As a mom and director of Maternal and Child Health at Community of Hope, I’ve been reflecting on the healthy start that I work towards for my children and for the community around me. Too often, I’ve observed that it’s hard for people living in under-resourced communities to have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Historic inequities and ensuing disparities in access have contributed to these areas having high mortality rates for Black mothers and babies. 

At Community of Hope, we offer Healthy Start for families. This federal grant-funded program, awarded to DC Health and sub-awarded to Community of Hope, is available for District residents and aims to improve health outcomes before, during, and after pregnancy, and reduce racial/ethnic differences in rates of infant death and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The program accomplishes this by focusing on providing care coordination support to those communities that have the highest rates of infant mortality and poor maternal health outcomes in the District, helping to strengthen linkages to care and birthing support.
The Healthy Start program at Community of Hope brings together Perinatal Care Coordination and Doula services with our high-quality Midwifery and OB care and is offered specifically to families who live in Wards 5, 7 and 8. Our families in these areas are often long-term residents of DC who have lived here for generations and are rooted in the community. They are resilient in many ways. But unfortunately, the areas they call home are challenged with higher levels of maternal mortality and morbidity, as well as infant mortality. Healthy Start offers specialized support designed to address these disparities in health outcomes by helping bridge historic gaps in access through the provision of perinatal care coordination support and evidence-based Doula services.
Healthy Start works to assure access to culturally competent, family-centered, and comprehensive health and social services for women, infants, and their families, like Deette Henry. Deette and her family receive medical care at Community of Hope’s Family Health and Birth Center in Ward 5 and entered the Healthy Start program in 2020 at the start of her second pregnancy with her son. “[Community of Hope’s staff and providers] make me feel welcome. They treat us good. Everyone knows us,” said Deette. Deette was assigned a Perinatal Care Coordinator who ensured she received the support she needed during pregnancy and the postpartum period through services such as CenteringPregnancy®, home visiting, referrals to other critical family support services, and basic wellness check-ins that helped mom and baby stay up to date with health appointments and visits. “We don’t talk all the time but when I do need something, she [care coordinator] is available to help.”
Community of Hope has partnered with DC Health on the Healthy Start program since May 2020. Since then, we have served 228 participants (birthing parents, fathers/partners, and children). We want our Healthy Start participants to feel prepared as parents to support the health, growth, and development of their babies. We are committed to serving young families to make sure moms and babies get a healthy start. Our team provides a whole range of prenatal care and supportive services for your whole family.
Highlights of our services include midwives and OB providers, doula services, referrals to home visiting, free rides to OB appointments, 24-hour medical advice, care coordination, health education, CenteringPregnancy sessions, breastfeeding support, and parenting classes including support services for partners and fathers. We have room for your family. Call 202.540.9857 to secure a Healthy Start today.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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