The coronavirus pandemic gripping the world is affecting some of metro Detroit’s most vulnerable population: expecting mothers.
Over the last few weeks, many pregnant women have found themselves in an extraordinary situation by missing regular obstetrical visits for fear of becoming exposed to the virus, having increased concern over not having a birthing partner, dreading risks to their baby during or after giving birth, and staying isolated at home without food or supplies. Unlike some elective medical procedures that have been delayed, pregnancy and delivery can’t wait; additionally, hospital systems may not have the capacity to work one-on-one with these vulnerable patients.
Wayne State University’s Office of Women’s Health and Make Your Date Detroit, a free program for expectant mothers, is available to help.
Through interviewing women in the program, Make Your Date team members have found that more than one-third of pregnant women need food assistance, 25% need help with baby items and 25% require transportation. To assist in these needs, Make Your Date has established a COVID-19 response team.
“We’ve assembled resources for food, transportation, medical and mental health support, and even items for the baby. With our volunteers, we will stay in contact with these moms — by phone or online — to help them through the coronavirus scare,” said Office of Women’s Health Associate Vice President Sonia Hassan, M.D., who is a professor of maternal-fetal medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We are confident that this effort will make a tremendous impact on an extremely vulnerable population at this time.”
The program’s goal is to guarantee that pregnant mothers have the resources, information and support they need during this crisis. Any pregnant women who wish to participate in the program should continue to keep existing appointments with their current provider, as this is not a medical or clinical service.
Volunteers will contact up to five women who have signed up to be connected. Volunteers will then regularly contact expectant moms throughout their pregnancy and after they deliver.
To sign up to participate in this program, pregnant moms can visit makeyourdate.org, call 313-577-1000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A Make Your Date volunteer will call participants and connect them to what they need.
“One of our team members will contact you, explain the program’s details, and take you through the list of medical, food, transportation and other resources you may need,” said Dr. Hassan. “Of course, we are also here for you if you just need someone to talk to.”
Previous research shows that coordinated prenatal care and targeted interventions, when necessary, can greatly reduce the risks of pregnancy and preterm birth.
"In a typical year, Make Your Date Detroit works with physicians to ensure all patients are offered apporpriate tests or treatments, and coordinates with insurers and public health leaders to provide easy access to prenatal care and coverage," said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. "This year looks drastically different because of the coronavirus pandemic, and I'm so proud that the wonderful people behind this program are going above and beyond to give these vulnerable women and their babies the support they need in these unprecedented times."
A coalition of major medical institutions, universities, foundations, community groups and insurance companies, Make Your Date has built a caring and supportive team dedicated to turning the tide against preterm birth.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with Make Your Date,” Vernice Anthony said on behalf of the Southeast Michigan Perinatal Quality Improvement Coalition. “During this time when our communities are overwhelmed with coronavirus priorities, we cannot forget our pregnant women and their needs. Make Your Date is addressing many of these needs by providing support, resources, food and someone to [offer emotional] care. With the stay-at-home directive, isolation and the inability to get out is creating real problems for pregnant women that could have lasting impacts on childbirth and the mother and infant.”
“We can’t think of a better partner or a better voice to team up with during this pandemic than Make Your Date,” added Kara Hamilton-McGraw, executive director of maternal-child health, program development, community relations and government affairs for March of Dimes. “They are committed to reducing the rate of preterm birth all year, and especially now. We are honored to have them fighting for these women and their children today, and always.”