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Commissioners Approve Healthy Babies Grant Extension

Cary and Kacey Jordan, flickr Creative Commons

Sedgwick County Commissioners unanimously approved a grant extension on Wednesday afternoon for the county’s Healthy Babies program, despite questioning its effectiveness.

The program offers advice and support for at-risk mothers in the hopes of decreasing the county’s infant mortality rate, which has consistently hovered above state and national averages.

Commissioners Richard Ranzau and Jim Howell said the county’s rate of 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births isn’t improving.

“At some point, we have to decide if we’re going to keep funding programs that don’t work just because they sound good and they have a good intent,” Ranzau said.

Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne-Lutz disagreed, saying the program is working—for the roughly 500 women who are enrolled, the infant mortality rate is less than a third of the state average.

“Our outcomes show that what we’re doing makes a difference,” Byrne-Lutz said. “However, I also understand (the commission’s) concern that we’re only seeing a small percentage of the women that could be affected and helped by our programs.”

In a 3-2 vote, the commissioners also terminated a tax-payer supported position within the Healthy Babies program. Byrne-Putz says the decision will likely cause a recently vacated nursing position to go unfilled.

The 1-year grant extension is worth $1.02 million. Byrne-Lutz says the county will work towards increasing the number of women enrolled in the program.