Blues Babies & Beyond: A Joint Commitment to Reduce Infant Mortality

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UTHSC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation (THF) are pleased to announce a new collaboration titled, “Blues Babies & Beyond.”

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation (THF) are pleased to announce a new collaboration titled, “Blues Babies & Beyond.” The project serves as a transition for UTHSC and THF as they extend their joint commitment to the existing participants of the Blues Project infant mortality initiative. Through Blues Babies & Beyond, UTHSC and THF are continuing to provide outreach services to women and children who enrolled in Phase III of The Blues Project in 2010. THF funding for Blues Babies & Beyond will continue through April 2012.

“The goal of Blues Babies & Beyond is to decrease primary risk factors for infant mortality through education, social support, and effective utilization of community resources,” stated Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at UTHSC. To achieve these goals, the project will continue to provide efficient and cost-effective early onset and comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care to at-risk pregnant women in Memphis (Shelby County) and Chattanooga (Hamilton County), Tenn. “The focus will be on the health care and psychological needs of program participants and their children,” Dr. Brown added.

“We are committed to focusing on infant mortality to improve the care of infants and pregnant women in Tennessee,” observed Kathy H. Bingham, THF’s manager. “We are pleased that the UT Health Science Center was able to thoughtfully and quickly develop an alternative initiative to extend our partnership to fight high infant mortality rates in our state. We look forward to working with and through UTHSC to make a lasting, positive difference in the lives of at-risk women and children in Memphis and Chattanooga.”

At its core, Blues Babies & Beyond is an outreach program that will not include the delivery of any medical services by UTHSC staff, unless participants select UT Ob/Gyn providers for their medical care. Currently there are 131 women enrolled in the Memphis program (75 have delivered their babies) and 72 women enrolled in Chattanooga (47 have delivered their babies). The program participants are being served by a dozen UTHSC team members who staff Blues Babies & Beyond. Only the project sites listed below, which have served Blues Project Phase III participants, will be included in the new collaboration.

The Memphis Health Center and Christ Community Health Center, Frayser, Tenn. (Shelby County)
Southside and Dodson Avenue Community Health Centers, Chattanooga, Tenn. (Hamilton County)
Methodist Hospital South, Memphis, Tenn. (Shelby County)
MedPlex Ob/Gyn Clinics, Memphis, Tenn. (Shelby County)

Through Blues Babies & Beyond, participants will benefit from:
Community Outreach support through churches, schools and other organizations to heighten awareness of health and social risk factors relevant to infant mortality, as well as protective factors associated with improvements in maternal and child health;
Transportation services arranged through designated managed care providers, BlueCare and/or AmeriChoice;
Case Management to address medical concerns and needs; provide counseling and referrals; assist with scheduling medical appointments and follow up, plus the creation and maintenance of a case management database;
Patient Education with comprehensive curriculum that includes modules on the pregnancy process (conception to delivery); life skills; maternal and infant health and well-being; social and community interactions, and postpartum care and wellness;
Incentives to enhance retention rates.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) foundation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee by awarding grants focused on high impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. THF, working with civic and economic partners, is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.