More Georgia children are being born to parents who do not speak English, and an Emory University School of Medicine program at Grady Memorial Hospital is helping ensure safe and healthy births for metro Atlanta's non-English speaking Hispanic women.
Thanks to a one-year $25,000 grant from the March of Dimes, Georgia chapter, Grady is better able to improve birth outcomes by expanding its Centering Pregnancy program to include a bilingual and bicultural healthcare associate who will provide group prenatal care for 100 immigrant, Spanish-speaking Hispanic women.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to the need to reach this underserved community. According to a 2004 CDC report, the Hispanic birth rate in Georgia grew by an overwhelming 643 percent -- from 2,263 births in 1990 to 16,819 in 2002.
Hispanic birth rates have also risen at Grady Hospital, where 40 percent of all babies in 2003 were born to Hispanic women. In 1992, the number of Hispanic births at Grady was estimated at 10 percent.
Claire M. Westdahl, CNM, MPH, director of nurse-midwifery at the Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Centering Pregnancy program at Grady, will oversee the grant-funded program.
"We are enriching prenatal care to address the specific and unique needs of Spanish-speaking, immigrant women," says Ms. Westdahl, a nurse-midwife for 30 years, who introduced the Centering Pregnancy model within the Grady Health System in 2000.
"This particular program recognizes the importance of strong, social support networks, access to information in Hispanic women's primary language, and empowers them to make educated decisions in areas like breastfeeding and optimal nutrition choices," explains Ms. Westdahl.
The Centering Pregnancy program at Grady focuses on prenatal care and combines assessment, education and support within a group setting. Emphasis is placed on self-care activities, education and social support to empower women within the health system. The program results in increased patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes by creating a sense of shared experience among the participants. The Centering Pregnancy program at Grady specifically addresses underserved maternal and child health needs within Fulton and DeKalb counties.