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This April, we celebrate the ConnectRx Wisconsin initiative that helps Black mothers and their babies. Now in its second year, this innovative care coordination system continues to provide medical care and address essential social needs that contribute to the overall well-being for Black pregnant women and birthing persons in Dane County. Coinciding with this anniversary is Black Maternal Health Week, a time dedicated to recognizing and addressing the health challenges of Black mothers.

A Vision for Health Equity

ConnectRx Wisconsin was launched by the Dane County Health Council and The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness to bridge the health disparity gap in our community, particularly in maternal and child health. The initiative was created to eliminate disparities in low-weight births between Black and white women in Dane County, where Wisconsin has one of the highest Black infant mortality rates in the United States. The Saving Our Babies Report, which includes community-based and system-level recommendations, led to the launch of the Saving Our Babies Initiative in 2019 and the Black Maternal and Child Health Alliance of Dane County in 2020 and paved the way for ConnectRx Wisconsin.

The Heart of ConnectRx Wisconsin

At the core of ConnectRx Wisconsin is a comprehensive screening process, identifying participants who could benefit most from the program. To qualify, patients must:

  1. Identify as African American/Black
  2. Have a positive pregnancy test
  3. Screen positive for one or more of the five Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) domains, including:

    • Housing
    • Financial stability strain
    • Food insecurity
    • Transportation
    • Stress

Once enrolled, individuals work with dedicated community health workers. These professionals guide participants with crucial resources like housing support, financial assistance and accessible health care services.

Making a Difference Together

Over the past two years, ConnectRx Wisconsin has not only improved health outcomes of Black mothers, but has also empowered them with the proper support to create brighter futures for their children.

Since April 2022, ConnectRx Wisconsin has referred 674 Black pregnant patients who were identified as high-risk for coordinated care. Out of these, 600 patients were given essential resources such as housing, food, transportation, and financial assistance. Among the 411 Black pregnant patients who chose to enroll in ConnectRx Wisconsin for additional birthing support, 234 healthy births have occurred, including 172 doula-supported births. This showcases the valuable role of doulas in achieving positive birth outcomes.

During the 20-month evaluation period of ConnectRx Wisconsin, 90% of babies born with doula support reached optimal gestational age, and an impressive 84% were born at a healthy birth weight. These statistics address a critical factor in reducing Black infant mortality rates. Furthermore, in year one, 68% of clients avoided medical interventions, while an unprecedented 94% initiated breastfeeding. These outcomes foster healthier beginnings for both mothers and babies alike.

The program’s success is a testament to the power of community, collaboration and technology. We are proud to be part of the list of program partners below, working together to help address these health disparities to make a positive difference.

A Week of Reflection and Action for Black Maternal Health

Black Maternal Health Week is April 11-17. This time reminds us of the work still required to ensure that all mothers, regardless of race, have access to the care and support they deserve. ConnectRx Wisconsin embodies the spirit of this week throughout the year by actively working to dismantle barriers. The goal of this initiative is to foster a world where every pregnancy is safe, respected and celebrated.

Looking Ahead with Hope

As we reflect on the accomplishments of the ConnectRx Wisconsin program and the importance of Black Maternal Health Week, we continue supporting and uplifting Black mothers in our community. Together, we can continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of countless families. We also continue to work towards ensuring all have the care and support they need to live a healthy life.