|US Rep. Kathy Castor Visits All Children’s for a Healthy Start Update|
U.S. Representative Kathy Castor visited All Children's Hospital on Thursday, May 15 to get an update on the status on the St. Petersburg Federal Healthy Start Grant that has been in existence for 17 years.
The grant is in the process of transitioning from the leadership of the Pinellas County Health Department to All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Representative Castor thanked the group for all their efforts. "I'm so proud of all the work you've done. You've obviously set the standard in the State of Florida. There's something a little bit different about St. Petersburg because it's on a peninsula and kind of isolated. I want to encourage you all to keep at it. It's bigger than just the health issues, it's the social issues, too."
This is a grant funded program sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Division Healthy Start and Perinatal Services. The grant is designed to improve perinatal health outcomes and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in perinatal health outcomes by using community-based approaches to service delivery, and to facilitate access to comprehensive health and social services for women, infants, and their families.
If funded, the 2014-2019 period will be the fifth cycle since 1997 and continues the investment in services in southern St. Petersburg. During this cycle, the grantee will transition from the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County to the All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"We are continuing this partnership," said Cindy Rose, All Children's Vice President of Marketing, Branding and Community Relations. "We know that we can't have one organization without the other. We are bridging the community and the medical component. We believe this gives us a much stronger opportunity to make a difference in the community. We have made great strides, but we know we still have a lot of work to do."
Dr. Claude Dharamraj, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, gave the congresswoman a detailed history of the Federal Healthy Start program in Pinellas County. Dr. Dharamraj credits the support of All Children's Hospital and Bill Horton, ACH Sr. Vice President of Strategic Business Services, with the success of the St. Petersburg Healthy Start initiative.
"We have targeted a specific area in south St. Petersburg and will serve primarily African American women and their families residing in six zip codes," added Dr. Sheila Devanesan. "This represents approximately 15 per cent of the population of Pinellas County. The project area had a combined three-year infant mortality rate during 2007-2009 of 16.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, which exceeds the national rate of 9.9 deaths per 1,000 live births."
"When you work with a community based program, it's not just about the geographical location of the population you serve, " said Kimberly Brown-Williams, Community Services Supervisor for the St. Petersburg Healthy Start Project, based at All Children's Hospital. "You must be knowledgeable about how the clients see the issues. I don't see the consumer as a number; it's the people who are receiving the services that are benefiting the most. We won't change things overnight. We really plant seeds and watch them nurture and grow. That makes the real difference in this program."