New Duval Women's Health Care Clinic Opens In Area With High Infant Mortality Rate

Aug 22, 2016

Updated: 08/24/16 at 4:15 p.m.

Duval County residents were invited to tour a newly opened women’s health center on Pearl Street, just north of downtown, Monday.

The Magnolia Project Oasis is a federally funded women’s community health center. Inside the center, there’s a juice bar up front and a room for yoga classes.

Jacksonville Democratic State Representative and CEO of Agape Community Health, Mia Jones, said the goal of the primary care clinic is to enhance women’s overall well-being.

Oasis is one of three Agape clinics, and two more are scheduled to open this year. She said the clinics accept Medicaid from all providers.

“We’ll make sure that those patients get the quality care that they need, but in addition to that if it’s just a commercial payer, we will do that, and then if you have no insurance at all, we will provide services to you on a sliding fee scale,” she said.

The Magnolia Project Oasis is a federally funded women’s community health center. Inside the center, there’s a juice bar up front and a room for yoga classes.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

The Oasis clinic is a branch of the Magnolia Project, a Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition  initiative, which works  to combat infant mortality. Magnolia is focusing its efforts in what’s called “Heath Zone 1,” an area encompassing many downtown zipcodes where the infant mortality rate is higher.

While the number of infants dying in Florida is declining, Duval’s is higher than the state average, mainly in the Urban Core and on the north and west sides of town. Sabrina Willis is a mental health counselor or what’s called a “Freedom Coach.”.

“The goal in a nutshell is to get women as healthy as possible — via emotionally, mentally, financially, socially — so to minimize that stress so when she does become pregnant that the stresses that contribute to a birth are minimized,” she said.

Before the clinic tour Monday, Jacksonville advocates discussed infant mortality.

Willis led the conversation. Representatives from women's and children’s organizations as well as nurses and a doula were all in the room.

Duval County Health Department data show premature births and low birth weights are the  leading causes of death. Health officials say socioeconomic status and stress are contributing to small babies. African-American babies are also three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthday.

Jacksonville University nursing professor Nancy O’Rourke, who was part of Monday’s conversation, studies community health in the Urban Core.

“We saw stress at some of the elementary schools where many of the children in Health Zone 1 transfer from one school to another school up to four to five times in one year,” she said.

The group also talked about keeping its own mental health needs in check because service providers can experience secondary trauma or “compassion fatigue” from dealing with other people’s hardships, which could affect the quality of care.

Willis said Monday’s conversation was an opportunity to learn from each other and be reminded of the work ahead.

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Editor's note: The Magnolia Project is an initiative of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. This article was updated for clarity.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride