The City of South Bend has announced a new partnership with the Michiana Health Information Network (MHIN) that uses a data-driven approach to target outreach to those residents most at risk of lead exposure.
The collaboration is intended to increase the number of residents being tested for lead in South Bend, focusing on populations vulnerable to lead poisoning—children and pregnant women. Though the CDC recommends universal lead screenings for children under 7, in the last 15 years only 8% of children in St. Joseph County have received lead screenings. This partnership would see that treating physicians are alerted about their at-risk patients and recommend early testing.
“Lead poisoning demands an urgent, comprehensive response,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “This partnership connects public health, medical, and City resources so that we can more effectively assist our most vulnerable residents.”
“By utilizing multi-sector data provided by our partner organizations in this effort, MHIN will fulfill our commitment to residents to be on the leading edge of what research shows will make them safer and healthier,” said MHIN Senior Director of Population Health Waldo Mikels-Carrasco. “We are totally invested in collaborating with all state, local, civic and community partners – in health care and across all sectors – to operationalize data and technology in such a way that it empowers our partner organizations and agencies to ensure healthier outcomes for all our children.”
A contract for $16,950 over three years was approved at the October 9 Board of Public Works meeting.
The proposal outlines a three-step plan that will integrate medical and property record data to identify those who should be tested for lead poisoning. This data will help connect health care workers and county health officials with residents living at addresses where elevated blood lead levels in others have been detected or in homes built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.
This partnership is the latest in a series of City actions meant to address the risks posed by environmental lead exposure through additional testing and funding for in-home lead hazard reductions. To increase testing rates among children, the City is working with the South Bend School Corporation to conduct screenings for students under seven years old. South Bend residents may also be eligible for funding for lead-safe home repairs. In September, the City announced a $670,000 grant for lead identification and control. Residents can learn more about this funding by calling 311.