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Florida's Healthy Start celebrates 30 years of success

12-8-21 Major Sally Davis Leon EMS.JPG
Sachs Media Group
During the Florida Healthy Start birthday event, Leon County EMS Major Sally Davis demonstrated the infant CPR instructional kit that Healthy Start has provided to more than 500 trainees.

Florida's Healthy Start program is celebrating its 30th birthday. Their work to improve the lives of new moms and their babies is touting significant success.

There are 11 Healthy Start regions in Florida. The coalition's Executive Director Cathy Timuta said all of them have a reason for celebration.

"Over the last 30 years, one of our biggest achievements with all of our partners across the State of Florida is the reduction of infant mortality by 32%."

Timuta acknowledged the infant mortality rate for African American babies hasn't gone done quite as much but insisted there are new initiatives to tackle that head-on. She explained that additional work has been made possible with the help of Florida lawmakers during the 2021 lawmaking session.

"We received a generous influx of funding to help cover our Medicaid services. So more families are going to be able to get services this year through Healthy Start. We do not have a legislative ask [for 2022]."

That's a timely development as many state-supported agencies are likely to request more money because of the greater service needs related to the pandemic.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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