What is the Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screen?

Florida’s Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screening Instrument is a simple, brief questionnaire that helps identify factors in a pregnant woman’s life and medical and psychosocial factors that might lead to poor pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight, premature birth, fetal/infant death, or developmental delays of the child.

Who has to be screened?

Florida State Statute, 383.14 (FAC 64-C) states “The health care provider delivering prenatal services shall assure that a prenatal risk screening instrument is completed and risk status is determined at every pregnant woman’s initial visit.”

What is the Health Care Provider’s Role?

  • Make sure every pregnant woman is offered the confidential Prenatal Risk Screen. Approach the screening in a positive manner and be available to answer questions and correct any misinformation about Healthy Start she may have. The top and bottom portions of the record must be completed. Give the patient the brochure entitled, “Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screening” (available in English and Spanish).
  • Encourage every pregnant woman to consent to and answer the screening questions.  This is voluntary.  Completion of the questions provides the prenatal care provider with excellent information that will help tailor prenatal care. It assesses potential risks which may allow a woman to have Healthy Start services.  Completion of these questions also helps bring in additional funding to Sarasota County for services, whether or not a referral to Healthy Start occurs.
  • Encourage every pregnant woman or new mother to participate in Healthy Start when her answers indicate she is at high risk (a score of 6 or more) or when you think she could benefit from Healthy Start services (please see list of eligibility requirements for referral to Healthy Start in next section). Healthy Start services are for pregnant women who are at risk for an unhealthy pregnancy or baby. Healthy Start services are not income based. Healthy Start is not a government program. Healthy Start has no affiliation with Department of Children and Families (DCF).

How Do I Fill in and Score the Screen?

Instructions for completing and scoring the screen are listed on the back pages of the screening form:  the white page explains how to complete the screen, the pink page explains how to score.

Send the screen to the Sarasota County Health Department within 5 days regardless of whether the woman has consented to answer the questions or agreed to participate in Healthy Start.  If the woman has answered the questions and agreed to participate, she will be contacted by the Healthy Start Program and offered services based on her level of risk. Please do not wait for an ultrasound test to determine EDD. Use Nägeles Method.

What do I do with the form when it’s completed?

First, take the opportunity to discuss the findings with the patient. At this time, the Healthy Start Program in Sarasota County is accepting referrals ONLY for a score of 6 or presence of at least one risk factor listed in the section below. Explain to her how she and the baby can benefit from the services.

Give the patient the green copy, put the pink copy on the chart, and send the white and yellow copies within 5 days to: Sarasota County Health Department, Healthy Start Program, P.O. Box 2658 – Sarasota, FL 34230. (Please do not send screens to Coalition Office.) 

(If at anytime during the pregnancy risk factors emerge, a referral can be made to Healthy Start by calling 861-2905. A DOH Referral Form can also be used.)

What Does “High-Risk” Mean?

Risk factors include physical, social or medical factors in an individual’s life that increase risk for having or developing a health or health-related problem. Risk factors on the prenatal screen are proven by research to increase risks for poor birth outcomes.

Risk factors on the screen include: age, race, marital status, education, weight,   domestic violence, sexual abuse,  tobacco or  alcohol use, unwanted pregnancy, first pregnancy, previous pregnancy problems or loss of baby, maternal illness, and late entry into prenatal care.  A score on the screen of 6 or more indicates the pregnant woman is at risk for a poor birth outcome, and is automatically referred to Healthy Start with her consent.

The Healthy Start Program in Sarasota County will also accept women with a score less than 6 if any one of these risk factors is present:

  1. Prior fetal or infant loss
  2. Complicated medical conditions impacting pregnancy, including HIV+, Hepatitis B+, thyroid or cardiac diseases, hypertension, diabetes, etc.
  3. Current substance use – tobacco, drugs, or alcohol.
  4. Severe depression, active mental illness, or post-partum depression.
  5. Need breastfeeding classes or post-partum breastfeeding support.
  6. Current abuse or neglect in the home.
  7. Homelessness

What are Healthy Start Services?

Healthy Start services include care coordination and referrals for wraparound services for pregnant women and parents of children up to the age of three, such as pre/interconception education, psychosocial counseling, smoking cessation programs, childbirth education, breastfeeding education and support, nutrition counseling, and parenting education. Referrals are also made to appropriate agencies for food, clothing, baby items, etc.

Will the Healthy Start Program Contact me about the Patient?

The Healthy Start Care Coordinator for your patient will send you a letter with information about the client’s acceptance or refusal of the program.  The Care Coordinator may also call you if she is concerned about the client’s attendance at prenatal care appointments or is having difficulty locating the client. This personal health information sharing is allowed under HIPAA.  The Care Coordinator will call you if she has any other concerns.

What is the Difference between the Healthy Start Coalition and the Healthy Start Program?

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County is a non-profit organization which helps set priorities to meet local needs in maternal and infant health.  Members of the community are invited to serve on the Coalition or any of its committees.  Our phone number is 941-373-7070.

The Healthy Start Program of the Sarasota County Health Department is our sub-contractor for Care Coordination services and data management. Care Coordination is the key to service provision for Healthy Start clients.  A highly qualified staff of Registered Nurses, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and Family Support Workers assure that each client’s needs are addressed. The Healthy Start Program phone number 941-861-2905.

How can the Healthy Start Coalition Help Me?

The Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County provides technical assistance and monitors quality on an ongoing basis. Any time you have a question or need to train a new employee, call the Coalition at 373-7070.