Stanly ranks high in minority infant mortality, looks for grant to start new program

Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Information presented at the last meeting of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners shows the county ranks high in the state among minority infant mortality.

According to a presentation by Patricia Hancock, nursing supervisor for the Stanly County Health Department, Stanly’s five-year average for infant mortality ranks fifth in the state at 20.2 per 1,000 live births. The rates from 2012 to 2016 are based on infant deaths reported among African-American Non-Hispanic, American Indian Non-Hispanic and other Non-Hispanic populations.

The county also has the highest disparity ratio in the state, 5.73, which measures the gap between infant deaths reported among white non-Hispanics and African-American Non-Hispanics.

Both of the statistics come from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services State Center for Health Statistics.

However, county officials have started a process to start a program with the goal of lowering the mortality rate.

The Health Department, with the approval of the commissioners, will apply for a grant which would help the organization start a new program to combat the rate.

Healthy Beginnings is the name of a program in North Carolina paid for with state funds which looks to reduce the rate of infant mortality among minorities.

According to the presentation, the program’s goals are “to improve birth outcomes among minority women, reduce minority infant morbidity and mortality” while also “supporting families and communities.”

The three-year grant for the program can be applied for by any public or private non-profit agency. The program gives support to mothers and their family through the first two years of the child’s life. Families are managed on a one-on-one basis, with educational objectives that include folic acid consumption, reproductive education, breastfeeding, nutrition and exercise education, baby safety and child development. Participants in the program would be eligible up until 60 days past the delivery date of the child.

Of the 100 counties in North Carolina, only 1o to 12 agencies will receive the funding based on the county’s need score and application. The grant will fund between $65,000 to $80,000 each year for three years starting in June.

Stanly’s application will be for $80,000 per year of state funds, with no additional county funds needed. The funds would cover the social worker’s salary and benefits including mileage for travel, along with a computer and office furniture. A “Baby Bucks” program would also be started, an incentive-based program where participants would earn rewards for keeping appointments and attending education classes.

“We feel like we have an excellent chance of being funded because of where we rank,” Hancock said. “The high risk status alone means we have extra points added so that would put us at a higher ranking than other grant proposals.”

The program would hire a case manager, a Social Work II, who would have a minimum caseload of 40 minority pregnant women and have to undergo a number of training programs, including one at Florida State University. That manager would also participate in a minimum of four outreach activities per year, such as health fairs, to raise community awareness.

A local advisory board would also be established per the rules of the grant with members of the community serving on it along with two participants.

After three years, the health department could reapply for additional funding on a three-year basis. Should the state funding run out, other funding would have to be obtained in order for it to continue.

The commissioners unanimously approved the health department’s request to apply for funding to start the program.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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