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Akron, Ohio

Summit County awarded $2.48 million to address African American infant mortality rates in Greater Akron


City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Shaleeta Smith
Published: 11-25-2019

Akron, Ohio - November 25, 2019:  Summit County Public Health (SCPH) has been awarded $2.48 million in grant funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Medicaid Managed Care Plans over the next two years, from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021, to continue evidence-based and community-based initiatives aimed to eliminate poor birth outcomes and infant deaths in Akron and Summit County.


Infant mortality is defined as the death of a live-born baby before his or her first birthday. The non-Hispanic African American rate of infant mortality in Summit County is over three times higher than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. This demonstrates the apparent health disparities and public health inequities experienced by African American families in the county.


“Recent Ohio Department of Health data indicates our state’s overall infant mortality rate has decreased, but the rate for African American infant mortality continues to rise,” said Maureen Corcoran, Director of The Ohio Department of Medicaid. “Ohio Medicaid is the state’s largest insurer for pregnancy and post-partum care, and we know it is our moral duty to collaborate with local stakeholders to close the racial disparity gap. With the issuance of these grants, Medicaid and its managed care plan partners demonstrate our commitment to make this happen.”


In 2017, Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan established the Full Term First Birthday Greater Akron collaborative and made a charge to eliminate sleep-related infant deaths and to address the racial health disparity in the African American infant mortality rate. The collaborative consists of over thirty community partners, including Summit County Public Health, who will serve as the administrator of the Healthy Moms and Babies funding. “We are pleased to continue the delivery of this service to our community to provide increased maternal health services and address social determinants of health negatively effecting birth outcomes in Summit County,” said Health Commissioner Donna Skoda.


The funding will support the following eleven agencies: AxessPointe Community Health Centers, Akron Children’s Hospital, Birthing Beautiful Communities, Community Legal Aid, Child Guidance & Family Solutions, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Hope 7/Minority Behavioral Health Group, Project Ujima, Summa Health, Summit County Public Health, and the United Way of Summit County. The funds will continue to provide Community Health Workers, home visiting, Centering Pregnancy®, doulas, legal aid, and targeted community communication to pregnant women and their families. The services will be client-centered and provide increased maternal and postpartum direct services to women, while working to alleviate toxic stress, stabilize resources, and educate medical providers, parents and the public.


“This grant will allow us to continue to provide evidence-based innovative care to expecting mothers in our community, especially African-American mothers. On behalf of our community, I would like to thank the Ohio Department of Medicaid and its managed care plan partners for investing money into Summit County to eliminate racial disparities in our birth outcomes,” said Mayor Horrigan.


Full Term First Birthday is committed to its mission of advocating for policies, educating our community and informing our Greater Akron citizens of programs that promote healthy full-term pregnancies and ensure every child celebrates a first birthday. For more information about infant mortality and maternal health services in Summit County please contact: [email protected].

For further information, contact:
Shaleeta Smith
Maternal Child Health Manager
Phone: 330-926-5629
E-mail: [email protected]

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