Altruism Media, Inc., (DBA Altruism, Inc.) a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is working to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in rural Missouri. Last summer, it launched a program called The Maternal and Infant Health (MaIH) Project that focuses on social determinants of health and other factors that make having a healthy pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum challenging. With a successful demonstration of the program in the Kansas City area, Altruism has brought The MaIH Project to Lafayette County and surrounding areas. This includes the grand opening of a new pregnancy center, The MaIH Center, that offers prenatal care and pregnancy support with help from midwives, doulas, and community health workers (CHWs). The MaIH Center is located at 721 S. Business Highway in Lexington. Its doors open on November 28, 2022 – on GivingTuesday. Services are offered by appointment only.
“Fourteen rural hospitals have closed in recent years, and with those closures came tremendous gaps in obstetric care for pregnant women and birthing people,” said Tonia Wright, Altruism’s CEO. “The MaIH Center will address those gaps by providing access to certified midwives who can provide prenatal exams. Additionally, doulas will provide a cadre of educational programs that include everything from birth planning, to car seat safety training, to informed consent to help birthing people understand their medical rights and how to self-advocate. Doulas will also provide support during labor and delivery. Thanks to our philanthropic partners, Health Forward Foundation and REACH Healthcare all services are provided free of charge.”
With help from community-based partnerships, The MaIH Center also provides:
- Free diapers and pull-ups, through a partnership with Happy Bottoms.
- Perinatal and postpartum screenings for social care needs, substance use, and mental health support among other risk factors.
- Access to mental health providers via private, telehealth appointments at the Center.
- Food is Medicine support for birthing people tackling obesity and other chronic diseases. This support includes access to a nutritionist who will help design tailored meals. Clients shop online for groceries, free of charge, and those items are delivered directly to their home.
- Breastfeeding and lactation education and support.
- Enrollment assistance for Medicaid, TANF, and other social services with help from CHWs.
- Ongoing case management until at least one year postpartum.
- Clothing for infants and children.
“We push hard for people to enroll into Medicaid to increase access to care – and this is something that we should be doing,” Wright said. “The fact that birthing people with Medicaid-covered pregnancies have a 10 times higher pregnancy-associated mortality rate than their peers with private insurance is sobering. The majority of our clients will be insured through Medicaid or not at all. That means we have to provide a level of care and wraparound support to offset gaps in care that often lead to adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.”
Wright said services offered at The MaIH Center are designed to be compassionate and equity-focused. This means customizing care to meet the intricate needs of each individual. As for the area’s migrant population, a Spanish-speaking doula is available to meet their needs.
“The MaIH Center is something new and innovative,” Wright said. “Birthing people living in this area can receive perinatal care early, and close to home. For those in the postpartum phase, often referred to as the fourth trimester, they also have a safe, welcoming place to continue to receive services. This is important because 77% of maternal mortality cases in Missouri happen between 43 days and 1 year after a person gives birth. With that said, the support – even after birth – needs to remain consistent, available, responsive, compassionate, and culturally congruent. That is exactly what we aim to provide.”
An open house will be held at The MaIH Center on Wednesday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. For more information or to make an appointment, call 660.259.2402, text 844.860.0111, TheMaIHCenter.org.