The core of Healthier Moms and Babies’ mission is improving outcomes for babies born in Allen County. We have been lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside other organizations who share our passion for this cause. With that in mind, we reached out to Patti Hays, CEO of AWS Foundation, to learn a little more about what drives her and her work.
I remember as a nursing student seeing my first birth in a rural West Virginia hospital. Since that time as a 19 year old and through my 40-plus years as a nurse, the wonder of new life never ceases to amaze. Each parent has hopes and dreams for their child; hopes and dreams that are renewed with each milestone whether it is a first smile, rolling over for the first time or sitting up on their own. For some, reaching those milestones doesn’t come easily. For a few, it doesn’t come at all.
One of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. While the severity of a disability varies greatly, many last a lifetime. At AWS Foundation, understanding what puts an individual at risk for an intellectual, developmental or physical disability plays an important role as we advocate for individuals and families living with disabilities. We collaborate with and fund the work of nonprofit organizations throughout northeast Indiana seeking out opportunities to help individuals with disabilities reach their full potential.
The major cause of death and lifelong disability in infants world-wide according to the CDC is neural tube defects. This error in the development of the brain and spine results in the conditions of spina bifida and anencephaly. Through the simple step of taking folic acid daily before and during pregnancy the incidence of these conditions can be dramatically reduced. Educating pregnant moms on the importance of taking folic acid as well as quitting smoking, the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy, the need for prenatal care along with recognizing signs of premature labor all contribute to the chances of a healthy birth.
Sharing preventive tools and communicating their benefits loudly to reach a wide audience across our community promotes understanding and action. With each step, we open the door to better outcomes for those needing help and reduce the risk of birth defects. From better prenatal care to early diagnosis, when we identify a newborn struggling to reach a milestone we can improve outcomes for a healthy start in life.
AWS Foundation is proud to invest in making programs, services and the community open and accessible to all people, to ensure a more inclusive future for everyone. It starts with our hopes and dreams for each newborn.
CEO, AWS Foundation