Hospitals hoping to solve high infant deaths

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Eight out of every 1,000 babies born in Indiana don’t survive their first year of life.

“The infant mortality rate is higher here than the average in the country,” said Jack Jager, director of health collaborative at Union Hospital.

One of the biggest is that expectant mothers frequently don’t have pre-natal care.

But another big reason is some rural area hospitals don’t receive the training needed for emergency birth situations.

“Babies can be born and the personnel in these places might not see a lot of the kinds of emergencies that Union (Hospital) does,” said Jager.

Those facilities are high-volume and low-risk, which means they just don’t have the training to deal with high risk births, especially ones that don’t have large OB departments.

“OB is more often a wellness area, but when that critical patient comes in we know that our resources are not enough. And we learn how to maintain them until they are transported,” said Janis Cullison of Sullivan County Community Hospital.

Jager thinks the key is simple.

More education and training for rural area medical personnel.

“We have designed various things to do to help train personnel in caring for neo-natal emergencies,” said Jager.

“It’s going to be wonderful for us to recognize the emergency and use the training we have to intervene early, which time is so important and reduce mortality,” said Cullion.

This is also where the new West Central Indiana Infant Mortality Task Force comes in to play.

“We also have a task force that is working together in other areas. Pre-mature births and so forth to get babies better from the beginning, from right when conception occurs,” said Jager.

They’re hoping both of these ideas are enough to save lives.

“The first thing hopefully we can take care of fairly quickly by teaching these educators, but the second thing is to try to prevent unwanted deaths,” said Jager.

The task force had their first meeting on Friday.

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