Infant mortality has long indicated the health of a population and is influenced by a host of factors, including poverty, lifestyle, and a lack of education. In Northeast Florida, a region made up of five counties, the infant mortality rate is higher than the national average and the need to look at the factors that influence the rate at which children die before their first birthday is great and pressing. My host site, the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, identifies the health and social risk factors of women and aims to, “improve the lives of pregnant women and their families” by holistically supporting, educating, and referring women and their families to resources, thus enabling them to lead healthier lifestyles.
As the Outreach Coordinator, one of my responsibilities is to meet with women and their families to identify their different needs and concerns before enrolling them into the Healthy Start program. I gain insight into their unique stories and educate them on various topics such as safe sleep, the importance of proper nutrition during pregnancy and, depending on their needs, assist them with Medicaid for pregnancy applications.
Over the course of the past few months I have met mothers varying in race, socioeconomic status, education among other issues. However, there are a few encounters that have left quite an impression on me. A few weeks ago I met with a young lady who was pregnant with her first child in the midst of tragic circumstances. She was a young newlywed experiencing the stressors of having a husband in between jobs, being uninsured, and struggling with ongoing sickness while tirelessly working herself. While speaking to her, she seemed very discouraged and she even confided to me the fact that sometimes she wished that she had never gotten pregnant.
Together we discussed a myriad of concerns. We overviewed the required topics like safe sleep, preterm labor signs, and breastfeeding. She also disclosed deeper, personal subjects. She told me what she was most worried about as a soon to be first-time mother and what she felt she needed in order to be successful in her current state. By the time we parted ways, I was able to submit an application for health insurance on her behalf so that she could soon start attending her necessary appointments and gave her a list of resources for further assistance, all of which contributed to the NEFHSC mission of helping her lead a healthier life.
In the six months that I have been a part of the National Health Corps Florida program and the NEFHSC, I have felt honored to have been able to be a listening ear and a resource for the families I have come in contact with. Whether I am meeting women at a nearby McDonald’s, stepping into the privacy of their homes, or even talking to them on the phone, knowing that I can be of any type of assistance during such an important time of their lives is a priceless, rewarding feeling. I am honored to be a part of such a great organization and do my part to “improve the lives of pregnant women and their families.”
This blog post was written by NHC Florida member Rejoice Asomugha.
Rejoice serves at the Northeast FL Healthy Start Coalition as an Outreach Coordinator.