BONIFAY — Representative Missy Lee from the Chipola Healthy Start program informed those attending the Bonifay Kiwanis Club on March 12 that Holmes County had the highest infancy mortality rate in the State of Florida, however they are trying to reduce those numbers through the Chipola Healthy Start Program.
“Since 1991 our main goal has been to decrease infant mortality, decrease number of preterm births and decrease the number of low birth weight deliveries,” said Lee. “As a community-based, community-driven program we serve as the Maternal and Child Health advocate for pregnant women and young children. We are a volunteer program that offers care coordination and educational services to pregnant women, infants and children under the age of three, funded through a local, non-profit corporation.”
She said some common misunderstandings needed to be cleared, saying that Healthy Start is not “an income-based program, welfare program or a health department initiative.”
“By law every physician in the state of Florida is required to offer Healthy Start Screening to all pregnant women and their babies and by initialing ‘yes’ to being screened on the Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screen women will know within minutes if they or their baby have any potential health risks,” said Lee. “Even if the mother doesn’t have problems or the desire to use Healthy Start Programs, completing the Healthy Start screen at their doctor or midwife’s office will be helpful in gathering data and funding necessary to improve the system of call for all moms and babies in Northwest Florida.”
Healthy Start “saves lives and money,” she said.
“According to the Florida Department of Health research studies, the Healthy Start Program screening process is effective in identifying risk for delivering a low birth weight or preterm infant,” said Lee. “Holmes County has the highest infancy mortality rate in the state of Florida and you ask why are they dying. The answer is seriously smoking is causing the low birth weight and mortality rate.”
She said in order to have healthier babies there must be healthier mothers.
“Healthy Start’s risk screening identification process, prevision of risk-appropriate care and access to timely prenatal and postpartum care result in better birth outcomes, therefore saving lives and money,” said Lee. “The Lieutenant Governor of the Kiwanis Club is pushing for a Diaper Dump, which is pushing for all the local Kiwanis Clubs to collect 750,000 diapers by Mother’s Day. At the upcoming Down Home Street Festival we’ll be giving out diapers and wipes.”
For more information for Holmes County Healthy Start call 547-8684 and for Washington County Healthy Start call 526-2412.