I spent Saturday evening with one of my best friends, Dr. Todd Chappell. Dr. Chappell is a 4th year OB-GYN resident here in Memphis. We discussed the ABC 20/20 show which aired Friday evening noting Memphis as the major city with the highest infant mortality rate in the United States.
As background, Todd was employed at the Church Health Center for a couple of years prior to his acceptance and entrance into medical school at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, Memphis, so we have known each other for a decade.
When we picked up Todd and his wife, he had just come off a 12-hour shift at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. During that single shift Todd saw four women who were delivering their babies that day each of whom had only one or two prenatal visits to their doctor. Two other women, both of whom were in their 18th week (halfway through their second trimester), were miscarrying during his shift. Neither of these woman had a single prenatal visit.
Six women total and less than six prenatal visits between them.
I asked Todd what a church could do to reduce infant mortality. Emphatically, Todd said, “Help them make it to their doctor visits. Don’t simply encourage them to get prenatal care, help them receive it.”
The 20/20 piece focused on the work of Hope Presbyterian Church here in Memphis which opened a place named The Oasis of Hope. The story focused on a pregnant teenager named Precious Simpson and the woman who helped her through her pregnancy, Terry Drumwright. Besides being a friend and confidant, Mrs. Drumwright helped Precious get to her prenatal visits.
I am wondering what other congregational efforts are out there to reach out to pregnant girls and women? Maybe you could share your “best practices” here as a way to stimulate a dialogue with others interested in this area.