Working together on infant mortality in Forest Park

The Cincinnati/Hamilton County Ohio Equity Institute (OEI) team is partnering with the Forest Park Women’s Center to provide education aimed at improving infant mortality rates in the 45240 zip code.

In June, OEI Peer Advocate Alexia Ball led two education sessions for expecting parents at the Women’s Center on W. Kemper Road. One class focused on safe infant sleep practices (read what one couple learned here). The second class walked participants through goal setting and life planning. It also included a mindful eating exercise conducted by Andrea Liptak, RD, LD of Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH).

Expecting parents participate in mindful eating exercise involving an orange.

Leah Steverson, MSW, LSW, manager of the Women’s Center, has received positive feedback from clients about the OEI classes. “It’s information that they were not aware of, particularly about SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome],” she said. “They were just excited to learn how to keep their babies safe. A lot of them are first time parents and that can be a little overwhelming… I think it just put their minds at ease.”

Participants took home lots of resource materials. Those needing a safe place for their baby to sleep were eligible to receive a free Pack N’ Play portable crib from OEI. In the safe sleep class, they learn how to set up and take down the Pack N’ Play, which along with a traditional crib is the safest place for infants to sleep. “OEI will keep Pack N’ Plays at the Women’s Center for Forest Park parents who complete a safe sleep training and don’t have a safe sleep environment for their baby,” said Sydney Battle, MPH, CHES, OEI coordinator with HCPH.

Alexia Ball shows how a Pack N’ Play is a safe place for infants to sleep.

Sydney says the partnership will continue. “Leah has also been a great support in the planning of the upcoming Community Baby Shower we will be hosting in Forest Park,” she said. The Baby Shower will be held on September 22 from 11am-1pm at the Head Start Program Center on Waycross Road.

The OEI classes and events like the Baby Shower foster a sense of community, Leah says, and show her clients that “they are not alone in bringing a new child into the world in the most healthy way possible.”

“It’s a huge blessing to be able to partner with OEI,” Leah said. “Because I think teamwork makes the dream work!”

OEI is a statewide program—run locally by Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH)—to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality. HCPH works with Cradle Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Health Department to implement and support infant mortality initiatives in the 45240 and 45225 zip code areas.

(Pictured in top photo: Alexia Ball (left) and Leah Steverson.)