Cleveland Clinic launched the Center for Infant and Maternal Health initiative to help reduce infant and maternal mortality in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Summit counties.
According to the Ohio Equity Institute annual report, Cuyahoga County’s infant mortality rate was 7.6 per 1,000 live births in 2020. There are profound racial disparities: the infant mortality rate is 3.2 per 1,000 for white infants compared to 14.6 per 1,000 among Black infants.
“We recognize that these complex problems will only be solved if we embrace our responsibility to the communities we serve and work with community partners to find solutions,” said Beri Ridgeway, M.D., Cleveland Clinic Chief Of Staff. “We are committed to health equity and eliminating racial disparities by offering community-based, evidence-driven care.”
Oluwatosin “Tosin” Goje, M.D., medical director of the center, is leading the initiative, which brings together a wide range of specialty health services to support at-risk women during their pregnancy and through an infant’s first year of life.
“This initiative is our pledge to support vulnerable women,” said Dr. Goje. “We will focus on reducing premature births, increasing awareness about safe sleep and promoting the benefits of breastfeeding. The infant mortality rate serves as a key indicator of maternal and infant health, and also an important measure of the health status of the community.”
As part of the initiative, Cleveland Clinic is focused on expanding and coordinating services at existing locations, partnering with local community resources and finding new solutions.
The weeks following birth are a critical period for mother and infant. As a result, Cleveland Clinic has shifted its model of postpartum care to see mothers at least twice during the first six weeks after they give birth. That will allow healthcare professionals to provide support, resources and follow-up care for chronic disease management, such as hypertension and diabetes, mood and emotional well-being, infant care and feeding, and contraception.
With the support of philanthropic funding, the center was able to launch. Since then, the center has recruited OB navigators to help connect patients to community resources and a midwife provider at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus to expand patient access in vulnerable Cleveland neighborhoods.
“The healthcare needs in Northeast Ohio are vast, and no one organization can manage the demand for care alone,” said Dr. Goje. “Partnerships and resource-sharing among large and small institutions is a vital part of the solution.”
The center has trained and recruited individuals from vulnerable communities to help remove barriers to care. This included training community health workers as perinatal support specialists, partnering with doulas as integral parts of the care team, hiring health navigators and launching a comprehensive home visit program.
Other programs that are part of Cleveland Clinic’s efforts include:
Participating in the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s Comprehensive Maternal Care, which is a community-based, statewide program aimed at improving the health and well-being of moms, infants, and families covered by Medicaid.
Offering two nationwide Centering programs, CenteringPregnancy and CenteringParenting, which provide group medical appointments that support women during their pregnancy and into parenting.
Continuing to work with First Year Cleveland and partnering with the Cleveland organization, Birthing Beautiful Communities, to pilot a perinatal support specialist program, supporting 50 women for 80 weeks.
Source: Cleveland Clinic