Central Texas health initiative seeks to reverse maternal death spike

Posted at 11:01 PM, Sep 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 00:22:35-04

A Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists study in September found that the lone star state is on top for a troubling statistic: Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States.  

The study found that for every 100,000 pregnancies in Texas, 36 women die. The number is so alarming, the state of Texas appointed a special committee to investigate the cause.

One of the reasons the study cited was health issues during the course of pregnancy. In Waco, one program hopes to solve that with early intervention.

Nurse-Family Partnership is a health initiative that places a registered nurse with a first-time expecting mother. The program was implemented in Waco January 2016.

Shelli Ellis is a registered nurse at Baylor Scott and White, with over 14 years of experience.  She says she knows all too well some of the complications that can come with pregnancy. "Being pregnant is an exciting time but also a dangerous time in a women's life. They need to understand that if my body starts showing signs of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia, this is what my body is going to do,” Ellis said.

Program Director, Daryl Meyer, says that early access to medical supervision can make an impact, "We have a lot of women who aren't seeking care in a timely fashion. A lot of them are waiting until that third trimester to start seeking care.”

With programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, those women no longer have to wait. The program has a proven track record of promoting healthy habits that lead to successful pregnancies.

"We know that if we can get them to be as healthy during that pregnancy and have a healthy baby so when you are monitoring and having those prenatal exams, you have a chance to impact that outcome,” Meyer said.

While Nurse Family Partnership takes doctor referrals, they are open for first-time expecting mothers. You can sign up online or give them a call.