We now have the second highest infant mortality rate among the urban counties in Florida at 7.2 deaths per 1000 births. Imagine 110 first birthday celebrations not being held last year or 6 kindergarten classrooms sitting empty. What's also alarming is that 69 of those non-birthdays belonged to African-American families. Our Black babies died at 4 times the rate (15.5) of White babies (3.8) last year in our county. As a medical community, we can do more to lower this poor outcome - and it begins with your support of Healthy Start.
· As an OB, make sure EVERY prenatal patient, i.e. 100%, in your practice receives a Healthy Start risk screen. Any woman can be at risk of a poor outcome and Healthy Start's professional nurses and counselors can offer evidenced-based services that complement your clinical prenatal care. Also, it's the law that you complete a Healthy Start risk screen for every pregnant woman at her first prenatal visit. (FL Statute 383.14)
· As a pediatrician or family practice physician, refer any infant you have concerns about to Healthy Start.
· Dispel the myth that women and infants who need Healthy Start services are only poor, minority or Medicaid patients. Infant mortality affects every demographic and Healthy Start services are available to any patient.
· Ensure your staff understands the importance of this risk screen as a tool in the assessment of the woman's overall health status. Healthy Start staff can offer training on this screening form as well as how their program services can support your patient's care.
· Contact the Healthy Start Coalition for more information about their services at 407-228-1478.
Florida is the only state in the US with a universal risk screen and targeted services available to every woman and infant in every county. Make sure it works for your patients and help eliminate Orange County's infant mortality crisis.
A representative of Healthy Start will be at the OCMS Annual Meeting on January 22.
Dr. Thomas Prince, President
Orange County Medical Society