IBJ Podcast: Program hopes to reduce infant mortality in Indy by focusing on housing

Recent studies from across the country have helped solidify the link between housing instability—for example, substandard conditions, homelessness or needing to move regularly—and poor infant health. In a pilot program based in Ohio called Healthy Beginnings at Home, organizers wanted to test the impact of providing pregnant women struggling to find stable homes with rental assistance and other services to secure their housing situations. In the group of mothers in the pilot program, there were no infant deaths, and there were more full-term healthy births than in a control group. The pilot group also saw shorter stays in neonatal intensive care and a reduced need for emergency health care.

The Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI has received a five-year, $2.4 million federal grant to launch an initiative to reduce Indianapolis’ infant mortality rate. And it specifically will address housing instability. Called the Housing Equity for Infant Health Initiative, the program will provide support for pregnant women and mothers with infants under 1 year old. The organizers then will evaluate the program’s impact on birth outcomes and health care costs.

CareSource, a not-for-profit that provides health care insurance coverage through public programs including Medicaid and Medicare, was a key participant in the Ohio-based pilot of Healthy Beginnings at Home. It is also a key player in bringing Healthy Beginnings at Home to this Initiative in Indianapolis. A second major piece of the initiative is focused on health justice. Led by the Indiana Justice Project, it will combine legal education, direct legal services, strategic litigation, and advocacy to improve both housing stability and housing conditions for pregnant Hoosiers.

In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, host Mason King digs into the details with two guests: Dr. Cameual Wright, an OBGYN and vice president and market chief medical officer with CareSource; and Jack E. Turman Jr. He’s the director of the Housing Equity for Infant Health Initiative and the Grassroots Maternal and Child Health Initiative, as well as a professor in the Fairbanks School of Public Health. They cover the link between unstable housing and poor infant health, the difficulty in quantifying the extent of the problem, and the hope that the initiative will lead to larger efforts across the state.

Click here to find the IBJ Podcast each Monday. You can also subscribe at iTunesGoogle PlayTune In, Spotify and anyplace you find podcasts.

You can also listen to these recent episodes:

IBJ Podcast: GangGang’s founders on promoting art, equity and Indy culture

IBJ Podcast: Butler’s Barry Collier on longevity, competing in Big East and hiring Thad Matta

IBJ Podcast: How Hotel Tango went from Fletcher Place to 25 states

IBJ Podcast: Indianapolis, suburbs banding together to seek more state funding for local roads

IBJ Podcast: Indiana Fever’s president on team’s 5-31 season and strategy for rebuilding

Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.

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