The Getting to 1 Coalition

By Celeste Smith, Concerned Community Member
Guest Column

Nothing is more important than keeping our young children safe and healthy.

That’s why I am a founding member of the Getting to 1 Coalition, a
community collaborative that works to improve access to healthcare for
pregnant women and improve infant health outcomes in Lucas County. Through
my work with the Coalition, I’ve learned just how much work we have left to

Ohio has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country – 7.06
deaths per 1,000 births. The infant mortality rate among Lucas County African Americans was 15.9 per 1,000 live births, compared to 9.4 per 1,000 live births overall continues to be unacceptable. We can and we must do better for our children. We must work harder to provide pregnant mothers and young children the access to essential prenatal and postnatal care they need.

Hospitals and health systems play a huge role in this equation, providing
vitally important care to moms and babies alike. However, due to persistent
financial challenges, many hospitals are struggling to continue providing a
number of services, including maternal and infant care.

Maternity wards are among the most difficult to staff and costly to maintain, so when hospitals face financial struggles, mothers often pay the price. Sure enough, new research shows that nearly 270 rural hospitals closed their obstetrics programs between 2011 and 2021. I can’t stand the idea of this happening here in Ohio, where our infant and maternal health outcomes are already lacking.

Our hospitals provide lifesaving care to mothers and their children. We
need to give them our support so that they can continue providing the care
we count on.