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Public Health and Wellness Awarded $572,000 Grant from Norton Healthcare for Healthy Start Program

Tuesday November 8, 2011

The Healthy Start initiative of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has been awarded a two-year $572,000 grant from Norton Healthcare. The grant will allow the department to expand Healthy Start services to an additional 400 families in west Louisville over the next two years. Norton Healthcare is the Louisville region’s leading provider of obstetrical and pediatric services and delivers more than 8,000 babies each year and is currently converting Norton Suburban Hospital into a new women’s and children’s hospital.

“One of our top goals is creating a healthier Louisville – a much healthier Louisville - and that means healthy, thriving babies. Every child born into our city deserves a healthy start in life,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “This important grant from Norton Healthcare will enable our Healthy Start staff to work with more families by providing home visits to make sure the expectant moms get early and regular prenatal care. I will also help ensure that newborns in neighborhoods that are at high risk for infant mortality get the health and nutritional services they need to grow and succeed.”

“This grant from Norton Healthcare will literally save the lives of babies in our community,” said Public Health and Wellness Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt. “It will allow us to continue to bring Healthy Start services to more high-risk infants and their families in west Louisville. It will help us to keep more babies from dying before their first birthday and will allow us to continue to close the disparate rates of infant mortality between minority populations and the overall population.”

The Louisville Healthy Start initiative currently receives funds of $1.275 million annually from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The $572,000 grant from Norton Healthcare will allow Healthy Start to serve an additional 400 families – an estimated 850 infants, toddlers and women. Thanks to a $308,000 grant from Norton Healthcare in 2009, Healthy Start increased new enrollments by more than 70% between 2008 and 2010.

“As the region’s leading provider of obstetrical and pediatric services, Norton Healthcare knows that premature and low birth weight babies are at higher risk for serious health problems and even infant mortality, a particularly pervasive problem in west Louisville,” said Charlotte Ipsan, RNC, MSN, NNP-BC, system vice president, pediatric services for Norton Healthcare/Kosair Children’s Hospital and one of the co-leaders to help convert Norton Suburban Hospital into a women’s and children’s hospital. “The Louisville Healthy Start initiative has a proven track record of success and has made a real difference for families enrolled in Healthy Start programs. We are delighted that Norton Healthcare’s continued support will allow Healthy Start to help even more infants and their families and will further improve our community’s health.”

Healthy Start works to reduce infant mortality in west Louisville neighborhoods where infant mortality rates are more than double the rate of the community as a whole. Healthy Start provides case management, education, and preventive health services to families enrolled in Healthy Start programs.

Since it was established in Louisville in 1998, Healthy Start has helped more than 7,500 families. The Healthy Start initiative in Louisville is one of only a very few across the country that had no infant deaths among participants from 2002 to 2005 and in 2007.

Healthy Start also works to reduce the number of low birth weight babies (less than 5.5 pounds). In 2009, African American Healthy Start participants had fewer low birth weight deliveries and lower rate of prematurity when compared to African American non-participants. From 2006 to 2009, a higher rate of African American Healthy Start participants received first trimester care when compared with African American non-participants in the program area.

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