Grant expands prenatal services at Southside Family Clinic

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Southside Community Health Services has recently received grant funding from Boston Scientific, a medical device company based in Nadick, MA, with sites in the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities. Boston Scientific has been on the cutting edge of medical technology for nearly four decades. The company created a Foundation in 2002 to support innovative programs which improve lives in two important areas: health and education.

“Grants are given for health education, for the well being of communities in which our employees live and work. We also contribute to society and communities through our innovative products,” said Kate Gorman of Boston Scientific. Southside was awarded a ten thousand dollar grant for prenatal services for the uninsured and underinsured. “It will be used to support pregnancy services and provide quality prenatal care, which is the foundation for a child’s lifelong health,” said Gorman.

Tom Resnick, Development Director of Southside Community Health Services, spoke of the great need for corporate funding from companies like Boston Scientific. “As we deal with a lot of uninsured patients, obviously, the revenue flow comes up short. As corporations and foundations get into the mix in terms of grants that help support the uninsured patients, the quality of care increases and more people can be provided care to,” said Resnick.

Last year, the Foundation awarded ninety grants throughout the country. These grants are established through employee community teams. “Organizations will contact our Foundation and submit grant requests. They are then sent to employee teams. These employees volunteer their time in the community to look for organizations like Southside. Boards review the requests based upon their own understanding of the needs in the community,” explained Gorman. The organization is evaluated based upon their ability to address the health needs of the community.

“Boston Scientific Corporation is in the vanguard of Foundation giving. They came into our [group] of supporters about three years ago. Their local employee group that makes decisions was extremely impressed with us and as a result, they wanted to support our uninsured prenatal care program. They increased our grant substantially last year and this year it allows us to deal more comprehensively and on a broader scale with prenatal care. It’s that kind of leadership which is really appreciated,” said Resnick.

“We were pleased particularly with Southside because it has a unique way of providing comprehensive quality care for those without access,” said Gorman. Funding for prenatal and early child development struck the team as major sources for increased financial assistance within the organization.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that the infant mortality incidence within the minority group populations in the Twin Cities is rather broad and desperate. Certain populations rival third world countries in terms of their infant mortality. We measure infant mortality of deaths per one thousand live births. In the African-American community compared to the white population, they suffer 279 percent greater infant mortality. That’s staggering!” said Resnick. He continued with the statistics of other ethnic groups. American Indians have 244 percent Asian-Americans have 39 percent and the Hispanic/Latino/Chicano community has 33 percent greater infant mortality. “Now if one was confronted with the lowest percentage, one would say that this is a disaster, but when you’re almost to 300 percent . . . that’s well beyond a disaster, that’s a catastrophe. There are a lot of things that can be done to bring those numbers down,” said Resnick.

The focus should be on early examination during the mother’s pregnancy. “It is extremely important to get in early for care during your pregnancy. The concept of first, second, and third trimester presentations . . . the later you go on towards that third trimester presentation of the mother into care, the less of an opportunity you have to intervene in a variety of ways to take care of the mother and to protect the baby at birth. Obviously, there’s a problem in delay,” said Resnick. 81 percent of whites get in during the first trimester of care, compared to 66 percent of African- Americans, 56 percent of Latinos/Chicanos, 56 percent of Asian-Americans, and 53 percent of American Indians. “We’ve had mothers actually present themselves at about the time of birth for the first time. There are things that you can do to eliminate such disastrous outcomes,” continued Resnick.

Bill Tendle, Executive Director of Southside Community Health Services attempts to explain why patients may be hesitant about seeing a physician or nurse practitioner, other than the lack of health insurance. “The first thing that people have to be aware of is that health, at least from early childhood, makes you a very rich person, because if you don’t have health, you can’t have anything else or do anything else. I would hope that community clinics like Southside . . . NorthPoint, Open Cities in St. Paul . . . that we all serve populations that are ethnically diverse, have people on our staff who know how to treat people with respect, and we look for opportunities to show people what we can do. Secondly, I think that most people want good healthcare and a lot of times the people whom we assist think that the people that provide healthcare don’t really care and that’s not always the case. Sometimes, people are overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to do in a small organization like ours because a lot of times we have to work with not the level of funding where we could do a good job. We are under-funded many times and that’s one of the reasons we think the grant we received from Boston Scientific and what it can do for prenatal women is just excellent for an organization like ours,” said Tendle.

Resnick reviewed some of the gruesome outcomes that mothers who neglect care for their unborn child face. “Spina bifida in the infant, which is basically an open spine, can be almost 100 percent prevented by folic acid, a very simple thing that you can give the mother during her pregnancy, and that’s just one example. If we can get the mothers in early where they might not realize the use of alcohol can have disastrous affects in producing fetal alcohol syndrome babies – a lifetime handicap for the child – would cost probably millions of dollars for the care of that child which can be prevented by indicating to the mother that this is a very dangerous thing to do, that they are playing Russian roulette, and that the American Medical Association says there is no safe intake of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy,” said Resnick.

Resnick applauded Boston Scientific for their atypical dedication to healthcare. “Believe it or not, healthcare is not a great concern to most foundations and corporations. It’s very difficult to garner grants from those areas. To some extent, they believe that that’s a private matter or it’s a government function. For instance the McKnight Foundation doesn’t give to healthcare at all and they’re the largest giver in the state of Minnesota. It’s like in your armamentarium if you take that out of your quiver already before you start you’re basically fighting with one arm behind your back. So we’ve tried to educate foundations and corporations. What happens is that if people are not taken care of, the taxpayer takes care of them. There’s no such thing as a totally private matter because when mistakes are made, there are consequences on a communal basis for a variety of healthcare concerns . . . Guess what, HCMC [Hennepin County Medical Center] is primarily a tax- supported organization,” said Resnick. There’s a cost to the community and a cost to the taxpayer. “I think re-educating foundations and corporations as to ‘everyone is in this together’ and we have to look at it as a communal effort, I think more and more of them will drop that restriction about healthcare support,” added Resnick.

Al McFarlane, moderator and host of “Conversations with Al McFarlane Public Policy Forum” suggested that there are a lot of young mothers out there that simply don’t know better when it comes to proper healthcare. “The amount of information out there is dramatically low and the amount of myths that circulate in various communities is counterproductive totally, so we need an educational regimen that counters that and can save money, prevent disease, hardship and disabilities,” said Resnick.

To contact Southside Community health Services, call the main information line at (612) 822-9030.

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