A bi3-funded program that provides legal help at prenatal appointments is showing good outcomes when it comes to healthy mothers and babies.
Little Tee-Elija is now 2-months-old. This 9-pound, 13-ounce little boy was born healthy thanks to a program that partnered with his mother, Tamya Edwards, and her medical team at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital. The program, developed by the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, is called M-Help (Maternal Health Law Partnership).
“What we’ve come to realize is that 80 percent of your health is tied to factors outside the hospital walls, and so these partnerships are really critical if we’re going to address those social needs,” Jill Miller, president of bi3, said.
Part way through her pregnancy, Edwards came in and told her doctor she wasn’t sleeping because of an electrical problem in her home. She was then able to meet with a member of the legal aid team right there in her doctor’s office.
“Within two or three days, they fixed everything,” Edwards said.
“Addressing social needs improves the outcomes for these moms, but some of the thorniest issues that we have to deal with are legal issues: safe housing, domestic violence issues, issues with people’s employment,” said Dr. David Dhanraj, an OB/GYN at Good Samaritan.
The legal aid team explained why they wanted to address Edwards’ health-related legal concerns.
“So that we could reduce her stress, so that she could come to prenatal appointments, benefit from the interventions provided by the medical and healthcare system and hopefully deliver a full-term baby,” said Elaine Fink, who is part of the legal aid team.
Compared to previous pregnancies with her other children, Edwards admits this whole experience was quite different. As for her little one, now, she can just worry about what’s really important.
“I just want to let him know that the world is his, and he really can do anything that he puts his mind to,” Edwards said.
Early results show that women in this program are less likely to have an extreme pre-term birth. In Hamilton County, that is the leading cause of infant mortality.
View Local 12’s full story to learn more about how M-HeLP is transforming health in Cincinnati.