Preventing Infant Mortality in Georgia February 2019 - Page 14

14 Healthcare Georgia Foundation plans to sustain the initiative after completion of the program. All programs plan to continue the major components of TCOY after the completion of the initiative, including reproductive life planning, breastfeeding education and support, and infant sleep safety education and outreach. Despite the staffing shortages and limited funding, program staff feel invested in these critical healthcare services and know that their clients have benefited from them. All program staff wanted additional staff and financial resources to expand their programs to other communities in need. roviding financial and technical support to implement and evaluate the Taking Care of You Initiative in selected Georgia health departments resulted in notable capacity development of grantees, in terms of their ability to collect and use objective process and outcome data for program improvement and outcome evaluation, and yielded notable successes in implementing and measuring new intervention strategies that supported improving rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and safe sleep. Implementation of TCOY in high-disparity communities served by public health departments may be an important strategy for improving infant health outcomes in these communities, and early findings show promise for addressing risk for preterm birth and sleep-related infant deaths. Mixed success around low birth weight underscores the importance of continuing efforts to address women’s health and prenatal care in these communities.  TCOY has been an inspiration and a key resource for grantees to serve women at high-risk for adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.  TCOY program staff offered medical, emotional, and educational support to high-risk women during and after their pregnancies, and the women greatly valued it.  Implementing and monitoring takes time and requires human and financial resources, but the provision of tools and assistance contributes to capacity development for process improvement and monitoring of program outcomes.  TCOY serves as an important public health model for improving infant health outcomes and may be applied to other high-risk populations.  The underlying factors that contribute to poor birth and infant health outcomes also contribute to poor maternal health outcomes, namely, lack of access to quality healthcare and family planning services before and between pregnancies and to quality prenatal and post-birth care. Creating partnerships with those working across the maternal-infant health continuum to attract resources and support policy, practice, and community level initiatives to improve women’s and infants’ access to the continuum of preventive, primary, and reproductive healthcare is essential.