(INDIANAPOLIS) – The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today presented its seventh annual Labor of Love Infant Mortality Summit at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.
The focus of this year’s summit was Connecting Communities, emphasizing how community partnerships are needed to help more Indiana babies reach their first birthdays. Gov. Eric J. Holcomb, who has set a goal for Indiana to be the best in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024, kicked off the event hosted by WISH-TV anchor and reporter Brooke Martin. More than 1,500 public health professionals from across the state joined together at the event to share new ways to positively impact the lives of the most vulnerable Hoosiers.
“Mothers deserve to see their babies celebrate their first birthdays. Ensuring both moms and infants receive the health care and support they need is a key piece of my Next Level agenda,” Gov. Holcomb said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck effort, and I am confident we have the right people putting the best resources in place across our state to make that happen.”
A key to saving more babies in Indiana is to address the disparities and socioeconomic factors that prevent a woman from accessing prenatal care early and continuing that care for herself and her baby. That means linking pregnant women to services where they live and connecting community-based organizations to each other.
“It will take communities working in unison to make sure the needs of every mom and baby in Indiana are met,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “I’m emboldened by seeing so many health professionals and community partners committed to making a difference in the health and development of Indiana’s children and families.”
One new state initiative focused on that mission is the ISDH OB Navigator program, established in partnership with the Family and Social Services Administration and the Indiana Department of Child Services. The goal of this program is to identify women early in their pregnancies and connect them with an OB navigator – a home visitor who provides personalized guidance and support to a woman during her pregnancy through at least the first six to 12 months after her baby’s birth. The program will begin by connecting pregnant women who are covered by Medicaid in the state’s highest-risk areas to services in their communities. Community sessions explaining OB Navigator are underway across the state in preparation for implementation set to begin in January.
The summit featured Nzinga Harrison, M.D., who spoke about connecting communities to support maternal substance use and mental health disorders, and pediatrician Dipesh Navsaria, M.D., who discussed the impact of early life experiences on child development. Attendees chose from more than 30 different afternoon breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to maternal and infant mortality. Click here to visit the event website for more information.