The March of Dimes Florida Chapter awarded a $3,000 community grant to the Jacksonville Birthing Project, a Coalition initiative, for the program’s second annual baby shower.
The baby shower is an annual event that includes food, games, raffles and a “Wishing Well.” Attendees do not have to be Birthing Project participants, just women with a child or children from 0-2 years old.
The Jacksonville Birthing Project is a mentoring program for women during pregnancy and for one year after the birth of their children. It is part of the national program, Birthing Project USA, which is the only national African American maternal and child health program in the country.
Volunteers and mentors give friendship, guidance, and support to an expectant mother in need both during and after pregnancy. This includes helping her find a doctor, find and use community resources and make plans for herself and her baby.
Each year, the March of Dimes awards community grants of $3,000 or less to help pursue the mission of preventing birth defects and infant mortality.
Provisional state data on births and deaths show another decrease in infant mortality in Northeast Florida for 2010. Between January-December 2010 the region had an infant mortality rate of 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 7.9 deaths per 1,000 in the previous year.
Although disparities continued to persist in the region, the gap between birth outcomes among whites and non-whites narrowed slightly in 2010. The infant mortality rate for non-whites was 10.4 deaths per 1,000 live births; for whites, the infant death rate was 5.6 deaths/1,000.
Baker County had the highest infant mortality rate in 2010 in the region, 11.5 deaths per 1,000. Clay County posted the lowest provisional rate, 3.5 deaths per 1,000. Infant deaths rates continued to improve in Duval overall and for all races.
Provisional state data includes births and deaths to residents that occur in Florida. Final rates may change when out-of-state births and deaths are included.
The Shands Jacksonville Eastside Family Practice Center was rededicated as the Elizabeth G. Means Community Health Center May 10 in honor of the long-time advocate and vice-president for community affairs at the hospital.
The center was among the first primary care sites established under her leadership to serve low-income residents in Jacksonville. Mrs. Means died in January 2011 after a 40-year career in health care.
“Being poor doesn’t mean being of no value,” she said in an interview. “To me, to show these people that they have dignity, respect, self-worth and value is to be able to provide service to them as they need it and where they are.”
Mrs. Means was a past member of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition and participated on the original planning team for the Magnolia Project, a federally-funded initiative to address disparities in the city’s infant mortality rate.
The clinic, located at 1155 East 21st Street, provides primary, prenatal and pediatric care to residents on the city’s eastside.
The 2011-2012 budget passed by the Florida Legislature included a $5.4 million cut in funding for the state Healthy Start program. The last minute reduction was made during final negotiations by the House and Senate Appropriations chairs to bring their respective health & human services budgets into alignment. The cut will eliminate services for more than 20,000 at-risk pregnant women and families statewide.
The impact of the cut on families and Healthy Start agencies in Northeast Florida is yet to be determined. State funding for the program is used as match for federal dollars, meaning additional resources will be lost at the local level. The Florida Department of Health is working to finalize allocations based on the budget adopted by lawmakers.
In other Legislative action, Healthy Start and the MomCare program were included in the final Medicaid reform bill passed early Saturday morning. This preserves Medicaid waiver funding and gives the Healthy Start program an expanded role in ensuring pregnant women have access to the services they need as responsibility for their care is shifted to managed care organizations. The state’s Medicaid Reform proposal still needs to be approved by the federal government and most experts anticipate a lengthy review process prior to implementation.
Northeast Florida Counts by the numbers: 175+ indicators; 30 sponsors and partners; and 1 central Web site.
The Web site, which launched May 6, features a community dashboard with indicators for Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. Johns and Volusia counties. The site is intended to be used as a one-stop shop for marketing professionals, community-based organizations, educators, academic professionals, economic development organizations, transportation planners, policy makers and funding agencies.
Topic centers include health, environment, economy, social environment, transportation, public safety, government and politics and education. In addition to the data, there is a section of over 1,500 promising practices.
The Web site is an iniative of the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida. It is part of the Healthy Communities Network, a community indicator platform developed at the University of California-Berkeley.