County promotes infant care program
For more than 20 years, the Yuma County Health Department has sought to improve proper pre- and postnatal care and childhood development through a program it offers expectant mothers.
The Healthy Start, or Comienzo Sano, program has served numerous families in that time.
The department is redoubling its efforts to reach out to families around Yuma County, particularly those in the southern half where, according to program coordinator Hugo Aguirre, many residents may not even be aware of the program's existence.
Funded through state grants, Healthy Start seeks to reduce the premature birth rate, improve access to prenatal care, increase the child vaccination rate and educate families about good nutrition in infant care.
The program brings together expectant mothers in group sessions that cover such topics as the importance of folic acid in their diets, proper overall diet during pregnancy, family planning, creating the proper home environment for a newborn and childhood development.
For families that qualify financially, the program provides information about guidelines for enrolling in such programs as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System and the federal Women, Infants and Children.
The group sessions in Yuma, San Luis, Wellton and Somerton are complemented by program workers' visits to the participants' homes.
All of the services are free, Aguirre said.
“Currently we have about 210 women participating. We're concerned about reaching out more in the south county. People are not taking advantage of the program, and I think that is partly due to not promoting it, and because people lack the time to attend the sessions.
“All the services are free and are given without consideration of immigration status. The purpose is to have healthy families.”
For more information, call the county health department at 317-4673 or 317-4548.