Middletown hospital launches program to combat infant mortality

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Atrium medical center introduces a new centering pregnancy program in effort to lower infant mortality rates

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A new program at a Middletown hospital is designed to provide care for the highest risk pregnant women in the area in the hopes more babies will reach their first birthday.

The program, called CenteringPregnancy, is a partnership among Atrium Medical Center, the Butler County Partnership to Reduce Infant Mortality (PRIM), and the Ohio Department of Medicaid aimed at addressing the county’s high infant mortality rate.

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Butler County’s infant mortality rate is 8.47 per 1,000 live births, while Ohio’s statewide infant mortality rate is 7.72 per 1,000 live births, according to Butler County Health Commissioner Jenny Bailer.

While infant mortality has been decreasing overall in Ohio since 1990, both Butler County’s and Ohio’s rates are above the Healthy People 2020 national goal of 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

“Black babies in Butler County are dying before the age of 1 at twice the rate and in some cases three times the rate of white babies,” Bailer said. “We want our babies, no matter what race, to be healthy and make it beyond their first birthday.”

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CenteringPregnancy will bring as many as 10 women pregnant women together for prenatal care as they will have 10 scheduled visits lasting 90 minutes.

The centering group healthcare model combines health assessment, interactive learning and community building to deliver better health outcomes and a better care experience for patients and their providers.

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Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before his or her first birthday. The infant mortality rate is the number of babies who died in the first year of life, per 1,000 live births. This rate is considered an important indicator of the overall health of a society.

Source: Ohio Department of Health

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“The one and only goal is a healthy mom and a healthy baby,” said Dr. Rhonda Washington, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Atrium Medical Center and medical director of CenteringPregnancy.

The effort, she added, will be a vital tool in the fight against infant mortality in Middletown, which has contributed to Butler County’s poor ranking statewide.

“With the launch of CenteringPregnancy, Atrium Medical Center is expanding its services to meet the variety of needs of expecting mothers in Butler County. Atrium offers comprehensive maternity services including group meetings for women before they deliver, birth and family education, and natural birth services at Greater Cincinnati’s only natural birth center,” Washington said.

MORE: Butler County receives funding to combat infant mortality

Jackie Phillips, Middletown’s health commissioner, said this is a “positive step forward that will help combat the issue of infant mortality in the city.”

Last year, Butler County received funding from the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Medicaid to implement centering programs in Butler County.

Atrium Medical Center was chosen as a site for the centering program in Middletown, and in addition to receiving state funds through Butler County, the hospital also received funding from the Middletown Community Foundation and Atrium Medical Center Foundation.

The foundation funds went to help cover the cost for some renovations to the meeting space for the women, as well as furniture and supplies at the hospital’s Maternal Child Health Center.

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