochure.

Moms2B and Dads2B

After a decade of serving parents in the Columbus area, Moms2B and Dads2B began virtually enrolling Dayton area parents in late 2020.

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In Columbus, the group targets zip codes with the highest infant mortality rates by holding weekly education and support sessions in those communities for high-risk pregnant women, as well as fathers-to-be.

The Dayton branch plans to do the same once it is safe to meet in person. For now, Dayton-area parents are enrolling in virtual sessions held jointly with Columbus parents.

Health care professionals, including doctors, social workers, dietitians and lactation counselors work with the parents from pregnancy through the first year of a child’s life. Moms2B founder Dr. Patricia Temple Gabbe, a pediatrician at Ohio State University College of Medicine, said the program focuses on such topics as nutrition, stress reduction, breastfeeding, safe sleep practices, reproductive health and the importance of spacing out pregnancies.

Program employees also connect the parents with assistance programs for things like prenatal care, housing, transportation and employment.

The program has been successful in Columbus and seen a reduction in low birthweight babies and infant deaths, Gabbe said. In the first Columbus neighborhood Moms2B opened in, Weinland Park, there has been a fivefold decrease in the neighborhood’s infant mortality rate over the past decade.

Kayla Milikan, a pregnant 23-year-old living in an extended stay hotel in Centerville, is one of the first Dayton-area moms in Moms2B and would “1,000%” refer other moms to the program.

Moms2B staff helped Milikan find affordable housing that she and her family should be moving into in the next month. The group also helped her find assistance to pay for prescriptions, including glucose testing strips for her gestational diabetes.

She said having so many health care professionals available to answer her questions is a godsend, especially for a first-time mom like her.

For more information about the program, email Moms2B@osumc.edu or call 614-292-1605.

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