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Natchez chosen to participate in infant, maternal health program

NATCHEZ — A national organization has chosen Natchez to participate in an infant and maternal health program.

Natchez will be one of 40 participants in Square Roots’ BIRTH 40: The Coalition of Cities Improving Birth, a four-year, $4.15 million commitment intended to improve services to pregnant women across the United States.

Square Roots Principal Neha Dubli said the organization has invited Natchez to join the initiative partly because of the city’s ongoing participation in another Square Roots program called Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies.

The Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program is a mentoring service for pregnant women and mothers of young babies. Natchez began participating in the program in January.

“Square Roots has a vested interest in the development of the city of Natchez, and we were eager to have Natchez as an inaugural city within the BIRTH 40 network,” Dubli said.

The BIRTH 40 initiative is a much larger program, Dubli said, and is intended to serve not only the patients but also the local governments of its member cities.

“(The program is intended) to let cities take ownership of maternal health in their jurisdiction,” Dubli said. “And allows expectant mothers to see what quality of care they will get.”

Square Roots intends to add 10 additional member cities each year. Local governments are not asked to provide any matching funds to be members of the initiative.

As a member of BIRTH 40, Natchez will receive a rating for the quality of its maternal healthcare, which will be posted on the online BIRTH 40 database.

As Square Roots is assessing the quality of care in Natchez, it will also develop a plan to improve local care, based on the city’s needs.

“You can’t just go in giving solutions that aren’t applicable to their needs,” Dubli said. “(BIRTH 40 is) tailored to what the city wants and needs, and providing solutions off of that.”

Natchez city officials will have access to the database and will be invited to participate in local cross-city summits to develop ideas for improving the area’s maternal care.

“Interacting with other cities allows them to gain knowledge and other resources as well,” Dubli said. “This is not only important for maternal outcomes, but empowering the city and the mother and defining what a healthy birth really is.”

Pregnant women in Natchez will also have access to the online tools, which include an educational birth-plan creator.

The initiative was launched earlier this month at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Atlanta. Natchez Mayor-elect Darryl Grennell attended the conference, and said he is excited about the possible impact of the program.

“I think it’s going to have a positive impact on Natchez and Adams County,” Grennell said. “I think it’s going to help a whole lot of families.”

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