West Philadelphia: A Beacon of Light for Expectant Mothers

Case Manager Ashanta Walter answered phone calls and took care of paperwork while in her office.

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It happens all too often. A young woman finds out she is pregnant and does not know what to do. She does not know where to turn and who to ask for help. She may be scared and feels alone in the process because her family is not quite sure how to handle everything either. She does not have to fear or feel alone any longer. There is now an organization she can turn to for that helping hand she so desperately needs, the Maternity Care Coalition.

The Maternity Care Coalition is an organization that advocates the good health and positive development of children during their early-childhood years. They are focused on public policy in regards to women’s health including, access to care, early-childhood education, health care reform, insurance and maternal mental health.

The organization has walk-in locations all throughout the city including one on 39th and Lancaster in West Philadelphia.

The Maternity Care Coalition runs Healthy Start West, a funded MOMobile  that provides health and social services, such as case management, depression screenings, home visits and more.

Case Manager Ashanta Walter answered phone calls and took care of paperwork while in her office.
Case Manager Ashanta Walter answered phone calls and took care of paperwork while in her office.

Jakasha Johnson, the site coordinator, states that the goal of Healthy Start West is to make sure that the mothers who come in have a healthy pregnancy.

“A healthy pregnancy leads to a healthy baby,” said Johnson.

The target demographic for Healthy Start West is mothers who are expecting or have babies that are six-months old or younger.

Case manager Sherita Hogan explained that it is not only about the mother and her baby. There is an even bigger picture that includes the entire family.

“We help the entire family get involved,” said Hogan.  “We feel that if we help the entire family, it is better for the expectant mother and the child moving forward.”

Hogan believes that the family can help make the transition to motherhood as smooth as possible.

Healthy Start West is still very much involved in the lives of the mother and the child even after birth.  Hogan explained that after the child is six-weeks old and the mother has developed her own routine, they jump right back in.

“We help to make sure the mother knows what her child should be doing developmentally at various stages of infancy ending at 2-years old,” said Hogan.

Those formative two years are very important in the development of a child physically, mentally and emotionally.

At Healthy Start West, they do development screenings with the child and if they feel the child is falling behind, then they are referred to outside sources.

Education on some health issues could mean the difference between life and death and the organization is there to help expectant mother learn about these health issues. They educate about breast-feeding, immunizations and other child care issues.

“The staff here is really great but even they need an extra hand, that’s where interns come in,”  said Shonique Andrews, a Temple University student who is interning at Healthy Start West.

Site Coordinator, Jakasha Johnson (left) helped Sherita Hogan log into their system.
Site Coordinator, Jakasha Johnson (left) helped Sherita Hogan log into their system.

Andrews participates in something called the Health Awareness Board, which explains topics that Healthy Start thinks the community should know.

“Last month, we focused on educating the community on safe sleep,” said Andrews. “This month, we are focused on breast cancer awareness.”

Healthy Start West has an abundance of services to make things easier for the expectant mother and her child.  When an expectant mother has nowhere to turn, there will always be a beacon of light shining on 39th and Lancaster welcoming them in with open arms.