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Dayton Health Center To Operate Pilot Prenatal Program

State officials announce the rollout of the Centering Pregnancy program offering women a support network of prenatal care.
Jerry Kenney
State officials announce the rollout of the Centering Pregnancy program offering women a support network of prenatal care.

  A health center in Dayton is one of four in Ohio selected to pilot a prenatal care program designed to lower the state’s infant mortality rate. Ohio ranks 47th in the nation for infant deaths, and 50th for African American populations.

State Senator Shannon Jones (R) calls the numbers abysmal.

“It’s really an indicator of how safe and healthy our women and children are in the state,” she said at a gathering to announce the program rollout.

Jones co-sponsored several initiatives in 2014 to combat infant mortality, through bipartisan legislation (SB 279)  jointly introduced with Senator Charleta Tavares (D). The legislators began a statewide tour in 2013 to gather information from health workers about infant mortality.

Jones said they found "a lot of evidence out there and a lot of programs that other states have done that are showing really great results, and they’re seeing their infant mortality rates go down.”

Funding was just approved in the new state budget.  

Five Rivers Health Centers will receive startup money and up to $200,000 to operate a pilot program called Centering Pregnancy, which uses a group approach to prenatal education

Health Center CEO Gina McFarlane-El says women with similar due dates are paired with an OBGYN or certified midwife for the program.

“Actually it’s a very good use of their time, instead of repeating the same thing all day long, you get to tell eight moms the same thing at the same time." McFarlane-El says the women also learn from one another's experiences and share ideas about keeping themselves and their babies healthy.

The state has also allocated funding to identify neighborhoods with high infant death rates and promote other health initiatives for expectant mothers.