UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi has awarded more than $285,000 in maternal health grants to eight community organizations aimed at improving maternal health outcomes, reducing disparities and expanding access to care.
“Poor maternal and infant health outcomes remain unacceptably high across the country, and particularly in Mississippi, with Black women and infants bearing a disproportionate burden of adverse outcomes,” said Jeff Wedin, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi. “UnitedHealthcare is committed to supporting organizations that are improving the health of women and their babies, and we are grateful for all they do.”
The eight grant recipients include:
- Catholic Charities, Inc – Serving the state of Mississippi; $48,000 to support its Born Free/New Beginnings program, a residential treatment facility for pregnant and parenting women who identify as chemically dependent.
- Delta Health Alliance – Serving the Mississippi Delta; $40,000 to provide baby supplies, build a women's advisory council and train staff.
- Diaper Bank of the Delta – Serving North Mississippi; $10,000 to provide essential items such as diapers, blankets, books and information about the diaper bank to low-income women delivering at local hospitals.
- Edwards Street Fellowship Center – Serving Hattiesburg; $40,000 to support its diaper and feminine product banks, and women's health program.
- Pickles & Popsicles Inc. – Serving Jackson; $10,000 to advocate and support moms through the mental, emotional and physical tolls of motherhood while connecting moms to vital community resources.
- Mississippi Public Health Institute/The Jackson Safer Childbirth Experience – Serving Jackson; $77,700 to expand postpartum and perinatal mood disorder support for families, develop a support group for new parents and a community-based doula program, and train a board-certified lactation consultant.
- Mississippi SIDS & Infant Safety Alliance – Serving the state of Mississippi; $20,000 to support the Cribs for Kids Program that provides cribs to families in need, and the Baby Basics Program that provides safe sleep training to expectant parents.
- Spring Initiative's Baby University – Serving Clarksdale; $40,000 to support the program's Uplifting Mamas Community Doula Program that provides pregnant and postpartum women with the support they need during pregnancy and the first three months after delivery.
“With this funding, we will be able to provide much needed support to pregnant women and new families through local community-based doulas. By training these doulas to become breastfeeding consultants, we can support new moms who may be breastfeeding for the first time,” said Tennille Collins, MPH, program manager, Mississippi Public Health Institute. “I’m excited about the opportunity we have to bolster a network with support groups and counselors to assist families after giving birth.”
“Spring Initiative’s Baby University is excited for the opportunity to increase access to cultural-centered doula care for pregnant and postpartum women, and through the Uplifting Mamas program we will train women to support others in their community before and after birth to improve both maternal and children’s health outcomes,” said Chelesa Presley, director, Spring Initiative Baby University, and executive director, Diaper Bank of the Delta. “Additionally, the Diaper Bank of the Delta is proud to offer our program in local hospitals to support families in meeting the basic needs of their babies after leaving the hospital.”
Infants born preterm or with low birth weight are at an increased risk for experiencing physical disabilities and developmental impairments throughout their lives. According to America’s Health Rankings, the rate of Mississippi’s low birth weight infants (defined as less than 5 pounds 8 ounces) has been on the rise, now accounting for 12.1% of births, leaving the state ranked last of 50 states. Additionally, the state’s preterm birth rates have been increasing for three years, making up 14.6% of current births, and the state’s Black women have a 43% higher rate than all other women according to March of Dimes, which fights for the health of all moms and babies.
These grants are part of several initiatives that UnitedHealthcare, along with its parent company UnitedHealth Group, is launching to address maternal health outcomes throughout the United States, including over $5 million in recent philanthropic grants to support maternal health and $2.85 million in support to March of Dimes for a public-private partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services that aims to reduce the Black-White disparity gap and improve maternal health outcomes.
UnitedHealthcare serves more than 464,000 people in Mississippi enrolled in employer-sponsored, individual, Medicare and Medicaid benefit plans, with a network of 109 hospitals, and nearly 13,000 physicians and other care providers statewide.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.