In 2016, there were 10,870 babies born in Georgia whose mothers began prenatal care late or not at all, according to Georgia OASIS, a database for health data information and statistics. The best start for a healthy pregnancy begins as soon as the woman finds out she is pregnant, preferably in the first 3 months of pregnancy (first trimester), but not all women begin prenatal care in the first trimester. No money or insurance, lack of transportation, unable to find a doctor and difficulty navigating the Medicaid application system, are a few reasons why the prenatal woman seeks care late or not at all.

In pregnancy, a woman can expect to see her doctor often – once a month until the 7th month, then every 2 weeks until the last month of pregnancy, then weekly until delivery. If the woman is medically high risk, she may see her doctor more often. Monitoring and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, early detection of chronic medical conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, and treatment of infections and certain medical conditions are reasons why it’s so important to start prenatal care early and continue that care throughout pregnancy.

Cobb & Douglas Public Health’s Perinatal Case Management (PCM) Program provides services that help reduce the barriers to prenatal care and allows the prenatal women to get into care early. Our services focus on helping women with: Pregnancy Medicaid, linkage to a doctor, pregnancy education, and referrals to community/public resources based on a needs assessment. The two main highlights of the PCM Program are Presumptive Eligibility Medicaid and our WellStar Obstetrics (OB) provider partnerships.

Women seeking Medicaid for their pregnancy are best served through their local health department than placing an application online or through the Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS). If eligible, Presumptive Eligibility Medicaid allows the woman to get started with prenatal care immediately, usually the same day she applies. Her application is then forward to DFCS for a final Medicaid decision which typically takes two weeks to 30 days. Additionally, PCM staff works closely with the State Medicaid office to push a pregnant woman’s Medicaid to the pharmacy system. This process allows the pharmacy to view the eligible Medicaid in their system and process the prescription for pickup, usually within 24 hours.

The second highlight of the PCM program is the OB provider partnerships. The PCM Program has long-term, sustained partnerships with several OB providers that deliver at WellStar Cobb, WellStar Kennestone and WellStar Douglas Hospitals. These physician practices provide affordable, discounted prenatal care to women who are not eligible for Medicaid due to income or citizenship or that do not have other types of health insurance.

One additional, and recently added service to help the prenatal woman is dental care provided through the health department. This service is done during the second trimester (13th week to 28th week of pregnancy). It requires a Dental Attestation form to be completed by the woman’s doctor before services are provided.

If you would like more information about our pregnancy services through the PCM Program, contact Rose Bishop at 770-514-2376, rose.bishop@dph.ga.gov or visit www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.org