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Metro Newsroom

Healthy Start Wins Major HRSA Grant

Monday June 22, 2009

The Healthy Start initiative of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has been awarded a new grant of $6,375,000.00 from the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). The monies will fund Healthy Start for the next five years and will be allocated in increments of $1,275,000.00 annually.

In securing the funding, the Louisville Healthy Start initiative had to compete with similar initiatives in cities throughout the United States. Although the Health Resources Services Administration has funded Healthy Start in Louisville since 1998, HRSA requires programs to reapply every four years and to undergo an extensive evaluation process.

“Earlier this year and with my strong support, Congress increased funding for Healthy Start to a total of more than $102 million,” said Congressman John Yarmuth. “I’m delighted that Louisville Healthy Start is receiving funding from this program to continue its vital services to mothers and their infants in our community.”

“This grant will allow our Public Health and Wellness Department to continue to give children in our community a healthy start in life,” said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. “This is an important program that is saving and improving the lives of high-risk children.”

“This new funding gives us resources to continue to help babies and their families during pregnancy and the critical first two years of life,” said Metro Health and Wellness Director Dr. Adewale Troutman. “It also lets us continue to close the disparate rates of infant mortality between minority populations and the overall population. Congressman Yarmuth has been a true champion of Healthy Start. We thank him for all he has done.”

“I signed up for Healthy Start services during my second pregnancy after I had a serious medical problem with my first pregnancy,” said Artena Peak. “The difference was remarkable. My Healthy Start worker was a tremendous support. I was even able to get incentives like diapers and baby wipes and baby detergent from the Healthy Start store for doing what I was supposed to be doing anyway, like keeping my doctor’s appointments. Healthy Start made a huge difference.”

“Healthy Start has been like an extended family to me,” said Healthy Start client Gergana Dinkova. “When I was pregnant, I had no family in Louisville and was very feeling very nervous about giving birth. My Healthy Start worker gave me the encouragement and support that I needed. Now I recommend Healthy Start to everyone I meet.”

Healthy Start works to reduce infant mortality in neighborhoods where rates are more than double the rate of the community as a whole. The program 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 6,000 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. The Louisville Healthy Start initiative has increased the number of women receiving preventive services after the delivery of the baby from 51% in 1999 to 91% in 2007. Program data also document a 54% reduction in smoking rates among Healthy Start clients.

Healthy Start also works to reduce the number of low birth weight babies (less than 5.5 pounds) and very low birth weight babies (less than 3.3 pounds) among participants and to ensure that women receive early and continuing prenatal care.

Low birth weight infants account for 10% of all health care costs for children. The average cost for hospitalization of a newborn at the time of birth is $4,300 compared to $58,000 for low birth weight infants. This cost escalates to $59,700 for very low birth weight infants. From 2003 to 2005 no mother enrolled in Healthy Start gave birth to a very low birth weight infant.