When it comes to maternal and infant health, the statistics for Black, Brown and rural birthing parents are dismal. But one statistic is particularly disturbing: 82% of pregnancy-related deaths are determined to be preventable (DHSS). 

With help from a REACH Healthcare Foundation grant, Altruism Media, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) community-based nonprofit, is poised to address maternal and infant health with an aptly-named program called The MaIH Project. The program employs targeted advocacy and outreach, with messaging in English and Spanish, to reach birthing parents in rural Lafayette County in Missouri, and the Kansas City metro area.

“We put a lot of intentionality behind our advocacy and outreach campaign,” said Altruism Media CEO Tonia Wright. “We want birthing parents to see themselves in this campaign and feel at ease about asking for help. Having a healthy perinatal, delivery, and postpartum takes a village. The MaIH Project intends to remain with its clients at least 12 months after delivery to provide support and assistance.”

The program isn’t designed to provide direct health care services; instead, it seeks collaborative partnerships to close the gaps between health care and social care services. With help from its community health workers, The MaIH Project leverages a concerted and sustained advocacy and outreach campaign that reaches birthing parents who are screened using the PRAPARE assessment tool, thanks to a partnership with Unite Us, a social care technology platform. PRAPARE stands for Protocol for Responding to and Addressing Patient Assets, Risks, and Experiences, and is used as a standardized tool for collecting social determinants of health data to better serve community populations and assess needs. With this tool, community health workers also help clients determine eligibility and enroll in safety net programs, connect them with transportation, childcare, utility assistance and other social supports, while making referrals to health care providers to establish a continuum of care.

Health care referrals go beyond traditional maternity care to also include connections to doulas and midwives, maternal mental health services, substance use disorder counseling and treatment, and even canna-doula support for clients who self-report that they use marijuana to cope with morning sickness and other pregnancy-related conditions. This is an important aspect of the program as Black birthing parents are drug tested at higher rates, sometimes leading to family separation.

“We understand that health equity begins with the very first encounter,” Wright said. “For us, it starts with advocacy and outreach and extends through every communication with the client, and encompasses all of our referral organizations. Our desire is to eliminate, to the extent we can, the barriers many birthing parents face when it comes to seeking care that’s culturally responsive and compassionate – regardless of race, citizenship, native tongue, socioeconomic status, and gender identity. Our community health worker team will stand in the gaps with clients to help them get their needs met in a way that prioritizes health and racial equity, respect, and compassion.”

Individuals participating in The MaIH Project can opt into educational programs that include everything from understanding the benefits of breastfeeding, to how to mitigate health risks by counting their baby’s kicks, and how to effectively communicate with health care providers and advocate for their health.

“We can’t thank REACH Healthcare enough for the grant award to help us implement this program,” Wright said. “We are a new nonprofit, and to have their support and vote of confidence – out-of-the-gate – is tremendous. Thanks to REACH, we are off to a great start.”

To learn more about The MaIH Project, or to ask about partnership opportunities, contact Tonia Wright at 844.860.0111, email tonia@altruism-media.org, or visit altruism-media.org.

About Altruism Media, Inc.

Altruism Media, Inc.’s underpinnings in health care and social care marketing, advocacy, and programming started 15 years ago with our for-profit sister company, Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc. After years of providing many of our services noncommissioned, we saw a need to design a nonprofit that served as a partner to other nonprofits to fill in the marketing, advocacy, and programming gaps. The goal is to create healthier communities by intersecting health care and social care in a manner that seamlessly addresses unmet needs.  Altruism Media, Inc. provides marketing services, advocacy campaigns, and program development to bolster whole-person care. We approach this work compassionately through a health equity lens.