Karis (CQ) Russell (right) a clinical nurse at Miami Valley Hospital’s Family Beginnings Birthing Center, demonstrates safe sleep techniques for Laura Craig of Jeffersonville who delivered her son Malachi Monday night. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell
Photo: Lisa Powell

$1.7M to help fight Montgomery County infant mortality

Nine Montgomery County projects aimed at reducing infant mortality will receive more than $1.7 million combined from the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

The community initiatives, which range from housing counseling to support groups for boyfriends and husbands, will deal with high-risk women who are pregnant in the county, where the infant mortality rate is 6.9 percent, according to Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County.

Montgomery ranked sixth among the state’s 88 counties in the number of infant deaths in 2014, according to in the Ohio Department of Health.

In that year, Montgomery County had 40 children die before their first birthday, trailing only Franklin (158), Cuyahoga (122), Hamilton (97), Lucas (53) and Summit (44) counties, according the ODH.

“Addressing infant mortality is the key long-term indicator for birth outcomes as well as for overall community health and well-being, according to Terra Williams, director of health promotion for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.

The county’s funding request focuses on the Birth Outcomes work plan goals established in the county Community Health Improvement Plan, she stated.

“This community partnership will take significant steps in reducing infant mortality in Montgomery County with emphasis on deceasing the black infant mortality rate in the target areas by 10 percent,” according to Williams.

While current data was not available the infant mortality rate among blacks in the county in recent years has been far higher, officials have said. Statewide, black babies are more than 2.5 times more likely to die than white babies, according to public health.

In Montgomery County, a program to increase home visits for pregnant women in targeted communities through partnerships will receive more than a third of the local funds. Five Rivers Health Centers, Help Me Grow Brighter Futures, Southview and the Wesley Community Center will divide $654,928.

Another $501,340 will go to extend the Five Rivers’ Healthy Start Program to all its patients and focus on the most high-risk communities while $216,400 will fund physician offices and social services agencies referring prenatal patients to housing counselors based on housing need assessments, according to public health.

Other area programs getting funds include: Catholic Social Services of Miami Valley; Samaritan Centers for Women’s Centering Pregnancy; and West Dayton Health Promotion Partnership.

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