A case manager has given details for signing up for a crucial nutrition program and other family services for new or expecting parents. Pat Simmons, a Family Case Manager with the Morgan County Health Department, works to help combat the infant mortality rate in the State of Illinois through the Department of Public Health. As a recent guest on the WLDS “AM Conversation” program, Simmons explained who the Family Case Management System serves.
“We serve families up to 200% of the federal poverty level. If there is a pregnant woman in the family or a child under the age of 1, we offer our services throughout Morgan County. In Family Case Management, we collaborate with not only other programs within the Health Department but throughout the community to link families to services that might be beneficial for them to obtain the needed services – including WIC, which is a nutrition and education program designed to supplement food supply within households.”
Simmons detailed the changes that the WIC program has seen in recent years. “The WIC program is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They have had some changes where they are providing vegetables and fruits throughout the program, not just milk, eggs, cheese, and formula. We also really stress the importance of breastfeeding as the first means of feeding an infant.”
Simmons says that outreach is a major part of the Family Case Management program. “We receive referrals from our partners like Early Childhood programs, local OB-GYN offices, [local] pediatricians, and we receive referrals from Passavant Area Hospital, as well. We do go out into the community and assist the families directly with any barriers they may have to service such as transportation or lack of insurance. Or the instances where there are questions like ‘What am I going to do with my baby? I have to work full time. Who’s going to watch my baby?’ We provide that guidance to families and link them to other social service agencies that might benefit that whole entire family.”
The Family Case Management program also provides educational tools for new parents and families of all sizes. Simmons goes on to describe the environment that the Morgan County Health Department and Family Case Management tries to provide for all residents who use their services. “Because we are such a small community and a small health department, we pride ourselves on trying to provide that continuity of care – following that family from start to finish. Even after these children whom we’ve had on our caseloads, we still refer to them long after the age of 1 as ‘one of my kids.'”
Family Case Management has also recently been dealing with immunizations as part of their program. With measles on the rise, Simmons encourages parents to start children as soon as possible on the shot regiment that is scheduled for children right away.
For more information about the WIC Program, Family Case Management, or the Morgan County Health Department – visit them at 345 West State Street, call them at 245-5111, or visit them on the web at www.morganhd.com. Translation services for non-English speaking families or for the deaf/hard of hearing and visually impaired are also available.