Women of reproductive age already have a powerful ally. It is the Healthy Start Center, a project that offers a wide variety of health services to this population in great need. And all, free of cost.
Under the federal auspices of Healthy Start and under the administration of local organizations Urban Strategies and the Third Mission Institute, the new entity brings together first-rate professionals who channel aid for women and coordinate for them important services from government agencies, community organizations and based on faith.
As Cristina Díaz Hernández, co-director of Comienzo Saludable and Urban Strategies, explained, this program has offices strategically located in seven towns on the island, in order to directly serve communities with limited economic resources and limited health services, without the need for a health plan.
The main requirement? That the family receiving the assistance resides in the towns of Ciales, Jayuya, Ponce, Salinas, Santa Isabel, Guayama or Arroyo.
For her part, the Coordinator of Comprehensive Care of the Ponce Region, Doris Lugo Muñoz, explained that these services are aimed at “adult women of reproductive age who are contemplating a pregnancy, women already in a state of pregnancy or mothers with infants. from 0 to 18 months ”.
The official also assured that the services can be requested by parents of children in the aforementioned ages and their mother does not necessarily have to be a participant. The services may also be extended to pregnant adolescents, with the authorization and representation of their parents.
Empathy from the start
As both highlighted, the majority of the employees who attend to the participants are also women: all, professionals who become facilitators in the search for quick solutions to the problems and complaints of their clients.
These range from communication links with complementary providers such as vaccination centers, WIC and mental health support centers, to referrals to breastfeeding education and orientation groups, among many others.
As they explained, when a participant arrives at the Healthy Care Offices, an individual plan is designed to meet the needs of each mother. That plan can range from medical care, mental health care, educational services, or even transportation services.
With these services, the entity seeks that women, whether they are workers or not, have an educational process that allows them to take control of their health. “An individual plan is made for each of our participants, aimed at home visits, coordination of services that can be vaccination, breastfeeding, education for healthy parenting, transportation to appointments and other health services,” they added.
To maximize attention and immediate solution, the center has integrated public agencies, private entities and non-profit institutions to reinforce the professional support network, among which the Department of Health, the School of Medicine, the University stand out. Carlos Albizu, as well as the March of Dimes and Centros Sor Isolina Ferre, among others.
For her part, Edna Acosta Pérez, co-director of the Healthy Start Program – Third Mission Institute, explained that this section is a university research entity attached to the Albizu University and that it aims to provide alternatives and tools that promote family well-being.
One of the topics that are most developed in this comprehensive service is related to healthy parenting, whose objective is to improve the quality of life of families, and especially of minors.
Although there is still no scientific evidence that certifies a relationship between the reduction of cases of abuse and the tools offered by support in education for healthy parenting, Acosta assured that “significant changes have been observed in some of the participating households.”
“We can observe these changes,” reiterated the official, mentioning that this year over 350 families remain among the beneficiaries of the institute, while inviting more women to contact them so that they can benefit from the services of this organization. “There is still room to serve more families,” he said.
They have reinvented
“For us, the pandemic has not been a limitation, since we have had to go virtual, but maintaining sensitivity when working with participants,” added Doris Lugo Muñoz, coordinator of Comprehensive Care, Ponce region.
For her part, Glamarie Ferrán Rivera, who coordinates Comprehensive Care from the municipalities of Juana Díaz and Santa Isabel, assured that they have transcended social platforms to impact the communities, to whom they offer services in a virtual way, whether they are orientations, the interviews refer to other services, transportation being the only one that so far is carried out in person.
The latter offers participants transportation to medical appointments or complementary services, within and outside the town of their residence.
To join the network of beneficiaries of the Healthy Start Center, access the official page https://comienzosaludable.org/ and complete the virtual contact form that the menu provides.
This tool will assign you to one of the coordinators, who will initiate the communication and interview to work on your service plan. You can also call 787-296-9961 or access the Facebook page: Centro Comienzo Saludable.