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Connection Blog 

Medical Outreach Alliance Update

Cathleen Small

August 15, 2015

Welcome to my first update on the Medical Outreach Alliance! A litlte backstory to start off: I was one of a group of volunteers doing medical outreach for the Down Syndrome Connection when it was decided that we needed to devote more time and attention to it than a group of volunteers reasonably could. And so, in January I came on board as the Medical Outreach Alliance coordinator. 

Since then, we've successfully made contact with thirty-nine area hospitals that have birthing centers, and we've sent more than 400 literature packets to these hospitals for disbursal to the famlies that welcome a baby with Down syndrome at their facility. The packets include some basic information about Down syndrome and the resources available, and we have them in both English and Spanish versions.

We're getting a wonderful response from the hospitals we're welcoming into the alliance, and they have been passing out the materials to new families. We're also encouraging them to call us when a baby is born so that we may deliver a welcome basket of gifts and information to the family. Several families have had the advantage of this service already.

Our outreach to the hospitals is primarily focused on families receiving a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome for their baby. Our next phase is to reach out to the area obstretricians and geneticists who are working with families who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The moments after diagnosis-- whether birth or prenatal-- are a confusing time that many of us remember well. We hope to be able to reach the growing number of families receiving prenatal diagnosis so that we can provide support in those confusing first days, throughout their pregnancy, and as they welcome their child to the world.

We've also developed training for nurses and other health professionals who are working with new families with a baby with Down syndrome. We hope to begin delivering that to the hospitals in our local alliance in the fall. Several of the hospitals have expressed a great deal of interest in the training, and we're looking forward to connecting with them.

I'm so excited about what's been going in the alliance over this first six months because we are forming excellent, strong connections with our local medicla providers and, by extension, new families. We're becoming a go-to resource for birthing centers and hospitals when a baby with Down syndrome is born, and that's exactly what we had hoped to accomplish.