$3M awarded to improve maternal health at Cape Girardeau hospital

$3M awarded to improve maternal health at Cape Girardeau hospital

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A maternal health program at an area hospital received $3 million.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the money through the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies program and Health Resources and Services Administration to Saint Francis Healthcare System.

“We wanna make sure that fewer babies die, more babies are healthy, and we’re doing everything we can,” said Christy LeGrand, Saint Francis Healthcare System Development Officer - Grants Administrator. “We want to take care of babies right here in southeast Missouri as much as possible. Any of the services that we can provide here, it’s to the advantage of moms and their families that they don’t have to travel to St. Louis or to Memphis."

According to Dr. Karlyle Christian-Ritter, Medical Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for Saint Francis Healthcare System, there’s a high infant mortality rate in Southeast Missouri. She said it’s because of multiple factors including poverty, poor sleep practices, maternal health, and poor mother’s health.

“This grant will allow us to come together with multiple entities in southeast Missouri, both healthcare and community entities, to come together and address the social, healthcare, and economic needs of the woman and children of southeast Missouri," said Christian-Ritter.

She said 14 organizations are partnering together, including Missouri Delta Medical Center, Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems, Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, three mental health agencies, six health departments, and SoutheastHEALTH.

“I’m very excited about it, because this is one of the first times in my entire career that all partners have signed onto something in this area," said Sheila Beussink, SoutheastHEALTH Director of Patient Services. She said the group effort’s needed in southeast Missouri.

“We wanna improve maternal and child outcomes. So, anything we can do to decrease infant mortality rates in the Bootheel is a great thing to partner with,” said Beussink.

“To have that many different perspectives to come to a room to work on one problem is destined for success," said Christian-Ritter.

According to LeGrand, it’s a four-year grant. The first year is for planning and next three are for implementing.

Christian-Ritter and LeGrand want to thank all of the agencies partnering together and Missouri HealthNet.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds HHS.

“Rural areas have unique needs when it comes to all aspects of health care delivery, including maternal health,” said Blunt. “This program will help rural communities develop and implement strategies that will improve access to maternal health in Missouri and provide a model for other areas nationwide. Making sure women in rural areas have access to the care they need to support a healthy pregnancy and birth will remain a priority.”

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