Metro Health working to improve birth outcomes for homeless women

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is trying to improve healthy birth outcomes by reaching out to some of the most vulnerable in the community — pregnant homeless women.

Vanessa Rodriguez, neighborhood engagement supervisor with Healthy Start, said more data needs to be collected to find out just how many pregnant homeless women there are in the county, but she knows they are out there.

“This is a special population that needs more research. They are often hidden in the shadows. It’s a pop(ulation) that goes unnoticed,” she said. “Living from family member to family member, you don’t know where you're going to stay the next night. That can add on additional stress on top of that stress in a pregnancy,” she said.

On Tuesday, the city will host an event geared toward linking the homeless population with resources, helping them find free clinics to get prenatal care and providing information about substance abuse and addiction. The city even helped them figure out how to get rides to doctors, connecting them with jobs and finding homes.

“Sometimes they might lose their babies due to high risk. Those numbers might not get counted if they are not seeing a doctor,” Rodriguez said.

According to the Bexar County Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Collaborative, 1 out of 3 infants born in Texas withdrawing from opioids is born in Bexar County. And opioid overdoses are the leading cause of death in women in the first year following a pregnancy. It’s still unclear just how homelessness plays into those numbers.

Rodriguez hopes to work with local agencies that conduct the annual homeless count to add a question about pregnancy for women.

The event is from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Center for Healthcare Services at 601 N. Frio Street. Fifteen different agencies will be attending, and it is open to both men and women.

The event is part of Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, which runs Nov. 10-18.

About the Author:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.