Saginaw County Department of Public Health

Contact Information

Contact Person: Tawnya Simon
Contact Info:


The Saginaw County Fetal Infant Mortality Review Team began in 1991 with a grant from ACOG/NFIMR and has reviewed every infant death in the County since its inception. The Saginaw FIMR provides the data necessary to show the racial disparity that is occurring regarding infant mortality in Saginaw County. The Saginaw County FIMR remains strong and active with a diverse team membership.

The Great Beginnings Healthy Start Program has remained a strong fighter against racism and health inequity in its battle to eradicate infant mortality and racial disparity in infant mortality.

The Saginaw County Department of Public Health remains a leader in the Community monitoring the health of the Saginaw County residents through collaboration on all levels: local, State and Federal. Although the Health Department serves all Saginaw Community members, special attention is paid to African American women in the county because of the need to reduce the racial disparities in infant mortality.

Organizational Partnerships

Saginaw County Department of Public Health has worked with: Local healthcare providers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, School Districts, Community Mental Health, Authority Law Enforcement, Colleges and Universities, Michigan State University Extension Office, Black Sororities, Faith Based Community, Teen Parent Services, Child Abuse and Neglect Council, Great Start Collaborative, Project LAUNCH, & Civic groups.

Activities & Objectives

The goal of the following activities is to reduce the racial disparity existing between African American and Caucasian infant mortality rates in Saginaw County.

Activities include:

  • Focus groups to determine patient's views of the healthcare system in Saginaw County. Conducted numerous Physician Grand Rounds and community educational session regarding cultural awareness.
  • Public Awareness campaigns regarding infant mortality reduction on issues like signs and symptoms of preterm labor, breastfeeding, and prenatal care among other topics.
  • Hundreds of community awareness events attended to educate the public on infant mortality and racial disparity. Success Great Beginnings Healthy Start Program Instituted risk assessments to be conducted at local OB/GYN providers including the Four P's Plus of Ira Chasnoff.

Best Practices

The best practices of Saginaw County have been unifying those in service professions through joint efforts, such as holding community forums regarding the health of Saginaw County, providing health equity training to providers and keeping health equity as the overarching goal in the Saginaw County Community Health Improvement Plan.

The most successful, to date, would be the convening of Great Beginnings Healthy Start Program past and present participants to discuss in focus groups their experiences in the health care setting regarding racism and then sharing their responses with Medical Providers. This approach gives those in our Community a platform to voice their feelings and views regarding the health care system.

Lessons, Challenges, & Recommendations

Several lessons have been learned:

  • Health Equity education and discussion needs to occur repeatedly to begin to change the learned behaviors and beliefs of the Community.
  • Always make sure that the voices of the families are heard. Their voices are the most powerful catalyst for change.
  • Community the message of Health Equity needs to be done in manner different formats and the message needs to be communicated to the entire community not simply target populations.
  • Reducing infant mortality will only be achieved through a multi-disciplinary holistic approach. Infant mortality is a highly complex issue and requires a multi-faceted, complex solution to reduce it.
  • It is also extremely important to note that initiatives also needed to be derived after extensive assessment of the communities in which they are provided. Each community, although similar, has differing factors that will impact the success of such initiatives.

Challenges include:

  • Decreasing funding streams
  • Higher risk families as a result of the recession being experienced in Michigan, as well as higher crime rates, poverty rates, unemployment rates, and a housing shortage.