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GRHIC to Host Maternal Health Symposium

The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center (GRHIC) will host its first Maternal Health Symposium on June 23-24, 2022, in the President’s Dining Room on the Mercer University Macon Campus. The two-day symposium will host health care professionals from medical schools, public health, and rural hospitals from across the state to advance the dialogue on maternal health initiatives that are improving outcomes. Specifically, presenters will discuss state data on maternal health, visiting nurses’ programs, telehealth in the space of maternal health, maternal mental health, as well as resources and research programs aimed at improving maternal health in Georgia.

Jennifer Barkin, Ph.D., Mercer University School of Medicine, will be one of the presenters covering the Barkin Index for Maternal Functioning (BIMF). The BIMF assesses how new mothers are adjusting to their new roles as mothers putting the focus on the mother, her well-being, and optimal adjustment. This index is currently used in commercial research, occupational therapy to increase skill-building, and maternal mental health clinical assessments.

“We recognize how vulnerable the postpartum period is for the mother. Changes in the body, hormonal changes, priorities; an abundance of life changes. Biological, psychosocial, and environmental factors also impact mood during this transitional period. Depression and anxiety are equal in prevalence and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening at every well-child visit; however, this may not be happening,” said Dr. Barkin. “The index is not just a tool for a clinical assessment like other tools available, it addresses the whole person and is useful in measuring changes over time to show how well mothers are responding to treatments and interventions that are in place.”

“We are so excited to bring together state impact leaders, like Dr. Barkin, to find out what is working in Georgia,” said Glenda Grant, GRHIC executive director. “We all hear about the problems in Maternal Healthcare but that discussion is not always followed up by what is working well. We have community leaders, researchers, and practitioners from rural and urban Georgia who are making a difference in their communities and we want to shine a light on their success and offer collaboration to other communities who may see that they can duplicate the successful program at home. We believe this will be the first of many collaborative events to initiate sustainable change for mothers in Georgia.”

The Center is excited to host this event and open a dialogue on maternal health programs and resources available in Georgia. If you are interested in hearing more about the Barkin Index, please visit the podcast link below, and join us for the Maternal Health Symposium. It is the Center’s goal that this symposium can further collaborative efforts throughout the state to increase positive maternal health outcomes for a healthier Georgia.

New Tools to Support New Moms: An Interview with Jennifer Barkin, PhD