Pictured: Assistant Professor Christine Hartford examining a young patient.
NYITCOM-Arkansas faculty Christine Hartford, M.D., assistant professor, and Jennifer Conner, Dr.PH., associate professor and deputy director of the Delta Population Health Institute (DPHI), have received a $10,000 Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) Implementation grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to address the health of mothers and infants living in rural Arkansas through education, connection to services, and collection of data.
“Infant mortality rates in Arkansas are among the highest in the nation, and the Delta has the highest rates of any region in our country, making this one of the most pressing child healthcare issues in our part of the state,” said Hartford. “Community outreach programs can lead to significant change and improve health outcomes, and that’s exactly what we aim to accomplish through this project.”
Hartford and Conner, along with volunteer medical students from NYITCOM-Arkansas, will conduct group prenatal visits in an underserved community in the Delta region of Arkansas. Visits will include interactive educational sessions that will cover important topics for pregnant women and new mothers, with a focus on improving infant health such as breastfeeding, safe sleep, maternal depression, healthy maternal behaviors, and vaccinations.
Participants will also receive informational packets as well as a list of local resources specific to the community in which they live.
The project will help provide prenatal education to pregnant women, a gap that some mothers in the Delta may experience due to the lack of access to healthcare, insurance and education, as well as poverty and food insecurity, among others.
The NYITCOM and DPHI teams hope to help program participants learn about and understand factors that are important to their infant’s health. The project will also inform mothers of relevant resources in their area for both themselves and their infants and help connect them to services as needed.
The CATCH program, a flagship initiative of the AAP, supports pediatricians and residents to collaborate within their communities to advance the health of all children.
“As a pediatrician, I’m extremely passionate about the health of children, and I’m honored to have an opportunity to take on such a worthwhile project,” Hartford said. “I’m grateful that the AAP recognizes the importance of addressing this issue in our state, and I’m humbled at the opportunity to help lead such a project.”
By Casey Pearce