August 31, 2011
Pregnant women, young children and their parents in Wyandotte County now have more access to health screenings and referrals as a result of expanded services at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Project EAGLE, located in downtown Kansas City, Kan.
Such services fill a profound need in Wyandotte County, which is one of the least-healthy counties in the state, according to 2009 rankings by the Kansas Health Institute. Parents of young children in this community face significant barriers in finding and using health services for themselves and their children. Babies born in Wyandotte County are more likely than children born in other Kansas communities to be born to single, teenaged, unemployed mothers living in poverty who did not have adequate prenatal care. They are also likely to be born at low birth weights and to not be immunized, increasing their risk for poor health in the future.
For this reason, Project EAGLE has expanded Connections, its screening and referral system. Connections staffers will assist eligible families throughout the county in scheduling appointments to the health clinic at the Children's Campus, 444 Minnesota in Kansas City, Kan., where they can receive screenings and, if necessary, referrals to primary care providers or specialty clinics. The goal is to remove many of the traditional barriers that low-income parents face in getting access to health care services. The program is funded through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children grant that provides approximately $50,000 a year for five years.
"Parents participating in the Connections program have shown a strong interest in improving their health and the health of their children," said Leslie Warlen, Connections coordinator. "We are excited for the opportunity, provided to us by the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program, to have a direct and positive impact on the health of our community."
With these services available in the community, Warlen said, parents will be more likely to access health services in a timely manner and to understand and follow up on referrals to their primary care doctors or specialty clinics. "Parents will be better equipped to support the health of their children, and the health of the entire family will improve." To be eligible for Connections, families must live in Wyandotte County and have a pregnant woman or a child under the age of five living in the household. Those interested in the Connections program should call 913-321-9999.
The Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program is a collaborative effort between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Maternal Child Health Bureau that distributes grants to promote community planning and problem solving at the local level.