Creating a ‘catalyst’ for greater maternal health with data and early intervention

Improving maternal health outcomes

When Xzavaria Henderson came to Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center (a federally qualified health center) looking for prenatal care for the birth of her third child, she had no idea just how all-encompassing that support would be.

Natalie Debelak, prenatal care coordinator with Northland Health Care Access who is embedded at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City, connected Xzavaria with regular neonatal appointments to help with her complicated pregnancy. She also helped refer her to resources for rental and utility assistance.

“When I came to Sam Rodgers, I had lost my job,” Xzavaria said. “And so being able to have that extra hand to help out with things that not only helped me, but it helped me through my pregnancy and not being so stressed out.”

Collaborating to improve maternal health

Behind the scenes, a unique partnership powered by UnitedHealthcare Catalyst™ set the stage for these types of improved outcomes and wraparound support. In this effort, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Missouri, Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center and Northland Health Care Access work together in order to reduce disparities and improve maternal health outcomes to underserved communities in the area.

UnitedHealthcare Catalyst is a data-driven approach that looks at how health interventions would be most impactful in a community, and then brings together community-based organizations to drive interventions to meet the health needs of a community. In Jackson County, 1 in 9 babies are born with a low birthweight. Between 2020 and 2022, the rate of infants born with a low birthweight in Jackson increased more than 15%. Community insights suggest lack of insurance coverage, limited or no use of pre- and post-natal care, and reduced availability of resources (like nutritious food and transportation) add challenges to having a healthy pregnancy. The county also earned a “F” in the latest March of Dimes Report Card.

To address barriers to accessing care in the Kansas City community, UnitedHealthcare works with Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center and Northland Health Care Access, a community-based health care advocacy organization to offer a maternal health program which includes: 

  • Educating members on the importance of pre- and post-natal care, well child visits, and additional resources available for accessing care
  • Incorporating dental care and depression screenings more consistently into pre-natal care plans to support physical and behavioral health needs
  • Screening for and identifying social needs and making referrals to community partners for access to transportation, housing, healthy food and other health related social need resources

The impact of the program is continuously evaluated for purposes of program refinement and results are reported annually.

Advocating for mother and baby

For Xzavaria and more than 400 other mothers like her in the area, these successes go beyond numbers – they come from the compassionate connections between mother and baby — and their care team.

“I believe that patient interaction and patient care comes from building personal relationships,” Natalie said. “So I've worked really hard at making sure every patient has my cell phone number.”

Xzavaria’s pregnancy was not easy, but the scariest moment came after her baby was born, when having that number to call proved crucial.

“I told her I was rushed to the hospital because I bled out and they're wanting to do emergency surgery,” Xzavaria said, “but I'm scared and I don't have nobody here.”

Natalie went to the hospital immediately. At the hospital, she advocated for Xzavaria’s care with providers, then later picked up her prescriptions and took her home after discharge.

“Measurable success truly comes from getting text messages from patients with pictures of their babies,” Natalie said. “And every time they go to deliver and we send them with their prenatal records, I always say, please send me a picture and let me know how it goes.

“Every woman should have equal opportunity across the board.”

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