Senator Farley Announces $300,000 Grant For Bellevue Woman's Hospital's Nationally-recognized Prenatal Incentive Program

Hugh T. Farley

April 13, 2006

State Senator Hugh T. Farley is proud to announce that he was able to secure a $300,000 grant through the New York State Senate to aid Bellevue Woman's Hospital in their commitment to healthy babies, for its national-award winning Before Your Baby Basics program. The program's creator, Deborah Chesky, was awarded the national "Eleanor Clark Award for Innovative Programs in Patient Care" in Houston, Texas. It is estimated that this program has saved the New York State Medicaid system approximately $1.3 million. This program also won the "2004 New York State Patient Safety Award" and received two grants from the March of Dimes.

"This funding will help with the hospital's prenatal and postnatal programs for at-risk, low-income and eligible pregnant women," Senator Farley said. "Providing education, case management services and close monitoring of a pregnancy can help ensure a healthy outcome. This program has enabled health care providers to formulate a plan early on in the pregnancy to address any possible psychosocial issues or medical problems." Since the program inception, the number of women being reported to the state child protective system and giving birth to a pre-term baby has been drastically reduced.

Bellevue's President/CEO, Anne Saile has been a strong supporter of the program. "This program is saving lives of women and infants who may have a complicated medical or social history which puts them at-risk." Women and families are enrolled in the program early in pregnancy and are offered services up to 6 weeks following delivery. Services are provided free of charge.

Women who have no or little insurance and cannot afford the numerous pre-natal check-ups will typically forgo this preventive medicine.

"By offering this prenatal/post-natal care, this preventive medicine would save money for the hospital, insurance carriers, Medicaid and taxpayers by dealing with any potential problems before a situation worsens. I applaud Bellevue for being very proactive in its provision of health care rather than being reactive to problems. I am very proud to have a part in this project," Senator Farley said. "According to health officials, while not all birth defects can be prevented, a woman can increase the chances of having a healthy baby by taking a multivitamin that has folic acid in it, having regular medical check-ups like the prenatal visits in Bellevue's program, eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs."

Health organizations such as the New York State Department of Health, the March of Dimes and the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center stress the importance of early and regular pre-natal care.

The program includes a comprehensive range of services including a free, 12-week childbirth preparation program which includes Lamaze, infant CPR, yoga and a reunion. Each participant who completes the entire series of classes attends a "graduation" ceremony and receives a new crib, car seat or gift certificate. For some, this is the first time they ever "graduated." Women are also able to "shop" at Bellevue's Mom's Boutique, which contains maternity clothing, infant items, car seats and other items to prepare for a safe discharge home. Throughout the pregnancy, women are referred to a number of community agencies, including Medicaid, domestic violence programs and mental health providers to resolve any difficulties which could result in a pre-term delivery or report to child protective services.

In 2000 and in 2002, Senator Farley secured two $50,000 grants for the Niskayuna hospital's mobile mammography coach. Similar to the pre-natal/post-natal initiative by Bellevue, the mobile mammography project was created in 1997 so that more women, especially those in rural areas, could receive the critical screenings they need.

"Bellevue Woman's Hospital provides a full array of health care services to women in Schenectady and throughout the Capital Region, to say nothing of being the place where 110,000 local babies first saw the light of day," Senator Farley said. "This funding ensures continued quality care."