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Increasing access to prenatal care

Betty Jordan
Betty Jordan of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is a national leader in maternal and newborn health. Photo: Howard Korn

The infant mortality rate in the United States has plummeted during the past half century, but it remains one of the highest among developed countries. The threat is particularly high among minority populations—black babies in the U.S. are twice as likely to die as are white babies, an alarming disparity that researchers attribute to lack of access to information and resources.

Betty Jordan, a national leader in maternal and newborn health and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, has spent more than 25 years working with expectant and new mothers. Believing systemic breakdowns are a primary cause of infant mortality, she has worked to improve healthcare access, especially for young, low-income and minority women.

"Over the years, my practice has grown from inpatient care, taking care of high-risk pregnant women, and moved along a continuum to now looking at systems issues and how we can improve healthcare systems," Jordan says.

Jordan consults with the Baltimore City Health Department for the Fetal and Infant Mortality Team, examining care delivery processes to help resolve obstacles that prevent mothers and children from receiving prenatal care.

She also works closely with a free mobile information service called Text4baby, which delivers messages about maternal and child health to expectant and new mothers. The program's more than 250,0000 subscribers receive three updates each week on topics such as the impact of smoking during pregnancy, or whether it's safe to get a flu shot when you're pregnant.

Jordan's work gives her fodder for teaching the next generation of nurses, which has always been one of her passions. She challenges her undergraduates to consider innovative healthcare delivery systems; she exposes her graduate students to projects at the city health department, offering a glimpse into the real-world applications of their coursework.

"I feel I bring examples from my practice into the classroom, and they are examples I have lived," she says. "I can really speak to the importance of evaluation of practice and why it's challenging, but necessary, so that evidence is guiding our care delivery."

Read more about Betty Jordan in Johns Hopkins Nursing Magazine

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