An infant's hand holds an adult's finger.

WVU’s HAPI Project/Healthy Start Program receives $5.47 million for next five years

The West Virginia Healthy Start/Helping Appalachian Parents and Infants Project received a total of $5.47 million in continued federal funding for the next five years through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Healthy Start Initiative: Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health. Healthy Start aims to improve health outcomes before, during and after pregnancy, and to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in rates of infant death as well as negative health outcomes in the first 18 months of life.

The HAPI Project is administered by the West Virginia University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the West Virginia University Research Corporation. The Project’s goal is to reduce infant mortality by reducing the incidence of preterm labor and low birth rate and improving the overall health of mothers and families.

“We are so excited to be able to continue our work with families that need support,” Penny Womeldorff, director of the West Virginia Health Start/HAPI Project, said. “Our partnerships with many schools and departments within WVU, WVU Medicine, our numerous community and state partners and providers, and especially our committed nurses and social workers providing such excellent services has been the cornerstone to our success and continuation. We want to keep growing and responding to the needs of our West Virginia families and contribute to the health and wellbeing of West Virginia in general.”

The HAPI Project works with local agencies that employ designated care coordinators, licensed professional social workers and registered nurses who provide education, resources and services to clients. The HAPI Project will expand from eight counties to nine, including Barbour, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph, Taylor and Upshur.

Healthy Start organizations serve communities with infant mortality rates at least 1.5 times the United States national average and with high rates of other negative maternal and infant outcomes. Funding will support a wide range of services for women, children, fathers and families, including: healthcare coordination; case management; linkage to social services; screening and counseling for depression, alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; breastfeeding support; interconception education; fatherhood engagement, child development education; and parenting support.

The HAPI Project is funded by HRSA, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Division of Healthy Start and Perinatal Services and is integrated with Right From The Start.

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