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Plain Dealer: Foundation donates $200K to fight infant mortality

The following news story was published by The Plain Dealer:

Sisters of Charity Foundation donates $200,000 to fight infant mortality in Central neighborhood

By Brie Zeltner, The Plain Dealer, November 24, 2015 

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland this week announced $200,000 in new funding to fight infant mortality in the city’s Central neighborhood.

Two grants, each $100,000, will pay for education and outreach and for a nurse to visit high-risk women at home during their pregnancies in the neighborhood, which lies south of Euclid Avenue and abuts Interstate 77 to the west.

The city of Cleveland’s infant mortality rate is about 13 deaths per 1,000 live births, more than twice the national average. Central’s infant mortality rate is roughly in the same range, according to city statistics. The neighborhood is more than 83 percent low income.

Nurse-Family Partnership, or NFP, is a nationally recognized home visiting program for low-income first-time mothers. A registered nurse visits the women 64 times over a 2½ year period during pregnancy and the first two years of the baby’s life.

Their services are expensive but effective, especially when targeted to those with the highest need. NFP has been around since the 1970’s and extensively researched. Women who participate in the program have improved prenatal health, fewer subsequent pregnancies, and longer intervals between pregnancies. Their children have fewer injuries and are more likely to arrive to school ready to learn.

Currently, NFP serves Ohio families in Franklin and Montgomery counties, but the group has never had a significant presence in Cleveland. Sisters of Charity’s $100,000 grant will be awarded to MetroHealth Medical Center to fund a single NFP nurse for the Care Alliance clinic in the neighborhood, which opened in April.

“Nurse-Family Partnership strengthens mothers’ capacity to raise healthy thriving babies,” Teleangé Thomas, the foundation’s program director for health said in a statement. “This program is making positive impact on persistently high rates of infant mortality – one of the nation’s most entrenched social problems.”

The second grant will pay for a community outreach campaign in the same neighborhood “to help engage and inform women and families living in Central, as well as other neighborhoods with high infant mortality rates, on how to have a healthy pregnancy and raise healthy thriving babies,” according to the statement.

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