Women’s and Children’s Health Services celebrates improved maternal and birth outcomes with week of events

Women’s and Children’s Health Services in Delaware County believes it takes a village to help a mother birth a healthy baby.

During the week of September 11th they thanked various members of their village by hosting a week-long series of events to celebrate twenty-five years of serving and partnering with families to help the youngest citizens get off to the best possible start in life.

“You don’t reach that landmark successfully without partnering with other organizations,” said Katie Kenyon, Community Development Coordinator. “It’s all about the relationships for me whether it’s for providers and families or organizations together.”

Since 1992, Women’s and Children’s Health Services in Delaware County have improved maternal and birth outcomes and contributed to a significant reduction in the disparate infant mortality and morbidity rate in the City of Chester. In 1995, Chester had an infant mortality rate of 22 infant deaths per 1000 babies born. In addition, babies born in Chester were three times more likely to die than babies born elsewhere in Delaware County. The most recent data from 2014 shows that the Infant Mortality and Morbidity Rate in Chester is down to 14.9 in 1000.

Founded and run by the Crozer-Keystone Health System for 25 years, the Women’s & Children’s Health Services are now under the umbrella of the new Crozer-Keystone Community Foundation (CKCF). Formed from the sale of the health system, CKCF celebrated partners including the many case managers, nurses, social workers, health educators and lawyers who have worked with thousands of families to identify needs, resolve problems, connect to community resources, provided information and education, and helped families to become self-sufficient.

“The Crozer-Keystone Community Foundation is brand new but the programs we’ve inherited are celebrating 25 years of impact and progress for thousands of vulnerable families in Delaware County,” said Frances Sheehan, president of the Foundation. “We are honored to carry on the legacy established by these programs and look forward to being even more impactful in the future.”

With gold standard programs like Healthy Start, the Nurse-Family Partnership, Cribs for Kids and the Center for Hispanic Resources, hundreds of families each year receive home visiting case management and personal nurse services, legal advocacy, services for Spanish speaking families and parenting and health education. WCHS provides home visiting case management and nurse programs to women during pregnancy and with children under the age of two.

“These are evidenced based programs,” explained Joanne Craig, Vice President for Programs. “A lot of effort has been invested to be sure they are using the right strategies and approaches. These are programs that work on the strengths of families and help meet their areas of need, to connect to resources, and to work toward self sufficiency.”

For Craig, developing, implementing and championing Healthy Start has been a labor of love. She started Women’s and Children’s Health Services and it grew out of the understanding that women are the decision makers in their families and the ones making connections to meet their needs. When Craig started the program, she figured it would be around for a little while but it became clear there was plenty of work to do to support families over the long haul. The most satisfying aspect of her work, she says, is seeing healthy babies and parents know exactly what they need to do to be supportive of their child.

The village is doing its job in helping mother’s birth healthy babies. Since 2011, there have been no infant deaths among Healthy Start participants. Also, there have been no maternal deaths among Healthy Start participants over the past ten years.

Joanne Craig and Katie Kenyon at the Baby’s 1st Community Action Network Meeting on Tuesday at Chester’s City Hall Community Room.

Joanne Craig and Katie Kenyon at the Baby’s 1st Community Action Network Meeting on Tuesday at Chester’s City Hall Community Room.

Joanne Craig, Vice President for Programs, discussed the evidence-based programs.

Joanne Craig, Vice President for Programs, discussed the evidence-based programs.

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