INDIANAPOLIS — The effort to curb Indiana’s high infant mortality rate continues across the state.
Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana’s Nurse-Family Partnership helps low-income, pregnant mothers by arranging home visits from registered nurses.
During the pandemic, nurses like Emily Grayson have continued to help clients like Deja Pope virtually.
“I think it’s a really amazing testament that we’ve been able to form this relationship over the phone,” Grayson said.
Pope is a single mother to a one-year-old daughter. Grayson is her second nurse with the program.
Clients and nurses are paired up early in their pregnancy and continue their relationship until the child turns two-years-old.
“She’s help me a lot,” Pope said. “I think she does a lot more than what they probably tell her to but she’s amazing. She helps me of course with my daughter, any questions I have, but she helps me with any personal goals I have.”
The program has three major goals: Improve pregnancy outcomes and maternal health, improve child development and improve the self-sufficiency of the entire family.
“Usually around 90% of our babies are born full-term, 90% are born at a healthy birth weight, 90% initiate breast-feeding, and 90% reduce or quit smoking,” Lynn Baldwin, director of operations at Goodwill’s Nurse-Family Partnership said.
In October, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Indiana’s infant mortality rate fell to the lowest level in the state's recorded history. Preliminary data released by the Indiana State Department of Health shows it fell from 6.8 per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 6.5 in 2019.
In 2019, 527 babies in Indiana died before their first birthday, which is why leaders say programs like this are important and more work needs to be done.
“Infant mortality is one of the guiding health indicators.
“If your babies are dying then you have things to work on right,” Lynn said. “This program really does help to improve the lives of moms and babies and their families and to help reduce infant mortality is critical to the health of our entire community.”
In February, CareSource, a nationally recognized nonprofit health plan, announced a joint program with Goodwill’s Nurse-Family Partnership. CareSource has provided funding for the organization to hire a specially trained nurse to work with CareSource members enrolled in the program. A nurse will be added to help mothers in the southern counties of the state.
To qualify for Nurse-Family Partnership
• Be less than 28 weeks (7 months) pregnant
• Have no previous live births
• Be at 200% of the poverty level or below (equivalent to the Medicaid eligibility requirement)
• Live in one of the 30 Indiana counties where we currently offer services