New grant, program to reduce infant mortality in Allen County

A new policy targets the infant mortality rate in Indiana.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Indiana has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country and the state is attempting to curb that with a new grant, which Parkview Health will be receiving.

The grant from the Indiana State Department of Health is giving Parkview Health funding from their Indiana Safety PIN (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) program. Parkview is one of seven hospital or health-care organizations to share the $11 million in funding. Parkview will get about $3.6 million of that to hire 12 community health workers who’s goal is to reduce infant death.

“Everybody wants to have healthy babies, but sometimes there are circumstances that hinder that and we as a community need to help with having that baby be healthy pregnancy and healthy baby,” said Parkview Health Senior Vice President of Women and Children Services Patti Brahe.

The Safety PIN program focuses on safer infant births, better prenatal care and less drug-oriented environments for infants.

Parkview Health reports that 41 babies died in Allen County in 2015. That’s a rate of 7.8 deaths for every 1,000 births. The rate for African Americans is 14, almost 2 times the average.

Also in the fight to reduce infant mortality in Allen County is Healthier Moms and Babies program, which has launched the Nurse Family Partnership. The program pairs personal nurses with first time mothers who live in poverty. The nurses guide the mother through prenatal care, her pregnancy, and the through the first two years of the infant’s life.

“They just need to have the support from somebody telling them that they are going to be okay, that they can be a good mom, that they are going to be a good mom when so many people might be telling them otherwise,” said Healthier Moms and Babies Director Paige Wilkins.

The program will receive $1 million per year for two years with the opportunity to renew the grant.

For more information call 260-469-4076 or go to http://www.healthiermomsandbabies.org.