Grant to combat disparity between infant mortality rates in blac - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Grant to combat disparity between infant mortality rates in black and white babies

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The Ohio Department of Medicaid awarded $2,206,645 to the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio and the Toledo Lucas County Health Department to work towards closing the gap between the number of black and white baby deaths.

The latest numbers show, the infant mortality rate for black babies is just over 14. Compare that to five for white babies.

Health Commissioner, Eric Zgodzinski said there are a number of reasons for the disparity, one of them being racism.

"We've heard these stories about racism. About people of color being followed in the store, when they're just shopping. Something as simple as that, stresses somebody out. So you compound those stresses and it can lead to the concern that we have with infant mortality," Zgodzinski said.

"I have a 19-month-old, two six-year-olds and a nine-year-old," said Toledo mom, Kaneesha Brown.

Raising her kids hasn't been an easy road. 

"Transportation. I kept getting a lot of cars that were breaking down a lot. It was hard trying to get where you're trying to go. When you've got multiple kids you don't want to get on the bus."

It's among the many barriers other moms face in Lucas County. Brown relied on the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB to get her on solid footing so she could raise healthy babies.

"I was able to come up with a plan. I had someone to sit down with me and say, 'Hey, I know it feels like your life is a mess right now, but we can work on this. We can work on that,'" said Brown.

The grant will help local community groups provide basic needs likes clothing, food and shelter. The money will also get more feet in the street, helping women who are not currently being served.

"These community health workers will be serving pregnant women and women of child-bearing age and their families in order to reduce social determinants of health, remove social barriers to care," said Carly Salamone with the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB.

Brown is one of those community health workers who support other women to help them overcome challenges.

"Just stay encouraged. Your dreams, you can still follow them. You can still be whoever it is that you want to be,," said Brown. 

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