NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Kim Roundtree couldn’t wait to lay eyes on her baby girl Maryella, born on January 14.
“I even like cried when I seen her, the first time I saw her,” she recalled.
But as a first-time mom, Roundtree wanted to make sure her daughter was born healthy and happy. That’s why she turned to New Haven Healthy Start.
“The infant mortality rate in New Haven mirrors the nation, so in our nation, black babies die two-and-a-half times the rate of white babies,” said Kenn Harris, Director of the program. “Healthy Start is a federal initiative to address infant mortality and it really focuses on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities on birth outcomes.”
Healthy Start has care coordinators like Sandra Hanley stationed at health centers across the community.
“What we do is to make sure that clients who enroll get connected to resources and services in the community, so they can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy outcome,” Hanley explained.
Those resources range from medical specialists, to mental health providers, childcare, housing services, transportation and more.
“We also work very closely with their providers and other care coordinators here at the hospital, so if a patient missed like her second appointment, I would get a call sometimes or email saying, ‘This person didn’t show up for their second appointment. Can you try to touch base with them?’ and that’s what we’ll try to do,” Hanley said.
And it’s not just women who are getting help. The program also offers services to fathers.
“We have a fatherhood program here in New Haven that we actually do in partnership with a community agency, New Haven Family Alliance, and also Community Action Agency, where we actually have male workers at these institutions, so should a male partner of our women need services, they’re able to get connected,” Harris explained.
Since Healthy Start was founded in 1997, infant mortality rates in New Haven have dropped by more than half, and for Healthy Start babies, the rate is now below state and national averages.
“Sandra, she’s been helpful to me since I’ve been in the program,” Roundtree said.
For moms like her, Healthy Start is a priceless gift.
“Especially if you’re a first time mother like myself, you should start up with the program,” Roundtree said. “It helps.”
New Haven Healthy Start follows the women up until their child is about two years old. To learn more, visit NHHealthyStart.org.