MedStar Health in Washington, D.C., has announced a $27 million commitment from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation in support of an initiative to address high mortality rates among mothers and children in the national capital region.
The largest philanthropic gift to date to MedStar Health will fund the D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative, a collaboration of four MedStar Health clinical programs aimed at creating a range of services that address the needs of pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. To be provided by Women and Infants' Services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Community Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the services will include diabetes control and mental health counseling for mothers, prenatal and postpartum care, breast feeding support, health screenings, and nutrition programs. MedStar Health has committed to raising an additional $3 million in support of the initiative.
Women and Infants' Services serves the predominantly African-American residents of Wards 5, 7, and 8, where stillborn deliveries and infant mortality overall is nearly four times higher for African-American mothers than for white mothers. The D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative is projected to serve about thirty-six hundred pregnant women annually.
"The Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative brings something powerful to mothers and infants by integrating services critical for achieving optimal birth outcomes but are not traditionally provided within the healthcare system," said Loral Patchen, vice chair of Innovation and Community Programs, Obstetrics, and Gynecology at MedStar Washington. "These services directly address social determinants such as food insecurity and transportation. And perhaps more importantly, our approach of offering an environment where women feel safe interacting with the healthcare system and are able to build trusting relationships with their healthcare team is more likely."
"The Clark Foundation's goal for our investments is to make an impact not only at a family level but at a community level and beyond," said the foundation's president, Joe Del Guercio. "Because MedStar is already a trusted health provider for so many moms and babies in Washington, D.C., this initiative is uniquely positioned to have a broad impact with its focus on social determinants of health, its innovative service delivery, and its partnerships with community-based providers."