Press-Republican

October 2, 2012

Pregnant women receive support from Health Department

By JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County Health Department continues to offer a helping hand to expectant moms who may have questions or concerns about the pregnancy process from conception to delivery, and beyond.

Historically, the Health Department offered a program through the New York State Department of Health called the Medicaid Obstetrical and Maternal Services (MOMS) program.

However, when that program moved to a managed-care format in 2011, Clinton County chose to take on the responsibility for providing services for pregnant moms and created the Improved Pregnancy Outcome program to replace MOMS.

“It resembles the MOMS program, but it is entirely free with no link to insurance whatsoever,” said Suzanne LaBorde, a public health nurse for the Health Department who oversees the Improved Pregnancy Outcome program.

“This (program) is open to everyone in the county,” LaBorde said.

The concept has been used over the last several months to support extremely high-risk women with extreme needs, women with no health insurance or women who have psycho-social issues, she added.

But the Health Department is now seeking to expand its support to all first-time moms, particularly those who are 19 and younger or 40 and older, along with moms who are underweight or overweight or have gestational diabetes.

“One of our main emphases is to make sure pregnant moms receive early prenatal care to help reduce risks and to catch potential problems early,” LaBorde said.

“The state objective is to increase the percentage of women receiving early prenatal care during the first trimester to 90 percent,” she added, noting that Clinton County had nearly reached that mark at 89.7 percent in 2009, up from 86.3 percent in 2000.

The state average over the past decade has been in the mid-70 percent range.

A nurse from the Health Department will work closely with the pregnant mom to ensure the best possible pregnancy outcome. Nurses will meet at a time and place convenient for the expectant mom and will work closely with the client and health-care provider.

Nurses can also make referrals to other agencies as needed and teach new moms about pregnancy, giving birth, parenting and newborn care. The program also provides participants with dental and wellness kits.

“Sometimes a patient will feel more comfortable working one-on-one with a nurse in our program,” LaBorde said. “It allows the patient to feel safe and secure.

“The visits are tailored to the needs of each patient. Sometimes we’ll meet three times over a pregnancy, sometimes once a month.”

The program currently has between 30 and 40 active participants. When the Health Department was overseeing the MOMS program, nurses were working with about 50 percent of the 350 to 385 pregnant women in Clinton County each year.

“We want to increase our program to get back to those numbers,” LaBorde said. “Our numbers are good (for pregnant moms receiving early medical care), but we don’t want to see those numbers slide in the other direction.”

New moms who do not receive early medical care often deliver their babies prematurely, and the infants typically suffer with low birth weights.

The program has four full-time nurses and three part-time nurse’s assistants.

Email Jeff Meyers:

jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

TO LEARN MORE For more information on the Improved Pregnancy Outcome program, call the Clinton County Health Department at 565-4848 or visit www.clintonhealth.org. The building blocks for a health pregnancy include: ▶ Having regular medical care beginning early in the pregnancy. ▶ Eating a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and meats. ▶ Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, drugs and smoking. ▶ Making choices that have long-lasting effects on you and your baby.