College of Nursing Joins Infant Mortality Collaborative
The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing is partnering with the newly formed Infant Mortality Collaborative—a partnership among Greater Cincinnati health care entities, local government and a nonprofit organization—in an effort to reduce the infant mortality rate in the region.
The infant mortality rate is the rate at which babies die before their first birthday, measured as deaths per 1,000 live births.
According to the organization’s data, while the national rate is 6.05, the rates in Cincinnati and Hamilton County have consistently been much higher. In 2012, the rate was 9.21 in Cincinnati and 13.3 in Hamilton County. What this means is that in 2012, for example, of the 10,972 babies born in Hamilton County 101 died before their first birthday.
"In some neighborhoods here, we have death rates that are higher than in Third World countries,” says the nursing college’s representative to the collaborative, associate dean for clinical practice, partnership and community engagement. Karen Bankston, PhD.
Bankston, a former health care executive at Drake Center and chief nursing and operations officer at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, says her passion for involving the college stems from almost two decades of being engaged in local infant mortality initiatives and community women’s health programs in Cincinnati.
And in her experience, she says, nurses have not been at the core of the effort, despite the fact that nurses contribute to the delivery of care to mothers and babies. This is an opportunity for nurses and nursing be a part of the decision-making process that will positively affect these challenging outcomes.
"What we envision is not only involvement for our student nurses, but with our faculty who are already doing research in women’s health,” says Bankston.
The goal of the college, and all the stakeholders involved, Bankston says, is "to provide young women with social and instructional support so that they are doing things that will promote a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.”
The Infant Mortality Collaborative is made up of city and county officials, area birthing hospitals (Christ Hospital, Mercy Health, Tri-Health and UC Health), the UC College of Nursing, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) and the Center for Closing the Health Gap, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities in Greater Cincinnati.
On June 13, 2013, the stakeholders signed a collaboration agreement at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati.