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Metro Newsroom

Healthy Start to Expand with a Grant from Norton

Tuesday February 24, 2009

The Healthy Start initiative of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness will expand to serve 200 more families thanks to a $308,227.00 grant from the Norton Healthcare Community Trust Fund.

“This grant from the Norton HealthCare Community Trust will literally save the lives of babies in our community,” said Mayor Jerry Abramson. “For the past ten years the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has been having a huge positive impact on the lives of infants and their families living in west Louisville through its Health Start initiative. This grant from Norton will allow us to give even more infants a healthy start in life.”

“Norton’s grant will allow us to bring Healthy Start services to more high-risk infants and their families in west Louisville,” said Metro Public Health and Wellness director Dr. Adewale Troutman. “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 $1,275,000.00 annually from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and has a 20-member staff. The $308,227.00 grant from the Norton HealthCare Community Trust fund will allow Healthy Start to serve an additional 200 families – an estimated 425 infants, toddlers and women. The Norton grant will fund two additional full-time registered nurses, three case managers, and contracted outreach and evaluation services. The grant will also fund participant education and transportation for participants to health care appointments.

“The Louisville Healthy Start initiative has a proven track record of success,” said Steve Williams, President and CEO of Norton HealthCare. Norton is happy to make it possible for Healthy Start to assist more infants and their families.”

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 5,500 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. 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.

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 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.