For the first time in more than 10 years, the infant mortality trend in Calhoun County is declining.   Alarms started going off shortly after the new millennium began, mobilizing the health community to find out why and try and reverse the trend.    Calhoun County’s infant mortality rate rose to 11.2 a decade ago.    The latest date has that number reduced by about half, to 6.   The infant mortality rate is the number of children dying under one year of age, divided by the number of live births during the year, multiplied by 1,000.

“This significant improvement is due to a long-term, focused and collaborative effort among many Calhoun County residents and organizations,” said Jim Rutherford, health officer with the Calhoun County Health Department. “Successfully reducing infant mortality required a multi-disciplinary focus on numerous factors including access to medical care as well as maternal education and support.”

With the release of the latest data from The Coordinating Council of Calhoun County covering 2010 – 2014 we’ve now seen five years of steady decline in infant mortality in Calhoun County.

“While this is certainly good news, we must not lose focus, said Rutherford. “We must, and will, continue working together to fulfill our vision of a community where all infants are born healthy and thrive.”

Here are some things that have been done to reverse the troubling trend:

  • 1999 – Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) was created to share community health data and information about community risks and resources. The FIMR program identifies trends in infant mortality and the factors that may be involved, helping the community to plan interventions to decrease the Calhoun County infant mortality rate
  • 2000 – The Regional Health Alliance’s Maternal & Infant Health Commission community collaboration was formed to help ensure that all Calhoun County infants are born healthy and thrive.
  • 2005 – Family Health Center (now Grace Health) opened its Obstetrics and Gynecological Services to improve access to prenatal care.
  • 2006 – The Breastfeeding and Infant Safe Sleep coalitions were formed to encourage healthful, safe practices among parents.
  • 2007 – Oaklawn Hospital implemented a “blanket-less nursery” for infant care.
  • 2008 – The county-wide pack-n-play program was developed to provide a safe sleep environment for every child needing one, along with safe sleep education.
  • 2011 – The Calhoun County Public Health Department began the Nurse Family Partnership, providing visiting nurse support to low-income, first time pregnant women.
  • 2012 – The Pregnancy Care Workgroup brought together numerous community partners to ensure a more integrated, coordinated, community approach to the pregnancy and birth experience in Calhoun County. These partners launched BornToBeHealthy.org to provide easy access to important information for pregnant women, mothers and those who support them.
  • 2012 – To further support care for pregnant women, Grace Health implemented the Nurse Midwife Model of Care.
  • 2013 – To encourage women to breastfeed, Bronson Battle Creek stopped distributing formula gift packs.
  • 2013 – The Home Visiting Hub brought together all agencies providing home visits to mothers infants, children and families to consistently deliver and coordinate services.
  • 2015 – Grace Health began management of the Maternal & Infant Health Program, providing home visits to support vulnerable and high-risk pregnant women and mothers.