Grant’s goal: Cut death rate for infants

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, November 27, 2018

By Chris Moore


BEAUMONT — With help from the Jefferson County Commissioners’ Court, Lamar University is applying for a grant that may help curb the county’s high infant mortality rate.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Everette “Bo” Alfred inquired about applying for the grant that would be aimed at lowering the infant mortality rate.

Alfred said the zip codes 77642 (downtown Port Arthur area), 77705 (Fannett, Cheek, LaBelle areas) and 77703 (northeastern Beaumont) had infant mortality rates that doubled the national average.

“The national average is 5 per 1,000 live births,” Alfred said. “We were running around 10.7 per 1,000 live births. It’s quite shocking. It affords us an opportunity with our public health department and with the University of Texas San Antonio to do a five-year grant and could possibly help the whole county, but help those areas.”

Assistant to the County Judge Fred Jackson said the county sent out a letter of support and is awaiting a memorandum of understanding in return.

“Lamar University is wanting to get this grant and then enter into a memorandum of understanding that nurses from Lamar would accompany our new mobile health unit to these areas to service these women,” Jackson said. “They’ll try to assist them in delivering healthy babies and so forth.”

Jackson said that if Lamar receives the grant, the county would enter an agreement with the nursing department.

“The agreement would be similar to the one we have with the nursing department and their pharmacy students who work in our health department and get training,” Jackson said. “We can use that mobile health unit for that as well.”

In September, the county received a grant for $463,000 to build a state-of-the-art customized emergency mobile unit. The aim of the unit is to improve the access to care for people where they live as well as improve the aspect of preventative medicine.”

Texas’ infant mortality rate has been the topic of conversation in the national media after a report by Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force erroneously stated that Texas’ rate nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012. A new study in obstetrics and gynecology found the previous study wrongly categorized nearly half of the deaths.