Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has been awarded a $5 million dollar grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support existing efforts to improve health outcomes before, during and after pregnancy in select zip codes throughout Pinellas County.
The Healthy Start Initiative - Eliminating Racial/Ethnic Disparities Grant will allow the hospital’s Healthy Start program to support Black/African-American pregnant women, fathers, infants and children in at-risk communities.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see high rates of infant deaths, and maternal deaths are also on the rise,” said Sheila Devanesan, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “With this funding, we hope to increase access to well-woman services and early prenatal care. This is in addition to advocacy, education and linkage to services Healthy Start provides. Our Healthy Start program and Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Institute are partnering with agencies such as the Next STEPP pregnancy center, Well for Life, the Healthy Start Coalition and the Florida Department of Health-Pinellas, which will be instrumental in helping achieve these goals.”
In Pinellas County, an estimated 11 out of every 1,000 babies born to Black/African-American mothers died in 2017 – that’s more than double the rate of deaths of babies born to white mothers, according to the Florida Department of Health. The funding, which was announced on March 21, will expand efforts to increase awareness on topics such as safe sleep practices, breast feeding, stress management, parenting, child development, nutrition, self- and trauma-informed care.
“The refunding of the Healthy Start Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is a great opportunity for our community to build on successes that this initiative has accomplished over the past 20 years,” said Carrie Hepburn, executive director of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. “This continued investment will be used to help improve the health of infants, children and families and address long-standing disparities, as we work to create a more equitable Pinellas County.”