Bethesda Inc. Awards $3.2 Million Grant to Improve Health Outcomes for Infants and Moms

Cincinnati, OH ---  Bethesda Inc. announced today it has made a $3.2 million, three-year grant intended to dramatically reduce the number of premature births, a major contributor to  infant mortality.  Moms and their families will guide the work through the combined efforts of Cincinnati Children’s, Every Child Succeeds and TriHealth.  Cincinnati Children’s will provide additional funding for the program.

“The need is urgent,” said James Pearce, Bethesda Inc. board chairman. “Hamilton County has an infant mortality rate more than 60 percent higher than the national average.  We believe this innovative approach, in conjunction with other programs to reduce infant mortality now underway in the County and statewide, can result in healthier babies." 

“Babies at the greatest risk of dying are those born the earliest – the tiny, tiny babies,” said Jim Greenberg, M.D., and co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s.  “If we can extend the time of their birth by just a week, it makes a big difference.”

The plan, now being developed, seeks to transform how women and infants receive health and social care – improving infants’ chances for a healthy term and first six months of life. Since moms are helping to develop the model, it has the potential to break down barriers that keep pregnant women and new moms from getting needed care.

“Our work will be developed hand-in-hand with moms,” said Judith Van Ginkel, president, ECS.  “Their voices and needs are the driving force in the program. Our vision is to create a seamless, community-based system for pregnant women and infants to receive health and social care.” 

Key Program Features


  • The program addresses unmet community needs through filling gaps in pre- and post-natal care by:
  • Better identification and screening of pregnant women with higher risk for premature birth.
  • Using research to map moms’ journeys from pregnancy through the first six months of their babies’ lives.
  • Linking previously unconnected health and social services.
  • Creating a community-based support network to encourage healthy behaviors that lower the risk of prematurity – a key factor contributing to infant mortality.  
  • A key is to build trust in health care and community services available to moms and their families.


“The more we set aside our assumptions, the better we can encourage moms to be frank with us,” said Michael Marcotte, M.D., maternal fetal medicine specialist at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital.  “So often in health care, the health care team decides.  Now, we’re creating a much more trusting environment for women and families, where we listen first to what they want and what they believe will work for them.”

The effort is expected to reduce premature births and enhance infant care, with goals that include reducing emergency department visits and saving significant healthcare costs locally. The plan is then to offer the program model to communities outside Cincinnati.