June 6, 2008

First federally funded Healthy Start Project of San Diego celebrates one year of service to pregnant women

Project Concern International and other key stakeholders from more than 35 clinics, hospitals, and county and community organizations, convened at the Malcolm X Library to celebrate California Border Healthy Start Project’s one year of service to pregnant women. Congressman Bob Filner and representatives from Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny and Assemblywoman Shirley Horton’s offices were also in attendance.

Awarded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the four-year California Border Healthy Start Project is one of only two such awards made in 2007. The National Healthy Start Program is currently funding 98 projects in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. San Diego’s program will improve the health of low-income pregnant women, mothers, and their babies, in Southeast San Diego, Mid-City, Central San Diego, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, and National City, areas that represent the highest levels of poverty and poor birth outcomes in San Diego County.

Congressman Bob Filner recently discussed the importance of public health and community awareness at the California Border Healthy Start Program (CBHSP) consortium meeting. Pictured here with the Congressman are: CBHSP field workers; Dr. Maria Lourdes Reyes, Project Director of CBHSP; and other community activists.

Targeted underserved populations in San Diego County have substantially less access to quality health care than the rest of the county. African American infants in the project area are twice as likely to die as their counterparts in the US general population. In the same area, the number of births in the Hispanic community is high – 60.2 percent compared to 44.3 percent in the county overall.

The project in the past year has served the area’s pregnant women with the use of patient navigators, community outreach workers and doulas (lay birth companions). Over three hundred women have been out reached and about half have been enrolled in the program. Dr. Maria Lourdes Reyes, the Project Director, explains that the navigators serve to improve follow-up through case management for both mother and child through 2 years of age.

“We believe that this project will enable San Diego to become a model for increasing access to perinatal care and services for those who need them most,” said Hilda Araiza, a project partner supervisor of the navigators and works with Community Benefits at the Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista Wellness Center.

Representative Bob Filner shared with the attendees the importance of this project in the community and looked forward to the improved birth outcomes and care for the pregnant women.

Project Concern International is a leading health and humanitarian assistance organization dedicated to building healthy communities and saving the lives of children and families around the world.

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