The United Health Foundation has partnered with Any Baby Can, a Texas-based organization, to expand at-home maternal care services and improve the health of at-risk prenatal women and their children in Austin, Texas, and its surrounding communities. Fully 14% of Any Baby Can’s Nurse-Family Partnership clients in 2017 were diagnosed with preeclampsia, considered one of the most preventable causes of maternal death. A three-year, $2 million United Health Foundation grant will support the expansion of Any Baby Can’s evidence-based Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) home visitation program.
The NFP program matches first-time, at-risk moms with a registered nurse to bring answers, guidance and confidence in the comfort of the home, from pregnancy until the child reaches age 2. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has continued through virtual telehealth visits. The grant partnership will allow ABC to develop new services for the NFP program, including:
- Training mothers at risk for preeclampsia to use blood pressure monitors and alert their nurse or OB-GYN about major changes in status.
- Developing and implementing a new Crisis Risk Assessment Protocol to identify mental health needs among clients and provide home-based counseling services.
“The United Health Foundation and Any Baby Can share the goal of improving the health of at-risk pregnant woman and ensuring children get the right start in life,” said Dr. Janice Huckaby, chief medical officer of Maternal-Child Health at Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company. “And at this historic time, we are hearing that women are avoiding needed care due to fear of exposure to COVID-19. It is important to limit potential exposure to COVID-19, but at the same time, it is critical to receive needed health care. Through this partnership, expectant and new mothers will have better access to needed medical care that addresses a public health imperative.”
Texas has had some of the poorest maternal health outcomes in the country, and COVID-19 is exacerbating these serious challenges. According to the most recent America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Data Update, the maternal mortality rate in Texas was 18.5 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is higher than the national rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Texas also has a lower than average percentage of women who received the recommended prenatal care in their first four months of pregnancy.
“The need is great for expanded maternal care services in our community and we hope mothers appreciate — now more than ever — that they can turn to our Nurse-Family Partnership program for health advice and services that address the mental, physical and psychological health of the whole family,” said Veronda Durden, chief executive officer of Any Baby Can. “We are grateful for the United Health Foundation’s generous support, which will empower Any Baby Can to serve more at-risk mothers and babies and ultimately improve their health and futures.”
UnitedHealth Group and its member companies are committed to improving the health of mothers and newborns, raising awareness for improved maternal health, and reducing the occurrence of avoidable maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. UnitedHealthcare’s Healthy Pregnancy and Maternity Support programs provide resources and services to help expectant mothers get the most out of their benefits, make informed decisions and promote dialogue with care providers. Other recent efforts by UnitedHealth Group to address maternal health needs and improve outcomes include the United Health Foundation’s grant partnerships with East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.