Program at Metro seeks to curb infant mortality

Posted at 6:06 PM, Dec 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-10 18:06:54-05

A newborn's cry, changing diapers and feeding times are all routine things for new parents, but sadly during that first year some lives get cut short.

“Infant mortality is a huge problem across the United States and especially in Ohio and Cuyahoga County,” said Dr. Brian Mercer, Director of the Women’s Center at MetroHealth Medical Center.

In 2013, the Ohio Department of Health reported infant mortality rates in the state were higher than the national average by 23 percent, and the racial disparity in those deaths was substantial.

Many of the primary causes of infant mortality are actually preventable. That’s why MetroHealth sought to implement a new nurse home visiting program to combat the problem. It’s the first of its kind in Cleveland.

Dr. Mercer said a lot can go wrong once the baby gets home from the hospital, especially for first-time parents. He described why the home visiting program might be a key solution to the problem.

“There’s so many things that happen before baby gets to the hospital to get care. And this will be a demonstration project where we can go into a family’s home in the region who are at risk, and if we demonstrate that it’s affective in reducing infant mortality then the goal would be to grow it community-wide.”

This is how it works. A registered nurse will visit a woman 64 times over a 2.5-year period during pregnancy and the first two years of the baby's life to monitor and address health issues.

Judy Bodrock, director of nursing for women and children, said scoping out the home environment is the most effective way to create change.

“Being in the home gives us the opportunity to see what factors are happening in the home and what we can do to help the family.”

Mount Sinai granted the program that will begin recruiting participants in the summer of 2016.