Reducing Racial Disparities
addressing Extreme Prematurity
Eliminating Sleep-Related Deaths
When I pursued an internship at First Year Cleveland (FYC), one of the first things that struck me about this initiative was its focus on collaboration.
There are 11 action teams that work to execute the FYC mission. Approximately 400 individuals contribute to these action teams, many of whom represent 100 different organizations, including hospitals, nonprofits, city and county health departments and public and private businesses. The individuals involved in FYC are diverse and include doctors, nurses, social workers, elected officials, business professionals, families who have experienced an infant loss and other passionate people from the community.
Through these action teams, these individuals bring their unique experiences and knowledge to work together and achieve one common goal: to reduce infant mortality in Cuyahoga County by reducing racial disparities, addressing extreme prematurity and eliminating sleep-related deaths.
While all the action teams work toward achieving this goal, each team has a different focus, resulting in a more well-rounded structure for the overall organization.
For example, Action Team 2 focuses specifically on reducing racial disparities by gaining a further understanding from African American families that have experienced loss. This action team includes a number of parents who have experienced losses and other members of the community who are involved in activities such as the Wave of Light candlelight vigil, an opportunity to join with other bereaved parents, families and friends to commemorate all babies who sadly died too soon. Action Team 2 has also brought in a mental health expert to discuss how individuals should approach and work with African American families who have experienced loss.
Another team, Action Team 10, works to eliminate sleep-related deaths. In order to do this, they are beginning to implement a sleep ambassador program throughout the county that is currently practiced at MetroHealth Medical Center. The goal of this team is to work with parents and grandparents who have experienced sleep-related infant loss so they can learn to promote and lead safe sleep training for others in Cuyahoga County. The training focuses on the ABCDs of safe sleep: Alone, on their Back, in a Crib, and Don’t smoke. This group also aims to focus on the faith-based community as part of its intervention.
The formation of action teams also allows for many different people from many different backgrounds to come together and get involved in an initiative. Many individuals and organizations are involved in more than one action team and, because of this, ideas and details of other teams are shared.
FYC also emphasizes the importance of being “data-informed” and makes sure to not only regularly gather data regarding infant mortality in Cuyahoga County, but also stay informed about what each of the action teams are doing and what data they are collecting. By doing this, FYC and each action team are better able to determine if what they are doing is working and if they are having an effect on reducing infant mortality.
Overall, the unique structure of FYC leads to a remarkable city-wide collaboration, through which everyone has a place at the table in their own special way. FYC allows and welcomes all participating individuals to work together to make a difference in the lives of families in Cuyahoga County — and it has been truly amazing to witness this collaborative effort.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to do my field placement with FYC and to be a part of their mission.
Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Written by Ann Blackman
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