September is Healthy Birth Outcomes Month
September 27, 2010, Wilkes-Barre, PA – According to the March of Dimes, about 1 in every 12 babies in the United States is born with low birthweight. Locally in Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s service area, 8 percent of all births in 2008 were low birthweights . These babies are at increased risk for serious health problems as newborns and for lasting disabilities. But there are steps women can take during pregnancy to reduce their risk of unhealthy birth outcomes.
“A healthy pregnancy is the single most important factor in determining a healthy birth and a healthy start to life for the baby,” said Dr. Thomas Curry, a pediatrician and Medical Director with Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. “Programs that support at-risk women during their pregnancies, and continue to provide support during the first year of the infant’s life, help prevent avoidable health conditions, improve the families’ quality of life, and keep health care costs low.”
September is National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, and The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania recently renewed its grant support for the nationally recognized Maternal and Family Health Services (MFHS) Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides prenatal and healthy infant programs for first time at-risk mothers. Since 2008, The Foundation has awarded more than $160,000 in grants to provide health services and education programs to 1,370 expectant and new mothers who otherwise might not receive them.
The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program is part of a national, research-based nurse visitation program that provides health education and screenings, counseling, life skills training and other prenatal intervention to low-income expectant women or new mothers and their babies. Weekly or bi-weekly home visits by an RN ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy, healthy birth weight deliveries, and quality care-giving for the child during the first year after birth.
A Blue Ribbon grant of $10,000.00 is helping Maternal and Family Health Services purchase educational materials for 200 new low-income expectant and first-time mothers in the coming year.
One such mom is Tiffany Bromack of Luzerne.
“This is a great program for first-time moms who may not have a role model,” said Ms. Bromack. “My role model is my nurse Debbie, and I know she’ll be there for me to help me set a solid foundation for my son, Jaden. Debbie has been with me throughout my pregnancy and taught me about nutrition, answered all my questions and prepared me for a healthy delivery. She gave me the confidence to be a good mother.”
According to Ms. Bromack’s nurse home visitor, Deborah Rutkoski RN, BSN, “We use scientifically-tested education models to help new mothers develop positive parenting and life skills. Using these materials, our clients can create a loving, safe, healthy and stable home for their babies.”
“This program has a national track record, and we know it makes a difference,” said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation. “Using this approach, MFHS has already helped more than 1,170 first-time mothers across 10 counties achieve better health and better lives for their babies. We are so pleased to continue our partnership with MFHS and help an additional 200 families make healthy choices that will pay off in the years ahead.”
Find out More
The Blue Ribbon Foundation’s funding cycles run quarterly. For more information on funding priorities, application deadlines and eligibility criteria, please visit www.bcnepa.com, and click on The Blue Ribbon Foundation tab.
About The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. It offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania established its private, non-profit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.