Simply Healthcare Plans Collaboration with Indian River County Healthy Start and Broward County Healthy Start Increases South Florida’s Doula Workforce, Strengthens Access to Maternal Care and Improves Birth Outcomes
March 1, 2022
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL — Fifteen individuals earned their doula certifications today after completion of training hosted by Indian River County Healthy Start (IRCHS) in partnership with Broward County Healthy Start (BCHS), thanks to scholarships funded by Simply Healthcare Plans (Simply).
“At the heart of our mission to improve lives and communities is a commitment to ensuring families across South Florida can build a brighter, healthier future for themselves and their babies,” said Holly Prince, President of Simply. “At Simply, we continue to seek opportunities and collaborations that help to increase the workforce of doulas so that expecting mothers have greater access to physical, emotional, and informational support, from pregnancy through birth and then postpartum.”
Simply and IRCHS teamed up in 2021 to create doula certification training opportunities across South Florida to improve birth outcomes through increased access to maternal care. With more trained and experienced doulas in the maternal care workforce, pregnant women have greater access to care and can significantly improve their chances of delivering a healthy baby.
“IRCHS is honored to train new doulas for South Florida communities who are in desperate need for doula support,” said Andrea, CEO of IRCHS. “These doulas will provide much needed assistance to pregnant women, leading to safer, more positive birth outcomes for vulnerable communities.”
National Doula Network (NDN) identified a shortage of certified doulas in Broward and Miami Dade counties, so Simply and IRCHS worked with the Broward County Healthy Start (BCHS) to recruit candidates that are bilingual and/or of minority descent for doula training and certification. This targeted recruitment helps both pregnant women and underemployed individuals looking for career opportunities.
BCHS hosted the two-day, in-person training conducted by IRCHS. Individuals participated in highly interactive sessions and received hands-on experience before receiving their certification. “In my opinion, pregnancy and labor are one of the most vulnerable times for a woman.
The changes her body goes through, the strength needed to deliver the baby and the vulnerability required to trust the medical team can add so much stress to a woman’s life,” said Amanda Lopez, a Simply scholarship recipient. “A doula is the perfect support for pregnant women at that time. As a woman, as a mother, as an immigrant in this country, and as a member of a minority group, I feel blessed to be able to enter this role and support the women in my community.”
The NDN will work with each person who completed training to establish credentials needed to bill through Medicaid. The Healthy Start chapters will work to support and guide the newly trained doulas through any barrier that could inhibit their impact on the community. “As a mother of six, I’ve experienced pregnancies and would love the opportunity to ensure that other moms have a beautiful, healthy, safe and sound experience before, during and after birth,” said LeeBetsy Charon, a Simply scholarship recipient.
The IRCHS’s doula program has observed better birth outcomes with the pregnant mothers they support compared to birth outcomes in the rest of the county. With their patients, the program has experienced a reduction in preterm birth, a decrease in cesarean sections and fewer babies born at a low birth weight. The newly trained doulas come at a critical time as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently released a report indicating that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rates among the world’s developed countries.
About Indian River County Healthy Start
Indian River County Healthy Start is a non-profit organization that works to asses and fill gaps and illuminate and eliminate barriers in order to improve the maternal and child health system. Our mission is to establish and support a local system of care that optimizes the health of moms, babies and their families. Our vision is to see every infant has the opportunity for good health and positive early learning experiences that unfold within strong family relationships.
About Simply Healthcare Plans
Simply Healthcare is a Managed Care Plan that offers plans in Florida for residents eligible for Medicaid, Medicare and Florida Healthy Kids benefits. To learn more, visit www.SimplyHealthcarePlans.com.