SIKESTON - When you're bringing a new life into the world, countless questions arise. And when it's a high risk pregnancy, concerns heighten.
Health departments throughout Missouri are reaching out to help women reduce infant mortality, low birth weight and the inadequate prenatal care rate through the Prenatal Case Management Program.
The program assists women eligible for MC + or temporary Medicaid gain access to needed medical, social and educational services.
"The main thing we provide is education," said Stacey Dame, social worker at the Scott County Health Department. "We educate the women about what's going on with them and the baby and anything related to the pregnancy. Right now I have 28 clients who are ages 12 to 39 but it can be any woman who is pregnant and at high risk. What I do as case manager is follow the client through the pregnancy. I make contact once a month with the client face to face, on the phone or through a home visit. I'm just there to help the client with anything she needs, whether it's physical or psychological."
The case manager also provides information on parenting education, childbirth classes and immunizations. Women enrolled in the program must work with the case manager to develop a plan for their health care needs and provide the physician's name, appointment dates and progress noted at visits.
A risk appraisal is conducted to identify pregnant women who have or may develop certain risk factors related to physical, psychosocial, developmental, and/or environmental problems.
Maybe the women are under 17 at the time of conception, have less than an eighth grade education or they smoke, Dame gave as some examples of the 34 at-risk factors. Others include pregnant women with diabetes, hypertension, currently taking medication for another condition and previous problem pregnancies.
Following the appraisal, a care plan is developed as guidance for the client's education. Enrollment is accepted anytime during the pregnancy.
One of the most important aspects of the program is providing support to the expectant mother and her unborn child. Discharge from the program is usually 60 days after delivery, with additional follow-up available upon client request.
"This program is very important for women who are at risk," Dame said. "We work with them in everything, including providing support, finding them transportation to and from the doctor's office and referring them to the appropriate agencies as needed.
"Our goal in case management is that these women have healthier babies and by having healthier babies they are in the hospital a lot less time and that saves the tax payers thousands of dollars."
For more information on the Prenatal Case Management Program contact Dame at 471-4044.