â??Start Smartâ?? helps expecting moms deliver healthy babies

When her baby was born 14 weeks premature, Toledo mom Rebekah Simpson needed a plan for helping her new daughter grow stronger and healthier. Thanks to Buckeye Community Health Plan's Start Smart for Your Baby program, Simpson was able to get the resources she needed to meet baby Paisley's special needs.

According to Buckeye, the Start Smart program incorporates the concepts of case management, care coordination and disease management to ensure a healthy pregnancy and first year of life for babies. The program promotes education and communication between pregnant members, their case manager and physicians.

"It's really nice to have a resource to go to for anything you need, you don't have to be searching the Internet or anything, they just can help you with whatever program you need information on," Simpson said. "Anything you need, they're there for you and it's great just to have that resource."

Ohio's infant mortality rate is 7.7 deaths for every 1,000 babies born--higher than the national average of 6.7. Gov. John Kasich passed a resolution this year recognizing September as Infant Mortality Awareness month and October as SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in order to urge mothers-to-be to get help early on for healthy outcomes.

â??Ohio's infant mortality rate exceeds that of all of our surrounding states and continues to be higher than the national average," said Buckeye Community Health Plan's medical director, Dr. Brad Lucas. "Buckeye is trying to create healthy outcomes with its Start Smart for Your Baby Program by educating mothers about how to prevent preterm delivery, low birth weight and SIDS."

The programâ??s success depends on the Notification of Pregnancy process that identifies pregnant members and pinpoints their risk factors as early in pregnancy as possible. Once Buckeye members are enrolled the health plan helps foster the needed relationships between the mother and her care team.

"We hope we are empowering pregnant women to participate more in their care and learn about what they can do to help prevent preterm delivery, low birth weight and SIDS," Dr. Lucas said. "Early identification of pregnancy and proper care paths for those at risk are critical to success."

Simpson says Baby Paisley is healthy and happy thanks to the support she received from her doctors and Buckeye.

"She doesn't fuss about anything, I think she's been through so much and she's just right on track with everything and she's just a happy little girl," Simpson said. "It would not have been as easy to manage things without having a place to go to."

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