A rapidly rising birth rate, large numbers of low-income uninsured pregnant women, shrinking private hospital and physician resources, higher infant mortality rates, and an overload at Los Angeles County prenatal obstetrical care services sites are all factors that prompted National Health Foundation to initiate a program to help low-income women and their babies. The goal was to identify workable solutions to closing the gap between the number of women needing prenatal and obstetrical services in the county and the available resources. Eight private funders, including seven foundations and one hospital, collaborated to fund this two phase pilot program and replication effort.
The public/private partnership created by the Prenatal and OB Access Project involved new collaborations at local community and county-wide levels. Three models for providing services to Medi-Cal eligible women were developed and tested. Each model encompassed a unique delivery mechanism: 1) establishing prenatal clinics at private hospitals, 2)utilizing community physicians who agreed to see patients in their private offices, and 3) utilizing established community clinics. Each approach was supported by a local community-based referral network and by networking with various county departments. Project results included eight hospital-sponsored clinics, all of which became self-supporting, with over 15,000 low-income pregnant women receiving services at these clinics and the private offices of 60 community-based physicians. The hospital-based model was being replicated at two additional sites. Publication of a case study on the project has resulted in over 100 requests for information from around the country and Canada.
This project was the recipient of the "1996 Inaugural Year Special Achievement Award for Innovations in Maternal and Child Health," sponsored by the California Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch.