New Prenatal Program for South L.A. Expectant Mothers

Expectant mothers in South Los Angeles can look forward to a new model of healthcare thanks to a $2 million-grant recently received by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

According to Dr. Erin Saleeby, the Director of Women’s Health Programs and Innovations for the Department of Health Services, African Americans and Latinas in South Los Angeles face a significantly higher risk of premature births. These same women often live below the poverty line and are provided with a lower standard of prenatal care. They are less likely to have access to transportation and frequent checkups.

“Premature births are one of the most difficult problems we have faced. It can impact a child for life and lead to problems learning and integrating into society,” Dr. Saleeby said. “In the past, prenatal care has had a narrow focus on simply providing medical treatment.”

But the new program, “Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns,” seeks to address the root of these premature births. The new initiative will integrate education, technology and healthcare into a holistic approach. The program will help educate expectant mothers about the impact of substance abuse, malnourishment and spousal abuse on the lives of their new children.

The initiative is being funded by Medicare and Medicaid and is expected to serve 4,000 mothers over the next four years. The services will be available at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, MLK outpatient center, Hubert H. Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center and Wilmington Community Clinic.

“By raising the standard of care, we are not only serving mothers,” said Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We are raising the quality of life in our community for generations to come.”