Thrive by IU Health

June 01, 2023

Working to reduce infant mortality

Working to reduce infant mortality

In 2020, Indiana had the ninth-highest infant mortality rate in the country, but as bad as Indiana is, Marion County is even worse. Just 23 ZIP codes in the state account for 27% of infant mortality, and 13 of those ZIP codes are in Marion County.

Cradle Indy, a place-based community initiative founded in 2022 with support from IU Health Foundation’s Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, is gearing up to reduce infant mortality in Marion County. And the program’s first director is Terri Lee, appointed in late 2022.

Lee has been on a listening tour, meeting with stakeholders in Marion County to hear where gaps and opportunities exist. “Infant mortality speaks to access to healthcare, economics and social determinants of health,” Lee said. “Our infant mortality rate is astronomically high, especially when you stratify for race.”

Lee’s first task is assembling a coalition of parents, caregivers and healthcare professionals to build capacity and capabilities in their neighborhood based on the priorities of the community. “You can’t do anything for the community without the community,” Lee said. “I’m a passenger in a car the community is driving.”

Cradle Indy has been made possible by a range of donors and supporters—from parents to business leaders to Congressman André Carson. “This important work is fundamental to IU Health’s vision to make Indiana a healthier state,” said Jami Marsh, VP of Philanthropy and Strategy for the IU Health Foundation.

Once Lee has gathered input from community stakeholders, she will refine Cradle Indy’s strategic plan. “I want people to see Cradle as one of those community agents they can trust,” Lee said. “We want to save babies, support families and see our community thrive.”

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