Grant Update: Immigrant Women Community Initiative at Center for Inclusion Health
In January 2018, WHAMglobal committed to supporting a three year initiative at Allegheny Health Network's Center for Inclusion Health which aims to deliver a new community health model that supports pregnant immigrant and refugee women.
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In January 2018, WHAMglobal committed to supporting a three year initiative at Allegheny Health Network's Center for Inclusion Health which aims to deliver a new community health model that supports pregnant immigrant and refugee women. In Allegheny County, the immigrant and refugee population has grown steadily over the past two decades. From 2005-2015, the number of foreign born residents grew from 48,266 to 72,265, more than half of which are women. A community study conducted by the Latino Community Center showed that access to care, particularly pre-natal and post-partum care, can be difficult when families are unsure of who to turn to for information or how to access certain services.
The Immigrant Women Community Model aims to improve the health of expectant mothers by providing increased access to doula and community health worker (CHW) services throughout and after their pregnancy. Many studies have shown doulas and CHWs improve the health outcomes of both mothers and infants. They help navigate women to systems of care and act as advocates, cultural brokers, and provide emotional and social support. Research has found that women who use doula services have fewer medical interventions, fewer Cesarean sections, less use of pain medication, and decreased postpartum depression.
Many organizations support immigrants and refugees in communities informally, often without pay and without official professional capacity. The implementation of a strong doula community health worker model formalizes this work and provides a much needed advocacy network.
The Immigrant Women Community Model includes the following four strategies:
1. Convening community partners for a strategic assessment and process model development in order to design, create, implement and monitor the outcomes;
2. Recruiting and cross training doulas as community health workers to help mothers in the Latino, Bhutanese, and African immigrant communities gain access to effective care, acting as advocates and cultural brokers, and providing emotional and social support;
3. Creating additional training support and job opportunities for community doulas and certified community health workers, and;
4. Working closely with local insurer partners to use "shadow codes" to test the business case for the model in order to promote sustainability.
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