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Astoria Federal Savings Gift Supports Perinatal Services for Medically Underserved

South Nassau Communities Hospital has received a $7,500 gift from Astoria Federal Savings in support of a program offered by South Nassau’s Family Medicine Center that is designed to combat the elevated health risks and poorer health outcomes, including infant mortality, of medically-underserved pregnant women and their newborns.

"As a Long Island headquartered and focused community bank, Astoria Federal Savings is proud to help South Nassau Communities Hospital deliver health education, support and perinatal care to women in and around the South Shore community. Their proactive approach gives babies the best possible chance for a long and healthy life in the many communities that Astoria Federal supports,” said Brian Edwards, Executive Vice President, Astoria Federal Savings.

“This is the second consecutive year that Astoria Federal Savings has made a generous gift to South Nassau,” said Elizabeth Nardone, vice president of development at South Nassau. “We are grateful that it is partnering with us once again to advance hospital programs and services that address the range of health issues and problems facing the residents and communities we serve."

Undesired outcomes such as premature birth and low birth weights are serious problems affecting more than half a million infants in Nassau County and across the United States each year, at a cost of more than $26 billion annually. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death, and babies who survive often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, including cerebral palsy, respiratory impairment and developmental delays.

South Nassau Family Medicine Center’s Perinatal Education Program is showing that these outcomes are often preventable. The program provides culturally and linguistically appropriate counseling and patient education services that are helping to improve health outcomes for pregnant and parenting women and their newborns, enhancing women’s capacity for self-care during and after pregnancy, and improving their knowledge of recommended infant care. Activities include classroom-based instruction and individualized patient education sessions in both Spanish and English. Topics include nutrition, physical activity, understanding when to seek medical attention, stages of fetal and infant development, learning how newborns signal their needs, and safety tips for the home environment.

The program provides individual education and counseling to more than 400 women annually. Evaluation and analysis of the program consistently show that it is effective in improving patients’ knowledge of self-care and infant care, increasing breast feeding rates – an important benchmark for assessing maternal and child health outcomes – and improving access to care.

South Nassau is one of four sites selected by the Nassau County Department of Health to participate in an evidence-based research project that will assess the effectiveness of a new curriculum designed specifically for low-income women, many of whom have low literacy skills. The program, called Baby Basics, offers educational materials for patients, along with training and technical assistance for staff in providing prenatal education and health literacy skills to underserved families, with the goal of improving health outcomes for both parents and their children. Experience with the program in other settings has shown that it is associated with reduced emergency room utilization, fewer missed prenatal appointments, and improved compliance with recommendations for post-delivery care.

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