Some local hospitals are having to increase services for poor Mississippians, as county health clinics face tightening budgets.
This year, the University of Mississippi Medical Center Hospital in Holmes County will begin offering pre-natal care to some of the state's poorest residents.
The decision to open the clinic is relatively new. Paige Lawrence is the hospital's clinical director. She says most pregnant women in Holmes County had travel between Jackson or Grenada to receive care.
"Those patients that probably wouldn't get any pre-natal care, we've got a visiting OBGYN that started two weeks ago coming from Grenada to see these patients," says Lawrence. "It was more community service to give these people somewhere to go because there's nowhere. They were all using the health department."
According to data collected by the Department of Health, Holmes County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. It also has a high percentage of women who have children with low-birth weights, a contributing factor in infant mortality.
However, due to budget constraints and a decrease in the number of patients taking advantage of pre-natal programs, the state Department of Health had to discontinue the service. Patients were instead directed to federally qualified health centers for care. The problem is Holmes County's F-Q-H-C doesn't offer the service.
"It is true that we have much less state funding then we use to so it's harder for us take care of patients that don't have a source of care," says Doctor Mary Currier, the state health officer. "But the primary reason we were getting out of the business was the numbers were going down anyway, and we just had to make a decision at some point."
UMMC Holmes is scheduled to open its pre-natal clinic this fall.