In response to high county-level infant mortality rates, the Coalition created Task Forces to find ways to decrease the infant mortality rate and educate the public on the matter. The Task Forces include representatives from the community, social services, health facilities, churches and many other organizations in the county. Task Force members provide coordinated community outreach to increase awareness about the effects of domestic violence, smoking, prenatal care and baby spacing on mothers’ and babies’ health.
St. Johns County Infant Mortality Task Force
The St. Johns Infant Mortality Task Force was formed in March 2006 in response to the higher rate of babies dying in St. Johns County, particularly for non-white babies.
Highlights from the Task Force include:
The WILDFlower Clinic
The Westside WILDFlower Clinic opened in April 2007, borne out of collaboration between Task Force agencies. Originally the clinic was based out of New Mt. Moriah Christian Ministry and offered health education and links to additional resources in the community. With initial funding from the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, the St. Johns County Health Department and Good Samaritan Health Centers partnered to develop and implement an enhanced preconception care community outreach and educational model focusing on at-risk women of childbearing age in the West Augustine area. The clinic was adapted from the Magnolia Project, a preconception initiative in Jacksonville.
Good Samaritan took over the reigns when funding ended. A new building officially opened in January 2010 across from New Mt. Moriah Christian Ministry under the name The Wildflower Clinic with new expanded services. Dental and medical services will be available, staffed with a full-time dental hygienist, a part-time nurse and numerous dentists who committed to volunteer time. The focus of the clinic changed from preconception care to “Healthy Lifestyles,” but will still identify high-risk women and make appropriate referrals.
ABC (Assuring Best Care) Clinic
The St. Johns County Health Department’s ABC Clinic is free, open to any woman and offers public health nurses who counsel pregnant women regarding resources and assistance that may be available. When women come into the health department for a pregnancy test, a nurse meets with them regardless of the outcome of the test. Each woman is assigned to one of three levels, A, B, or C. A is for the lowest risk women and C is for the highest risk women and determines the frequency of contact. Services provided include HIV testing, syphilis testing, prenatal vitamins, referrals to Healthy Start and WIC, links to providers and transportation and immediate assistance with the Medicaid for Pregnancy application.
Task Force Agency Highlights
- SJCHD and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Northeast Florida distributed more than 100 cribs and Project Moses bassinets to needy families. The Healthy Families — St. Johns program now handles distribution of Pack-n-Plays through the Cribs for Kids program.
- Flagler Hospital’s Maternal Child Unit models safe sleep practices and provides verbal education at discharge; newborns’ discharge t-shirt now reads “This Side Up”, a reminder for parents to use safe sleep practices.
- Flagler Life Institute• has held two SIDS conferences with funding from the CJ Foundation for SIDS.
- Task Force agencies participated in AHEC’s “Pregnancy and Smoking Cessation” Training.
- St. Johns County Health Department• expanded awareness of Medicaid for Pregnancy and Extended Family Planning Benefits Waiver.
- St. Johns County Public Schools’ curriculum for teen parents and child development classes incorporates “safe sleep.”
Baker County Infant Mortality Task Force
Infant mortality — the death of a baby before age one — is consistently high in Baker County. The rate typically exceeds that of the rest of the region (Northeast Florida) and the state.
The Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition and the Healthy Baker, Inc. organized a community task force in September 2010 to:
- Examine death, birth and Healthy Start screening records between to determine common demographic, behavioral, health status and health service factors associated with infant deaths in Baker County;
- Identify differences and similarities in factors associated with infant deaths in Baker and areas of the region;
- Pinpoint factors which may be amenable to intervention by the community, health care providers or Healthy Start; and,
- Develop specific community recommendations and an action plan based on a consensus of participants.
The Task Force meets quarterly and reports to the Healthy Baker, Inc. board. Membership includes public and private maternal and child health care providers, social service and mental health agencies, the faith community, education, community development organizations, business, voluntary and advocacy groups.
Clay County Infant Mortality Task Force
The Coalition’s 2015-16 Action Plan included expanding to Clay County to launch an Infant Mortality Task Force. The first official meeting took place in October 2015. The group represents different organizations and groups in Clay County that have an interested in reducing infant mortality. A presentation on infant mortality statistics for Clay County was given at the first meeting. The main focus of the group at this time is to present infant safe sleep information to grandparent groups in the community. Information about local car seat checks, safe sleep classes and resources on safe sleep were also given to the group.