Making it to Birthday #1

UnitedHealth Group is a Fortune 5 company with more than 3,700 employees in Ohio, and serves as nearly 2 million Ohioans’ health benefits provider. UnitedHealth Group is committed to improving health outcomes for all Ohioans, and as a way of acting on that commitment, UnitedHealth Group has supported the Columbus-based CelebrateOne initiatve to combat infant mortality. As a result, CelebrateOne has been able to expand its reach thanks to a $1.7 million-dollar grant from the United Health Foundation.

As Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said at the outset of the program, “This money will help support CelebrateOne’s community connector core, a group of dedicated community health workers who will be our boots on the ground in the Columbus neighborhoods with high infant mortality rates across the city. Seventy two connector core workers will educate mothers-to-be, mothers and families reaching 27,000 women every year.” And that’s what has happened.

Erika Clark Jones, executive director of CelebrateOne said, “We recognize that for some women who are disconnected from services, that messenger is really important.” Community connectors, like Dolores Dawson, are helping neighborhoods most impacted by infant mortality by going door to door,

“helping women who are pregnant or have been pregnant, helping them with their kids and giving them all the resources and information that they need,”

she said. “You don’t want to see them sick. It hurts you to your heart when they’re sick. And not being able to live to see their first birthday is just tragic.”

The United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings report on the Health of Women and Children now ranks Ohio as 40th in the nation in infant mortality. This is an improvement from two years ago when Ohio ranked 44th on this measure. These gains are modest, but the trend for the entire state is now going in the right direction – and that is excellent news – but there is much work to be done on these complex and deeply rooted problems.