CHEVERLY, Md. (March 22, 2010) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown announced a $250,000 grant for the Tapestry Program in Cheverly to prevent infant mortality in vulnerable Prince George’s County communities. The Lt. Governor was joined at the announcement by members of the Maryland Women’s Caucus, the Prince George’s County General Assembly delegation, state and county health officials, representatives from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and health advocates from across the state. Last year, Governor Martin O’Malley announced a strategic goal to reduce infant mortality by 10 percent before 2012.
“Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in America. We have the best public schools and the most professional workforce. It is simply unacceptable that we rank in the bottom half of states when it comes to infant mortality,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Governor O’Malley and I are fully committed to reducing infant mortality across the state and especially in our most vulnerable communities. Programs like the Tapestry Program give expectant mothers better access to pre- and post-natal care and teach them the skills to raise healthy and active children.”
“Our challenge is great but the goal is clear; every pregnant woman must get the health care she needs so that every child has a healthy start in life,” said John M. Colmers, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The Tapestry program's collaborative approach to enveloping at-risk pregnancies in care and services will save and enrich lives, especially those lives that are just beginning.”
The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission awarded the $250,000 grant to the Prince George’s County Health Department for its Tapestry Program – a model prenatal care program based in Cheverly. The Tapestry Program features ‘high-touch’ prenatal care from nurse-midwives supported with ‘high-tech’ consultation from maternal-fetal medicine specialists from University of Maryland. This program will increase the county’s capacity for providing prenatal care to low- and high-risk women, ensuring that babies in Prince George’s County are born healthy.
“Increasing the number of women who are able to obtain prenatal care during the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy, and receive specialty high risk obstetrical care when needed are both critical to increase the number of healthy babies born in Prince George’s County,” said Donald Shell, M.D., M.A., Health Officer for Prince George’s County. “Our comprehensive Healthy Women Healthy Lives obstetrical initiative now has the capacity to accomplish both of these critical objectives.”
“Prince George's County has tremendous health care needs,” said former Delegate John A. Hurson, Chairman of the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission. “This proposal will help expand access to prenatal and high-risk consultative services for the women and families of Prince George's County.”
Maryland ranks 39th in the country in infant mortality and despite a 37 percent decline from 1982 to 2000, studies show virtually no change in the state’s infant mortality rates in the last decade. In addition, there is a significant racial disparity in infant mortality. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, an African American infant was 260 percent more likely to die than a white infant. Prince George’s County reports the highest infant mortality rate in the state. In 2007, Prince George’s County accounted for nearly a quarter of the state’s infant deaths.
“It is an honor to stand with the Governor and Lt. Governor on this important issue for Maryland women and children. We are hopeful that this effort to reduce infant mortality is successful,” said Delegate Sue Kullen, President of the Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly, Inc.
Since taking office in 2007, the O’Malley-Brown administration has invested $3 million in the Babies Born Healthy Initiative. The initiative, of which the Tapestry Program is a part, expands maternal and child health services through the support of collaborative projects in Baltimore, Charles, Prince George’s and Wicomico Counties, as well as Baltimore City. It has provided assistance to women seeking prenatal care services and mobilized community coalitions in Baltimore City and the Washington Metro Region. The initiative partnered with the Maryland Patient Safety Center to improve the standards of prenatal care in Maryland birthing hospitals and worked closely with the University of Maryland to high-risk women with pregnancy consultation. Finally, the initiative is currently implementing a new electronic birth certificate to improve data collected on birth outcomes.
“We are very excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with the DHMH, the Governor's office, the CHRC and the Prince George's County Health Department in this important initiative,” said Dr. Hugh Mighty, Chair of OB/GYN Reproductive Science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The key concept driving this High-Tech, High-Touch Tapestry prenatal care model is to expand access to prenatal services to women who are currently underserved by strategically allocating limited resources based on risk. This will be accomplished by a program of midwifery-led care backed up by perinatologists – maternal-fetal-medicine sub-specialists.”
Lt. Governor Brown leads the O’Malley-Brown administration’s efforts on health care and is championing legislation this session that will improve the quality of health care for all Marylanders.