With projects to improve the health of mothers and their babies now underway across central New York, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York is turning its attention to maternal child health issues in western New York.
The Health Foundation first began its Maternal and Child Health Initiative in central New York in 2009. But before investing in any one area or strategy, the Foundation commissioned an environmental scan of the region to identify needs, existing gaps and strengths in the maternal child health system
The report provided an overview of the existing service infrastructure by county, and included interviews with key staff at a variety of community-based organizations that provide maternal and child health services. In a follow-up to this report, HFWCNY decided to drill even deeper into the issues affecting birth outcomes in CNY and obtained maternal/child health data at the zip code level.
Using this information, the Foundation selected priority geographic areas with high poverty rates that have a high risk of poor maternal and child health outcomes in which to concentrate its efforts. Once these “hot spots” were identified, the Foundation commissioned the New York Academy of Medicine to interview pregnant and parenting mothers in order to gain their perspectives and learn what the experience of being pregnant and parenting is like in the central New York communities we serve.
The three resulting strategies – expanding midwifery, systems improvement projects and facilitated coordination - for improving maternal and child health outcomes were designed in direct response to information gathered directly from the region.
To read more about the central New York Maternal and Child Health Initiative, please click here.
Western New York
Given the value of the process used in central New York, the Foundation is replicating the steps to identify the needs, gaps and strengths in the system around pregnant and postpartum women and their infants in western New York.
First, the Foundation needed to identify "hot spot" neighborhoods in western New York. To do this, the Western New York Community Health Planning Insitute analyzed the demographics and perinatal and maternal health outcomes in the eight counties of western New York in “Maternal and Perinatal Health in Western New York” in August 2012.
Using information from this scan, the Foundation identified western New York’s “hot spots.” There are two in the city of Buffalo, one in the City of Niagara Falls, one in Cattaraugus County around the City of Olean and one that covers the areas bordering southern Erie, eastern Chautauqua and northwest Cattaraugus counties.
Once the hot spots were identified, the Foundation wanted to gather further insights regarding the barriers to, and motivators for, accessing care among underserved, hard-to-reach populations in western New York. As in central New York, the Foundation turned to the New York Academy of Medicine to conduct one-on-one interviews and focus groups and then analyze the findings.
In "Maternal and Child Health in Western New York: A Qualitative Study," researchers used information from interviews with 43 mothers and eight fathers to identify and examine what factors may have an impact on health pregnancy and parenting in the four "hot spot" communities.
The Health Foundation will share the information gathered with providers and members of the community in each "hot spot" in fall 2013. These meetings will help the Foundation develop specific strategies and strategies tailored to the particular strengths and needs in western New York.
In addition, the Foundation is exploring long-term strategies to expand midwifery in both regions, including establishing local midwifery education programs and increasing recruitment of midwives into rural and other high-needs communities.
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