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The WeCare Program provides evidence-based health education and connects women to community resources before their babies are born.

WeCare project aims to improve lives of pregnant women, Hoosier babies

Health coaches partner with women to help reduce SIDS and infant mortality through intervention

Infant mortality rates remain concerning despite a better understanding of risk factors and improvements in access to health care. Hoosier babies are faring worse than the national U.S. average.

In an effort to combat this, researchers from the IU School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute have created a program, called WeCare, funded by IU Health, the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), the Indiana State Department of Health, and the IU Simon Cancer Center. The WeCare Program provides evidence-based health education and connects women to community resources before their babies are born.

This project, led by Dr. Debra Litzelman, has provided tremendous help to women in Indiana, especially in Marion and Delaware counties. Even though the main target is pregnant women with low socioeconomic status, WeCare is open to others who wants to know what resources are available in the area.

Dr. Debra Litzelman

The overarching goal of this project is to reduce infant mortality by partnering with community organizations and providing health coaches to women to raise awareness both of risks and resources. The health coaches partner with women throughout pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy. To help the women, coaches get to know their situation and provide the appropriate resources which can be food, clothing, healthcare, mental health, and other necessities. Currently, WeCare Indiana has coaches at OpenDoor, HealthNet, Raphael, and Eskenazi health clinics, Shepherd Community Center and is partnered with the Indiana Hunger Network.

To collect health records of each woman (there are over 1,300 women enrolled in the system) and manage five different groups of coaches, the researchers use REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) which is administered by IU UITS Research Technologies. With REDCap the WeCare research team can keep the data securely and get it in real-time. In particular, the WeCare team can keep better track of the current participants and identify areas where there are greater needs so that they can know where to concentrate resources or find more. “REDCap has been a life saver for this project," says Rachel Gruber, WeCare data manager.

For more information about WeCare and resources in the area, mobile app WeCare Plus Indiana is available for free download in the iOS App Store and Android Play Store.