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CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs expanding rural maternity health access with $4 million grant

KATV Little Rock/Pine Bluff 11/28/2022 Cory Evans
© Provided by KATV Little Rock/Pine Bluff

Over the next four years, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs will work to improve access to vital, high-quality prenatal care for pregnant women across 11 Southwest Arkansas counties thanks to a $4-million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

According to a press release, the grant is the largest in the history of the healing ministry. It will empower CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs to build upon the current Healthy Mom, Thriving Baby Project by establishing AR MOMS, a network of committed, rural healthcare partners to coordinate a continuum of pregnancy services from pre-conception through postpartum care. 

“Residents in many of these counties currently have limited or no access to prenatal and maternity care resources. On top of that, communities struggle with food insecurity, poverty, and limited access to technology among other challenges,” said CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs President Dr. Douglas Ross. “We want to interrupt those cycles and make sure these babies and their mothers have the best start possible. CHI St. Vincent has the long standing relationships with Southwest Arkansas’ rural providers and now the resources necessary to take that work to the next level.”

The AR MOMS program will work with community partners to increase local access to care, ensure mothers can access risk-appropriate obstetric care near them up until at least 32 weeks, and improve access to telemedicine across the 11 Southwest Arkansas counties, including Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hot Spring, Howard, Montgomery, Ouachita, Pike, Polk and Sevier counties.

“One in three women in these areas receive no first trimester obstetric care at all. We have an opportunity here to decrease infant and maternal mortality rates by ensuring that they have access to appropriate prenatal care,” said Dr. Ross. “That also means improving lifelong outcomes for them, their families and everyone throughout these communities.”

CHI St. Vincent’s said the initiative is part of its broader mission to make the "healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of the people it serves, especially those who are vulnerable."

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