Union Health Foundation launches ‘All Babies Healthy Homes Initiative’ to help combat high rates of infant mortality | News

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The Union Health Foundation is launching a program to help improve the living environments of Wabash Valley families. This was made possible thanks to a recent federal grant — awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Union Health Foundation is using this $46,362 grant to create the All Babies Healthy Homes Initiative. Its goal is to identify environmental hazards in the home that might negatively impact a baby’s health. 

Through a collaborative effort with the Lugar Center for Rural Health and other community partners, this program will expand the existing services provided by the All Babies Initiative.

The program was founded back in 2016. It aims at addressing West-Central, Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.

All babies program manager, Matthew Herrick, tells me that’s due to a number of factors…

“There are a lot of genetic abnormalities, also some environmental things that concern us — such as negative safe sleep environments and other issues,” Herrick said.

This pilot program specifically targets homes with pregnant women and children through 18-months of age.

According to the E.P.A., children are more vulnerable to pollutants than adults due to differences in behavior and biology. 

Navigators and community health workers with ‘All Babies’ perform home visits to identify needs and barriers that families have from receiving adequate care.

“When we’re in the homes we’re working with the families, educating the moms and dad, playing with the children. We’re looking to see if they have a safe environment.”

Some of the things they look for are:

  • clean floors because babies enjoy ‘tummy time’ and need a clear space to crawl around.
  • working smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
  • stairs that need to be gated
  • exposed lead paint

…among many others.

In 2021 alone, the All Babies Initiative served over 1,500 individuals. 

This new partnership with Union Hospital will help extend those services to many more families.

“Our mission is to improve health and wellness in the Wabash Valley, and we need to start at the beginning,” Union Health Foundation Director, Joel Harbaugh said.

This program is for all babies program participants. 

If you would like to refer yourself or a friend, you can do so by visiting their website.