Project Expands Well-Baby Care for Infants Born to Low-Income Women

Reach Out: Physicians' Initiative to Expand Care to Underserved Americans

From 1994 to 1998, staff with the Gift of Life Foundation, a nonprofit community-based organization of the Montgomery, Ala. area, worked to remove barriers to care for infants born to low-income mothers in Montgomery's four-county region and to help prevent babies from "falling through the cracks" of the health care system there.

The project, called the Child Health Access Project, brought two new elements to an existing community-based effort of the Gift of Life Foundation:

  • A computerized tracking system for babies born under Gift of Life (comprising virtually all babies born to the area's low-income mothers).
  • Pediatric care coordination services.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Reach Out: Physicians' Initiative to Expand Care to Underserved Americans national program.

Key Results:

  • Over the four-year RWJF funding period, the Child Health Access Project enrolled 3,627 babies who received regular pediatric care from 14 physicians newly recruited to the project.
  • By mid-1998, there were 2,805 babies ages zero to three receiving pediatric care—representing 80 percent of all babies born in the area to low-income area mothers.
  • At that point in time, 65 percent of project children two years of age or older had received six or more well-child visits and 91 percent were current with their immunizations.
  • Seventy-five percent of new mothers designated "high risk" because of family stress factors kept scheduled immunization appointments under the project, and 90 percent kept their newborn checkup appointments.