According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. In 2020, Ohio had an infant death rate of 6.7 per 1,000 live births. Ohio had 865 infant deaths that year.
This isn’t new for Ohio. For a while now, our state has been struggling to lower the infant death rate, but we have had little luck. However, with the start of a new program earlier this year, there is hope that maternal care will improve and the number of infant deaths will decrease.
Improving health care
On January 23, 2023 Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran released a statement introducing a new program to help improve maternal and infant health. The program, called Comprehensive Maternal Care, CMC, is a state-wide initiative that will be implemented at the community level, aimed at helping infants, mothers and families covered by Medicaid.
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Last August, Ohio’s Department of Medicaid held a webinar sharing the reasons for CMC and the ideas behind the program. Women around the state, but specifically in areas that had Medicaid-funded organizations, shared what they felt were the main barriers for improving healthcare. The main problems that came up in the discussion included a lack of trust in the healthcare system, as well as a lack of communication and empathy from providers. They also found social support, resources in the community and Medicaid coverage for alternative services all to be lacking. These barriers are what CMC is hoping to address.
The vision for CMC
According to Governor DeWine’s press release about CMC, the vision is “to promote customized, high-quality, continuous and comprehensive equitable care.” The program creates a framework for healthcare providers and community partners to work together to create a more person-centered approach. This allows for more customized interventions to help support women who historically lacked access to high-quality healthcare.
Comprehensive Maternal Care is a state-wide initiative, but the implementation really comes down to the communities and healthcare providers within those communities. Every community is different, so there will likely be a variety of goals and approaches.
Role of the healthcare provider
For a healthcare facility to participate in CMC, they will be required to create opportunities for patients to share firsthand accounts of their experience. The facility asks about their patient’s experience with accessing care, the cultural understanding of the provider, and the communication between provider and patient. Then the practice uses that input to help improve the patient experience and to help reduce disparities. Practices will also link patients to resources that help with housing, food instability, and transportation.
CMC is working to reach many eligible healthcare organizations, and hopes the incentives for the healthcare providers to join the cause will help generate interest. Practices joining CMC gain a number of benefits including networking, a chance to influence program updates, and funding. Promedica Central Physicians, LLC and Toledo Hospital have already joined CMC.