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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Heinz Endowments Invest in Expansion of AHN First Steps and Beyond Program to Impact Racial Disparities and Reduce Infant Mortality

The Heinz Endowments team up with the Highmark Foundation and AHN to Focus on Social Determinants of Heath for Local Mothers and Infants

PITTSBURGH -- Grant funds from The Heinz Endowments to Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Equitable Health Institute will support a critical mission to see that all babies born in Allegheny County will celebrate their first birthday.

Fetal deaths are two times more likely among Pittsburgh’s Black women compared to white women, according to a recent report by the City of Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission. For Black women in Pittsburgh, 18 out of every 1,000 pregnancies will end in a fetal death, compared to only nine out of every 1,000 pregnancies in white patient populations.

“Reducing racial disparities for Black expectant mothers and eliminating preventable sleep-related deaths for infants in and around the Greater Pittsburgh area is our primary focus,” said Margaret Larkins Pettigrew, MD, project lead and Senior Vice President, Enterprise Chief Clinical Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at AHN. “By honing in on this area, we’re able to gather meaningful data, align programs and coordinate systems to decrease infant deaths with accountability and sustainability.”

The First Steps and Beyond Program is designed to decrease Black infant mortality rates, reduce preterm birth rates and increase knowledge about safe sleep. This pivotal program aims to expand prenatal, perinatal, birth doula and fatherhood services as well as develop interventions for families experiencing oppression and hardship, especially due to racial inequality.

“With the investment of resources from the Endowments, we will be able to expand the First Steps and Beyond Program by partnering with additional community-based organizations and neighborhood pediatricians to address the impact of racial disparities and birth outcomes,” said Allie Quick, Chief Philanthropy Officer at AHN. “This valuable support also enables us to offer increased access to behavioral healthcare and enrollment in programs which provide education and family services for parents facing adversity and racial disparity.”

"The Heinz Endowments is devoted to the vision of a just community where all are included and where everyone who calls this city home has a real and meaningful opportunity to thrive,” said Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments. “As part of our mission to help those in our region prosper, we are pleased to partner with AHN to reduce the impact of social determinants of health for mothers and infants.”

Additional funding to spearhead the initiative has been provided by the Highmark Foundation, whose mission is dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for individuals who reside in the communities served by Highmark, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates.

“We’re pleased to partner yet again with the Heinz Endowments on such an important community effort. It takes purposeful collaboration to achieve our goals of this program and move the needle on health equity in our region,” said Yvonne Cook, President of The Highmark Foundation. “Today’s announcement is an exciting advancement in coordinated care through which we can establish more community-based resources and connections that will deliver better health outcomes for Black expectant and new mothers throughout the Pittsburgh area.”

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