Special to The Dallas Examiner
For many mothers and infants who face socioeconomic and health inequities, the first year after birth can be a tenuous time. New mothers bringing their infants home from the hospital may be worried about being able to afford postpartum health care for themselves or basic supplies like diapers and wipes for their baby.
Reducing maternal and infant mortality during this vulnerable period is a crucial initiative that Parkland Health & Hospital System has been addressing through its Extending Maternal Care program – known as eMCAP – launched in October 2020.
Thirty-seven-year-old Funmilayo Brian and her husband welcomed their first child, Zoe, in February. As Parkland patients, the eMCAP program provided Funmilayo with regular home visits and phone check-ups from a Parkland health care worker to ensure she and Zoe are doing well. She’s also received assistance with transportation and a monthly supply of diapers and baby wipes donated by Hope Supply Co.
“They have helped me a lot, a lot, a lot. I am so grateful,” Funmilayo said. “The Parkland nurse is an angel. She is so encouraging and checks on me and Zoe often to see if we are okay and to answer my questions. The diapers and supplies are so expensive to buy. I can’t tell you how much all this has helped me and my baby.”
The gap between where Medicaid coverage ended at 60 days after delivery and the first year postpartum is when more than half of all maternal deaths in Texas occur, the 2018 Texas Maternal Mortality Review found.
In 2021, the Texas legislature passed a law to extend maternal health care coverage to 6 months postpartum effective Sept. 1, although experts expressed concern that still isn’t long enough for women to be adequately covered for the many health issues that can arise after giving birth. Parkland has seen these postpartum patients for a full year to ensure the best possible outcomes.
Responding to results of the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, Parkland launched eMCAP to help bridge the gap in care for mothers and babies living in parts of Dallas County that have had significant needs and, in some cases, became a health care desert.
“eMCAP offers a holistic approach to postpartum care by addressing physical, mental and environmental risks. It focuses on southern Dallas County ZIP codes with a higher number of women of color,” said Marjorie Quint-Bouzid, MPA, RN, NEA-BC, Parkland’s senior vice president of Women and Infants Specialty Health – known as WISH. “The program provides nurse home visits and frequent medical provider visits to fill in gaps related to inadequate care during the first year after birth which is a vulnerable period for maternal and infant mortality.”
To date, Parkland has enrolled more than 1,200 mothers in eMCAP.
Now, the Hope Supply Company has begun collaborating with Parkland by donating and distributing hundreds of “baby bundles” with diapers, baby wipes and other newborn supplies to mothers enrolled in eMCAP. The nonprofit provides products for the eMCAP-enrolled moms to take home from the hospital following delivery and facilitates distribution of supplies during the baby’s first year. Hope Supply has enlisted the help of area churches in target ZIP codes where the mothers reside to make it convenient for mothers to obtain the products.
Founded in 1989, the company has provided critically needed resources to homeless and at-risk children in North Texas, working with over 85 social service organizations and using bulk buying power and in-kind donations to supply basic needs and supplies for homeless and low-income infants, toddlers and school-age children. Hope Supply Co. has been a generous donor of baby supplies to families served by Parkland through the Healthy Start program, providing more than 5,000 diapers and other supplies last year.
“We are proud to extend help to women enrolled in eMCAP and promote a healthy first year for mothers and their infants,” said Barbara Johnson, CEO of Hope Supply Co. “Through this collaboration with Parkland we hope to help move the needle toward better health by providing critical newborn supplies for mothers during the first year after delivery,”
The supply company made its first delivery of hundreds of “baby bundles” for eMCAP-enrolled moms at Parkland Memorial Hospital in September and made a second delivery on Oct. 8. The first delivery to new mothers included necessary newborn care supplies like diapers, wipes and infant soothing supplies. In the future baby bundles will include selfcare supplies for moms.
“We are grateful to Hope Supply Co. for their generous support of the eMCAP initiative. We know we are making a huge difference in the lives of thousands of new mothers and babies like Funmilayo and Zoe in Dallas County,” Quint-Bouzid said.
“We know new mothers tend to put more attention into care for others than themselves. Healthy babies require physically and emotionally healthy mothers. These products are empowering women to attend to their own needs as well as their infant’s.”
More information about the supply company can be found at https://hopesupplyco.org. Additional information about WISH services, is available at https://www.parklandhospital.com.