Marquette University News Release

$1.5 million HRSA grant awarded to Marquette Neighborhood Health Center

September 28, 2011

Nurse midwifery and breast-feeding support programs to be developed for underserved populations

Milwaukee — The Marquette Neighborhood Health Center has been awarded a five-year, $1,477,828 grant to implement a nurse-midwife practice and develop a breast-feeding support program for underserved, urban, largely at-risk African American women. The MNHC is a nurse-managed community health center on the Marquette University campus run by the university’s College of Nursing that provides primary care to vulnerable populations of mostly Medicare and Medicaid patients and serves as a clinical education site for nursing students.

The project, “Marquette University — ‘Improving Maternal and Infant Outcomes’” was funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing. Martty Berner serves as project director.

To provide underserved, pregnant women with access to prenatal care, the MNHC will hire two certified full-time midwives by early January and a third midwife in the third year of the grant. According to 2008 data from the Wisconsin Public Health and Policy Institute, the infant mortality rate for women who have no prenatal care is approximately seven times higher than for women who have adequate prenatal care. The infant mortality rate for black infants in Milwaukee is equal to or worse than that of many developing countries, such as Botswana, Jamaica, Jordan and Bahrain, according to researchers.

The second component of the grant is to develop a breast-feeding support program to increase breast-feeding initiation and continuation rates among African American pregnant women. Since research has shown that breast-feeding is nutritionally, immunologically, psychologically, socially and economically beneficial, the expectant mothers will receive breast-feeding support and education from peer breast-feeding counselors. The peer counselors will have successfully breast-fed their own children and will make regular contact with women both before and after having their babies to help the women and their families understand the importance of breast-feeding and receive assistance for specific problems they may encounter.

Health access and outcomes are further compromised by the poverty of the area and clients served by the MNHC. There are nine zip codes in the central city of Milwaukee that are home to the poorest residents of the city, and the MNHC, located in the 53233 zip code, is in one such neighborhood. Seventy-nine percent of MNHC’s clients live in the zip codes with the highest levels of poverty in Milwaukee.

“This grant will help reduce health disparities for minority women in Milwaukee and enable more women to give birth to healthy babies,” said Margaret Faut Callahan, dean of nursing at Marquette. “In addition to expanding prenatal and OB/GYN services at the Marquette Neighborhood Health Center, we estimate that the midwifery practice will provide more than 100 clinical rotations for student nurse midwives over five years.”

“In the few years of operating the Marquette Neighborhood Health Center, it has become apparent that the continuum of services needs to be expanded to more fully extend to the very youngest people both before and immediately after birth to ensure that they receive a healthy start in life,” said Berner. “This need has been identified by staff as well as clients.”

MNHC nurse practitioners provide a wide range of primary health care and minor acute care services to adults, children, infants and families. They are advanced practice nurses with licensure to prescribe medications, order and evaluate laboratory and imaging tests and make referrals to specialty services as needed. The center is located 1834 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Call 414-933-9100 or visit

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