Members in Action Case Study: Reducing Infant Mortality: Maternal and Infant Outreach

Parkview Health | Fort Wayne, Ind.


Founded in 1878 as City Hospital, Parkview Hospital is one of the oldest – and only remaining – nonprofit hospitals in northeast Indiana. Over the years, Parkview has grown from a single hospital in Fort Wayne to a system of hospitals and other medical facilities in several counties in Indiana, with physician offices throughout northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, serving a population of more than 875,000. Parkview has a long history of community engagement based on reaching out and collaborating with community leaders and nonprofit agencies to deliver services, increase access, and address the social determinants of health.

The Maternal and Infant Outreach initiative is offered in partnership with multiple social services agencies aimed at reducing infant mortality by providing resources to expectant and new mothers, including Healthy Families, Associated Churches, A Hope Pregnancy Center, Beds and Britches, Etc., SCAN, and the Neighborhood Health Clinic. Programs include:

  • CenteringPregnancy® (CP): Established in 2014, this program serves up to 120 women per year and provides low-income women with a culturally appropriate centering model of prenatal care. The program includes health assessments, group support, and educational seminars aimed at reducing premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Breastfeeding Program: Implemented in 2015, this program provides certified lactation specialists and breastfeeding support groups for pregnant and nursing moms to encourage and support the decision to breastfeed. The program serves approximately 200 women per year with home visits and support groups.
  • Safe Sleep Program: Implemented in 2009, this program provides safe sleep education to new parents and caregivers, as well as a free portable crib to those who otherwise would not have a safe bed for their baby. Recently, Parkview partnered with Three Rivers Ambulance Authority to teach first responders how to recognize if there is an infant in the home and provide education on safe sleep. The program serves approximately 400 families per year with group and individual education.
  • Period of PURPLE Crying: Established in 2014, this outreach program serves more than 5,000 families per year and teaches parents and caregivers about the normal patterns of infant crying, the dangers of shaking an infant, and strategies to soothe a crying infant to reduce the incidence of shaken baby syndrome/abusive head trauma and infant physical abuse. Most recently, program leaders have been able to extend its reach with more community presentations, particularly focusing on men and adolescent boys, as those family members are usually not participants in the prenatal medical care process.
  • Community Health Worker Program: This is Parkview’s newest Maternal and Infant Outreach initiative, offered in conjunction with the Indiana State Department of Health. In this program, community health workers (CHWs) visit the homes of new and expectant mothers to assess their needs and help them access resources they may need. One way the workers have been able to encourage parents and caregivers to schedule a visit is through the Safe Sleep classes.

“Most of these programs overlap,” says Erin Norton, R.N., director of community outreach for the women’s & children’s service line. “Parkview’s community nurses teach Safe Sleep classes, and a community health worker is there to assist and connect with families. At the conclusion of the class, the families schedule a time with the CHW for a home visit and crib delivery. At this visit, the CHW reinforces the education, ensures that the crib is set up in a safe place, and also assesses if the family has additional concerns, such as food insecurity.”

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