Kendra Smith, our ministry’s vice president of community health, works collaboratively to address the social needs and social determinants of the health of our patients and the communities we serve. A big part of this work includes addressing infant and maternal health.
“We are actively working to improve maternal health disparities and infant mortality,” Kendra shares. “We are doing this by strengthening our internal partnerships to better align both clinical and community interventions to address maternal and infant health and combat disparities in maternal and infant mortality. We are also working to lead local, regional and statewide approaches to improving maternal health and birth outcomes, especially in priority racial, ethnic and economically underserved populations.”
Our community health team is bringing our most successful programs, outreach strategies and patient support to our other birthing centers. We are also educating new and expecting families and connecting them to resources that lead to healthy maternal and neonatal outcomes.
The Mercy Health programs across our ministry include:
- Centering Pregnancy in Youngstown, Ohio
- Resource Mothers in Lorain, Ohio
- New Beginnings, and Getting Healthy Zone Infant Mortality Support in Toledo, Ohio
- Cradle Cincinnati Partnership in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Our meal kit distribution program in Irvine, Ky.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Education in Paducah, Ky.
Each of these programs, led by our local community health directors and clinical partners, aims to reduce pregnancy-related mortality, support full-term healthy births and provide education on infant and maternal health.
“Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic that limited our ability to directly engage with moms and babies, the efforts of our community health teams and our local programming have continued to have an impact on improving maternal and infant health outcomes,” Kendra proudly shares. “For example, in 2020, our Getting Healthy Zone Infant Mortality program in Toledo reported an increase in full-term births for African American babies by 3.3 percent, which decreased low-birth weights for the same population by 7.5 percent.”
Additionally, in 2021, our Youngstown market’s motherhood and fatherhood support programs saw more than 115 new and soon-to-be-parents with health or social needs participate in programs, including 27 fathers. More than 70 babies were born to program participants that year.
Learn more about the mother and child health services we provide at Mercy Health.