Chair File: Outreach for Healthier Infants and Families

Focusing on community needs using a data-driven approach and local resources has improved care for expectant mothers and babies in western Michigan. More than 10 years ago, the black infant mortality rate in Kent County was 22.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, one of the highest rates in the state. To address the issue, Spectrum Health, based in Grand Rapids, collaborated with several key community organizations to establish Strong Beginnings, a program designed to improve maternal-fetal health. This community collaborative also includes the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Cherry Health (a FQHC), Arbor Circle, Family Futures, and the Kent County Health Department. Trained community health workers—some of them former program clients—work with nurses and social workers, offering a customized curriculum to county residents. Other community initiatives, like the Maternal Infant Health Program and Strong Fathers, provide outreach needed for healthier families. The county's infant mortality rate has decreased, and the number of women receiving prenatal care and postpartum exams has increased. Spectrum Health is a 2016 winner of the AHA Nova Award.

Focusing on community needs using a data-driven approach and local resources has improved care for expectant mothers and babies in western Michigan. More than 10 years ago, the black infant mortality rate in Kent County was 22.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, one of the highest rates in the state. To address the issue, Spectrum Health, based in Grand Rapids, collaborated with several key community organizations to establish Strong Beginnings, a program designed to improve maternal-fetal health. This community collaborative also includes the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Cherry Health (a FQHC), Arbor Circle, Family Futures, and the Kent County Health Department. Trained community health workers—some of them former program clients—work with nurses and social workers, offering a customized curriculum to county residents. Other community initiatives, like the Maternal Infant Health Program and Strong Fathers, provide outreach needed for healthier families. The county's infant mortality rate has decreased, and the number of women receiving prenatal care and postpartum exams has increased. Spectrum Health is a 2016 winner of the AHA Nova Award.

For further information, contact Ken Fawcett, M.D., vice president, Healthier Communities, at ken.fawcett@spectrumhealth.org. To read more about Spectrum Health and the other 2016 AHA NOVA Award winners, visit AHA.org.

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