Daviess County sees a drop in its infant mortality rate

The county had once been listed as the highest rate in the state.

Posted: Dec 23, 2019 6:31 PM

DAVIESS COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - In 2016 the Indiana state department of health released a list of counties dealing with infant mortality. At the top of that list was Daviess county. The county was listed as having a mortality rate of 11.7 per 1000 births. That's between 2009 and 2014.

Shawna O'Kelley-Brinson from Daviess Community Hospital says she saw the trends spiking.

O'Kelley-Brinson explains, "In the 23 years that I've been with the hospital, in this role I've definitely seen some changes in culture and just society itself obviously. And we definitely saw those numbers rising."

The first step was identifying the problem.

Daviess County public health nurse Kathy Sullender says, "We had some clusters of congenital births, deaths. Which drove our rates up high during that time."

Next was coming up with a solution.

Sullender explains, "Getting women to prenatal care, access to prenatal care early on. Continues to be an issue but it was also an issue. And connecting women and families to services we did or did not have at that time."

Daviess County put together a Fetal Infant Mortality Review team, also known as FIMR. FIMR brings county and state officials together to keep tabs on the county's mortality rate.

Sullender says, "We try to see if there are gaps in the services. Having all those professionals at the table then we are able to learn what other people have done or haven't done."

The county has now seen its mortality rate drop. However, they say there is still work to be done.

Sullender says, "It's good to see positive results but we also know that it could change tomorrow. So we have to constantly be aware of it, on top of it. Always looking for gaps in the system. Always looking for ways to improve."

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