The Pathways Program in our Toledo market proudly helps new mothers navigate their way to healthy outcomes for their babies.
Cindy Pisano, a licensed social worker and the Healthy Connections department supervisor, administers this program. She shares that there is a need for expectant mothers to be connected to services as well as information.
“Pathways offers care coordinators who provide support for at-risk expectant moms. They help them navigate the health care system, connect them with needed social services – such as housing, transportation, food and clothing – and help them prepare for their baby’s arrival.”
Ohio Department of Health data indicates that in 2020, the infant mortality rate fell to 6.7 from 6.9 in 2019 for all races. The rate among Black infants fell to 13.6 in 2020 from 14.3 in 2019. However, the Ohio and national goal is 6.0 or fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births in every racial and ethnic group.
Racial and socio-economic inequities still exist though, as Black infants die at a rate almost three times as that of white infants. This disparity is not fully explained by differences in maternal health factors. The cause is thought to be the conditions within our communities that may restrict access to needed resources or opportunities. This then creates increased risks that limit optimal wellness.
The Pathways Program is making headway, though!
Cindy shares that in 2022:
- 107 babies were born into the Pathways Program
- 90 percent of the babies were born full-term or greater than or equal to 37 weeks
- 82 percent of the babies born into the program were born at a healthy birth weight
One of the program’s success stories is a client named Janai.
When Janai enrolled in the Pathways Program, she was pregnant, homeless and living in a shelter. She reported feeling hopeless and all alone.
Our Pathways community health worker assured her that this wasn’t the case, that she would be there for her to help her get back on her feet. Together, they submitted an application for a Lucas County metropolitan housing voucher. The voucher came through quickly. However, it became apparent that getting housed would be a challenge since Janai had a previous eviction.
Our community health worker then connected Janai to legal assistance to get the eviction removed from her record. Janai soon gave birth to a healthy baby girl weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces. Two days later, she signed a lease for her new home.
Through the Pathways Program, Janai was assisted with furniture for her home. She also was connected to WIC (Women, Infant, Children) benefits as well as a food pantry in her neighborhood. Prior to delivering her baby, Janai was connected with Cribs for Kids so she could learn about safe sleep and get a Pack-n-Play so her baby would have a safe place to sleep. She received education on the benefits of breastfeeding as well.
“Janai sent our community health worker a note thanking her for all of the support she provided, stating she now feels hopeful about her future and her ability to care for her new baby,” Cindy adds. “This program is directly related to our ministry’s Mission of providing good help to the poor and underserved in our community. We address the social needs of our clients, along with toxic stress and barriers to care, in order to improve health and social outcomes for clients and their babies.”
“Since 2007, the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB has partnered with local agencies to create a clinical-community linkages system to reduce infant mortality and improve Black maternal health outcomes through care coordination services provided by community health workers (CHWs),” Amy Hurley, director of the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, wrote in a letter to the community. “For the past several years, Mercy Health has been an essential partner in the provision of health and social services within the Toledo and Lucas County area as a care coordination agency with the HUB.”
Amy continues, “Mercy Health CHWs working through the HUB provide care coordination to vulnerable communities, including high-risk Black women who are pregnant or maternal age, with connections to critical health and social services such as health coverage, medical homes, specialty care, housing and other community services and resources. In addition to providing these services to HUB clients, Mercy Health also maintains a presence at the Lucas County Job and Family Services Shared Services building, assisting community members and enrolling them into the HUB as needed. Furthermore, Mercy Health, in collaboration with Salem Lutheran Church, ProMedica Ebeid Center and the HUB, created the Getting Healthy Zone, a local place-based, multi-sector, community-driven initiative.”