BabyLink service latest tool in preventing Butler County infant deaths

BabyLink service latest tool in preventing Butler County infant deaths

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Tiara Thomas holds her baby So-Nae Turner as Natalie Jones, a certified community health worker from Butler County Moms and Babies First, looks on. Butler County’s new “BabyLink” service will provide critical information to mothers to help ensure they deliver a healthy baby. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

The Butler County United Way as part of its 2017-18 campaign to serve the public, has partnered with the county’s health department to help fight the ongoing battle against infant mortality. The effort involves the creation of a service called “BabyLink,” that will provide critical information needed by mothers to help ensure they deliver a healthy baby.

Butler County’s infant mortality rate is 8.47 per 1,000 live births, while Ohio’s statewide infant mortality rate is 7.72 per 1,000 live births, according to Butler County Health Department.

While infant mortality has been decreasing overall in Ohio since 1990, both Butler County’s and Ohio’s rates are above the Healthy People 2020 national goal of 6.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Mag Baker, president and CEO of the Butler County United Way, said the agency has been working with Butler County Health Commissioner Jenny Bailer on developing a “one-stop service” that will help women get information on services for their baby.

“Butler County has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state along with Montgomery County,” Baker said. “We are working with the health department to let mothers know there this a lot of help out there for them. We just want to make sure that when mothers go to the hospital to deliver their baby that they have had pre-natal care.”

Bailer said this year, the team that studies infant mortality at the Butler County Health Department conducted a series of surveys to identify gaps and needs.

She explained that one area identified was the lack of a centralized place to go to get information on all the programs and supports available to pregnant women and those with young infants in Butler County.

“We are seeking to fill this gap by contracting with United Way of Butler County to provide a free service called 2-1-1 BabyLink,” Bailer said. “Anyone can dial 2-1-1 and press a number for BabyLink and talk to a counselor.”

The counselors will be specially trained to talk to pregnant women about all the services available to them and will then link them to these services.

“If a woman needs help with transportation to her prenatal appointments, needs a free Pack N Play for her baby, needs a program that will provide a home visitor or community health worker to assist her, wants to enroll in one of our new centering pregnancy programs for prenatal care at Primary Health Solutions or Atrium Medical Center, needs assistance signing up for Medicaid or WIC— the counselors can help steer the woman in the right direction,” Bailer said.

She added, “there are so many services in our community, but it is hard for a women to know about all of them, especially if this is her first pregnancy. We wanted to make it really easy for women or a family to get access to everything with just one phone call, 2-1-1.”

The Butler County United Way is working with the United Way of Greater Dayton to provide the 2-1-1 BabyLink service.

“Dayton manages our 2-1-1 service that we provide Butler County with and we pay them for that,” Baker said. “So their operators will be the ones trained to handle all of the calls that come in.”

Baker explained that this effort is one of several that the Butler County United Way is undertaking this year to help combat several issues involving the need for social services.

“We are also working with Sojourner Recovery Services to support pregnant mothers who are trying to get clean so they can have a healthy baby and stay off of drugs,” Baker said.

There are billboards that have been placed around the county advertising 2-1-1 BabyLink, which is up and running, especially in the neighborhoods that have the highest number of at risk babies born.

“We are really trying hard to target these areas so they are in the know about all the things they can access. People can help by spreading the word about 2-1-1 BabyLink to all young women and families,” Bailer said. “BabyLink is a dream come true for our team as this should fill this need very nicely and will help our babies reach more first birthdays and beyond.”

BY THE NUMBERS: 2016 infant mortality rates in Butler County

6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births (all races)

4.5 deaths per 1, 000 live births (non-Hispanic whites)

16.3 deaths per 1,000 live births (non-Hispanic blacks)

Source: Ohio Department of Health

HOW TO GET HELP

Dial 2-1-1 to access BabyLink and talk to a counselor regarding programs and services for pregnant mothers

Contact the Butler County Health Department at 513-887-5251

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