Guilford programs focus on prenatal care

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 06:56 PM

 While awaiting the next state report on infant mortality, local health officials launched an awareness campaign this month and a new prenatal program for mothers.
The Guilford County Coalition on Infant Mortality partnered with the Guilford County Health Department, March of Dimes, Nurse Family Partnership, and the Children’s Home Society for the awareness campaign. Infant mortality awareness messages will be on television and two Greensboro billboards with the message “Every Child deserves a First Birthday.”
Infant mortality is the death of a live child before his or her first birthday. Guilford’s 2011 mortality rate was 7.4 per thousand population with 45 infant deaths. The 2010 total was 57. For Davidson County, it was 5.2 in 2011 with nine infant deaths, and for Randolph County the rate was 3.8 with six infant deaths.
“Infant mortality is a complex and continuing problem that strikes all types of families at any income level, and stems from a variety of health and societal ills,” said Guilford County Health Director Merle Green. “In 1988, North Carolina was ranked the worst state in the nation for infant mortality, and we have worked hard over the years to improve birth outcomes.” 
The state rate was 12.6 infant deaths per 1,000 population in 1988. The 2010 rate was seven. North Carolina was tied with Oklahoma for 44th among the states  in 2010.
The coalition aims at eliminating infant mortality and morbidity through community education and involvement for women who may not have access to prenatal care without the program. 
“We stand true in this mission to make a difference for all families, as one baby’s death is too many” said Charmaine Purdum, coalition coordinator.  “Thanks to our wonderful community partners, over 5,000 women have received prenatal care through this program with healthy birth outcomes that exceed that of the state and nation.”
The health agency also has started a new CenteringPregnancy prenatal program at maternity clinics. The program includes a health assessment, education and support in a group setting with two co-facilitators meeting  about 10 times with mothers during their pregnancies. Each session lasts for approximately two hours. One of the facilitators is a clinician, a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, and the other is a nurse or childbirth educator.
The groups have been shown to help decrease pre-term birth and low birth weights, make cost-effective use of provider time, increase motivation for patients to learn and change, promote patient and provider trust and understanding, and help facilitate patient and provider satisfaction.
After the health assessment, the women and the group leaders sit together in a circle and discuss their pregnancies to support each other in making changes from unhealthy to healthy habits.

Healthy Moms
CenteringPregnancy:  Appointments are currently available at the Guilford County Department of Public Health.  Call Judy Southern at (336) 641-3712 or Catherine Richardson at (336) 641-4718. Go to www.centeringhealthcare.org.

Information:  Contact Guilford County Department of Public Health at 641-7777.