ADAMS COUNTY, Pa. (WHP) â€“ One community health program is looking to address higher mortality concerns among low-income women who feel unseen and unheard by the healthcare system. Organizers say a lot of falls back on accessibility.
â€œAs a first time parent, you have no idea what youâ€™re doing and youâ€™re scared,â€ Hailey McKee told CBS 21 Newsâ€™ Samantha York.
McKee gave birth to her daughter, Penelope, 15 months ago. She was immediately hit with the harsh reality so many other parents are facing: inflated expenses.
â€œ$27 for a big pack of diapers that might last you a month,â€ McKee explained. â€œAnd thatâ€™s generic brand.â€
Rising costs are straining young families. Baby formula spiked 30% in the last three years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wipes are up over 10% in price.
â€œHow am I going to be able to do this?â€ McKee questioned when she learned she was pregnant.
McKee turned to Family First Healthâ€™s Nurse-Family Partnership program, which promotes health equity.
â€œWeâ€™re meeting these women in the places where they need it the most,â€ Nurse-Family Partnership Program Manager and Nurse Supervisor Lisa Lathrop explained. â€œWhen they can sometimes feel the most vulnerable.â€
In Pennsylvania, over 24% of counties donâ€™t have full access to maternity care, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. It leaves nearly 200,000 residents in need of support.
â€œEven though I was working, I mean, we still didnâ€™t have much,â€ McKee recalled.
â€œYoung women, in particular, I think often times women who are living with lower income, they feel very unheard and unseen in their health appointments,â€ Lathrop continued.
â€œI think a lot of times with the healthcare system that youâ€™re just left to figure it out on your own,â€ McKee said.
Nurse-Family Partnership recognizes a lack of health coverage keeps low-income parents from the care they need. Instead, theyâ€™re meeting them where they are: at home.
â€œTheyâ€™re always there,â€ McKee said.
â€œBeing that we only serve first-time pregnant mothers who meet income guidelines, weâ€™re serving people who we can make the biggest difference in their lives,â€ Lathrop added.
The program connects expectant mothers to a registered nurse, free of charge, who becomes their personal healthcare provider and guides them through pregnancy and the first two years of the childâ€™s life.
â€œI feel like it gave me confidence, even when I was in one of my darkest times,â€ McKee explained. â€œBecause youâ€™re in survival mode.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re more motivated to provide a better life for their own child than what they might have had when they were a child,â€ Lathrop said.
The community health program also refers parents to other support groups to help the family become economically self-sufficient.
â€œHaving them get a car seat for me and, you know, stuff my car full of clothes was like a huge weight off my shoulders,â€ McKee recalled. â€œBecause I felt like a bad mom.â€
Those behind the program say it enables those stuck in a healthcare gap to feel seen and heard.
â€œThey have felt empowers to ask more questions of their healthcare providers,â€ Lathrop explained.
â€œYou have to be your own advocate,â€ McKee said. â€œAnd just keep going at them until somebody hears you.â€
More information about the program can be foundÂ here.