County Health Day, a time to celebrate the important work and efforts being done to support community health, is recognized every year on April 19 through the National Association of Counties. This year, Wake County is highlighting the work being done in and around infant mortality and community health needs.
“This is a day to recognize and applaud the efforts we have made to better the health of our county, as well as highlight what work is still needed to continue down the path we’re on,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson. “Initiatives like the Best Baby Zone, Infant Mortality Workgroup and Community Health Needs Assessment all work towards the goal of ensuring that all residents have opportunities to live long, healthy and productive lives.”
At their regular meeting this week, the Wake County Board of Commissioners passed their 2022 Wake County Board Goals which include strategies and objectives in the areas of community health and vitality.
Best Babies Zone
The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) brings together Southeast Raleigh residents, businesses and local organizations to build on existing community assets to guarantee all children born in the “zone” have the best chance at life.
Since 2020, the BBZ has worked to address the social and structural determinants of health and structural racism that are at the root of poor birth outcomes in Wake County. Through collaborative efforts, the BBZ works within six focus areas as outlined in the Infant Mortality Workgroup Report, which are:
- Home visits;
- Prenatal care;
- Safe sleep education;
- Fatherhood involvement;
- Racial equity; and
- Preconception and Women’s health.
While facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the BBZ created sustainable partnerships with community organizations and through these collaborative efforts have:
- Provided 200 families with free, portable cribs;
- Distributed free tablets and two years of internet service through Verizon to 138 families;
- Received a two-year grant from NC DPH for $1 million to address infant mortality; and
- Co-hosted eight community events in Southeast Raleigh that provided more than 300 families with PPE, food, clothing prenatal/postpartum education and baby items.
“The work we’re doing around infant mortality and initiatives like the Best Baby Zone are vital in reducing disparities in birth outcomes in African American communities,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Shinica Thomas. “We are working with our partners and providing valuable resources to the families within the zone.”
The Best Baby Zone hosts monthly town hall meetings that serve as a platform the community to express what's currently working or what areas need improvement as it relates to infant loss in African American communities. The next meeting is planned for Wednesday, May 11 at 6 p.m.
Community Health Needs Assessment
Wake County is consistently ranked as one of North Carolina’s healthiest counties and one of the best places to live, work, learn and play in the country. Part of the reason for this success is the belief that every Wake County resident, regardless of background or neighborhood, deserves an equal opportunity to achieve optimal health and well-being.
Initiatives like the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which is a collaboration between county residents and community partners led by Live Well Wake, helps to ensure the county prioritizes the areas that Wake County residents feel the most strongly about. It is also influenced by the social and economic determinants of health, like behavioral, physical and environmental health, and the differences in geography and demographics throughout Wake County.
The first step of the assessment was completed in fall 2021 when Live Well Wake collected and analyzed statistical data from Wake County residents. Surveys, focus groups and prioritization meetings held in January allowed the CHNA team to identify priority areas of need and related resources to create the final report. The final report and focus areas the county will prioritize for 2022-2025 will be shared in the next few weeks.
To learn more about the assessment and stay up to date on the latest data, visit livewellwake.org