ST. PETERSBURG — All Children’s Hospital will receive an $850,000 grant to help combat infant mortality.
The Healthy Start grant announced Wednesday will help All Children’s to serve about 1,100 people a year, according to a hospital news release.
Physician Shelia Devanesan, who works with obstetrics and gynecology at All Children’s, said the hospital will take a multilayered approach with plans to help strengthen families, to improve women’s health and to make sure newborns have a good foundation.
Most infant deaths can be linked to serious birth defects, premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome, injuries and complications during pregnancy.
Minority babies traditionally have higher rates of infant mortality. The Florida Department of Health reports that between 2012 and 2013, the black infant death rate was twice that of white infants.
“The problem is we’re seeing a huge racial disparity ... and within our county it is 16.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, within the area we are focusing on, which is higher than the national standard,” Devanesan said.
She said the grant will allow the hospital to focus on women dealing with adverse social and economic conditions. She said the hospital will put a greater emphasis on pregnant women, making sure they are receiving mental and physical care, and addressing issues such as stress, anxiety and depression before a baby is born.
Funding also will allow the hospital to send a nurse to check on the new mother and baby within 48 hours of being released from the hospital. The nurse would be available to give advice and support to the mom, and to make sure the environment is safe for the child. Components that will highlight the importance of father involvement will be included in the overall health plan.
Funding also will provide for women who are not pregnant but need better access to care for family planning services and birth control.
Reach Up, a Tampa organization focused on health care equality, also was awarded a grant for $1.42 million.