United Health Foundation Donates $750,000 to Support Maternal Health Needs of Georgia Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia to expand services and support for at-risk mothers
The United Health Foundation has donated $750,000 to the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia to improve access to health care and health outcomes for Georgia’s mothers and babies. The funding will support increased access to services, including virtual perinatal case management, regional maternal mental health support groups and distribution of postpartum supply kits.
This effort is part of UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) more than $100 million commitment to fight COVID-19, support impacted communities and address emerging health care issues related to the pandemic. Grant partnerships to address maternal health are being announced today with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies in Georgia as well as East Carolina University in North Carolina. Both states are experiencing increasing rates of COVID-19 infections and have historically high rates of maternal and infant mortality.
“Georgia already has some of the poorest maternal and infant health outcomes in the country, and COVID-19 is exacerbating these serious challenges,” said Junior Harewood, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare of Georgia and Alabama. “During these historic times, our partnership with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition will help ensure that pregnant and postpartum women and their families have greater access to information, support and care they need.”
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed countries and is the only industrialized nation with a rising rate. Georgia ranked 49th in the rate of maternal mortality compared to all U.S. states, with the rate of maternal mortality 1.6 times higher for Black women than white women in the state, according to America’s Health Rankings 2019 Health of Women and Children Report. Georgia also ranked 45th in infant mortality in the same report.
“The governor, the girls and I are very grateful to the United Health Foundation for their generous donation to the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and their support of Georgia families,” said Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp. “During these unprecedented times, it is important to limit potential exposure to COVID-19, but it is also critical to receive needed health care. Through this effort, expectant and postpartum mothers now have better access to much needed medical care.”
The $750,000 donation to Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia will enable increased virtual perinatal case management for pregnant and postpartum women in rural and underserved areas of Georgia, including biweekly check-ins, educational sessions and online gamification of services for clients via their web-based platform, Pickles & Ice Cream Georgia® (www.picklesandicecreamga.org).
A portion of the funds will be used for workforce development to increase the number of perinatal support professionals in underserved areas of the state. Regional maternal mental health support groups will also provide additional training, outreach and screenings for mothers and fathers in the perinatal period. And supplies will be provided directly to families experiencing high need due to COVID-19 and related instabilities, including diapers, other baby items, gift cards and postpartum care kits across the organization’s programs.
“We are seeing women avoid needed care due to fear of exposure to COVID-19, as well as increased rates of anxiety, isolation and mental health concerns for pregnant and postpartum families,” said Elise Blasingame, executive director, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. “We are grateful to the United Health Foundation for prioritizing funding for this important need and partnering with us to support expectant and new mothers throughout Georgia.”
UnitedHealth Group is committed to improving the health of mothers and newborns, raising awareness for improved maternal health, and reducing the occurrence of avoidable maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. UnitedHealthcare’s Healthy Pregnancy and Maternity Support programs provide resources and services to help expectant mothers get the most out of their benefits, make informed decisions, and promote dialogue with care providers. The company is also actively addressing disparities in maternal health outcomes education in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morehouse School of Medicine and the March of Dimes.
To date, UnitedHealth Group has donated more than $100 million to support impacted communities including health care workers, hard-hit states and localities, seniors and those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. Previously announced grants to increase capacity in Georgia to fight COVID-19 include $100,000 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank and $100,000 to Families First in Atlanta to provide mental health services.