State gives $1.88M for babies
YOUNGSTOWN — Nearly $2 million in state funding is helping the Mahoning County Public Health District create a more coordinated response to the above-average black infant mortality rate.
In 2017, black babies born in Mahoning County were three times more likely than white babies here to die before their first birthday, according to the health department.
The $1.88 million spread over two years is expected to make it easier for multi-departmental service coordination so fewer families fall through the cracks, said Patricia Sweeney, health commissioner.
“In the past, we tried to work on these issues, but separately. Now this funding requires coordination and requires team meetings to address specific barriers for specific people,” Sweeney said.
By addressing the issues collectively, families are expected to have better outcomes, Sweeney said.
“Mahoning County is very pleased to receive funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Medicaid Managed Care plans to help this community reduce African American infant mortality. This funding will enable us to coordinate our work across community agencies to reach more women in need of services to support a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” Sweeney said in a statement.
The funding will be used to coordinate and publicize all levels of services available to pregnant women in Mahoning County. Programs included in the collaboration are: Mercy Health Centering Pregnancy Program, Nurse Family Partnership, the Mahoning Valley Pathways HUB, and Help Me Grow along with a number of Community Health Worker programs provided by Mercy Health Resource Mothers, Youngstown City Health District, Mahoning County Public Health, Alta Healthcare and Akron Children’s Hospital. Additionally legal services for at-risk pregnant women will be provided through a partnership with Northeast Ohio Community Legal Aid.
The board of health Wednesday appropriated some of the money.
For the “More First Birthdays” two-year program, Community Legal Aid is receiving $44,135; Youngstown City Health District, $133,111; Alta Care Group is receiving $174,315; Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, $219,144; Mercy Health’s pregnancy program, $331.435; Mercy Health’s mothers resources program, $251,909; and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center, $308,788.