Notre Dame, St. Joseph County to partner for maternal health ‘one-stop shop’

Today, giving birth to a child is no longer the most dangerous part of becoming a mother.

Eighty percent of pregnancy-associated deaths occur in the postpartum period (up to one year following a birth), according to the Indiana Department of Health. And unlike complications during birth, the vast majority of postpartum deaths are preventable. These risks require immediate interventions aimed at improving the health and well-being of mothers.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are taking action by engaging community partners in St. Joseph County, Indiana, to help improve access to health care services for pregnant and postpartum women in underserved areas of the community.

Female professor with long dark braids wearing a bright blue blouse and gold earrings.
Yenupini Joyce Adams/University of Notre Dame

Yenupini Joyce Adams, the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health lead for the Eck Institute for Global Health at Notre Dame, is spearheading these efforts by implementing new approaches to postpartum care in St. Joseph County.

Adams, who is an assistant professor of the practice for the Eck Institute and concurrent assistant professor of the practice at the Keough School of Global Affairs, has received funding from Health First St. Joseph County to pilot the Pop Up Pregnancy & Family Village program, a monthly “one-stop shop” of existing, evidence-based programs that are currently operating in St. Joseph County communities.

“The goal of the Pop Up Pregnancy & Family Village is to establish a trusted, consistent, monthly ‘one-stop shop’ for mothers and families to access connection to care, resources and support that will address social drivers of health, well-being, and mental health, in addition to physical health during pregnancy and the postpartum period, in one convenient location,” Adams said.

The Pop Up Pregnancy & Family Village program will begin in August and September at locations in South Bend and Mishawaka. There will be no cost for participants to attend and receive care.

Adams will provide a free information session at the St. Joseph County Public Library in April for area health professionals and wellness organizations interested in participating in this important initiative, which is expected to expand to other northern Indiana communities through support from Beacon Community Impact.

Building partnerships within St. Joseph County is well-aligned with the University’s commitment to supporting the health and well-being of others through translational research that can advance the local community. Support from the St. Joseph County Health Department, Beacon and Saint Joseph health systems and several community-based organizations for the pop-up project will supplement other University-sponsored programs in the South Bend community.

Partnerships with the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and Beacon Health System are enabling Adams to leverage insights from her work in Ghana to address maternal mortality through group postpartum care programs that will be implemented in Indiana. While group prenatal care programs that offer peer support to expectant mothers are common within U.S. health care systems, group postpartum care models have yet to be implemented. The group postpartum care model developed by Adams will be among the first to be integrated into a health care system in the U.S.

With several ongoing efforts to improve the health of mothers and children, the Eck Institute recently announced a Maternal, Newborn and Child Health working group that is mobilizing University researchers and campus partners to inspire maternal health advancements within the South Bend community.

“The University of Notre Dame is dedicated to working with community partners to develop local programs that accelerate our impact for good in low- and middle-income communities,” said Bernard Nahlen, director of the Eck Institute for Global Health and professor of biological sciences. “As part of this continuing alliance, the Eck Institute is fully committed to supporting global and local research that seeks to improve maternal health outcomes.”

In the United States, the standard for postpartum care involves just one doctor visit at six weeks post-birth. Adams hopes that by establishing a consistent monthly event that is conveniently located within local communities, “we can reduce health access barriers that have historically led to postpartum health complications and death.”

“Access to postpartum care services should be available to anyone, anywhere,” Adams said. “I am hopeful that we can reduce Indiana’s maternal mortality rates with our partners at the University and in the community. No woman should have to sacrifice her life to give life.”

To learn more about upcoming Maternal, Newborn and Child Health events or to join the working group, visit the Eck Institute for Global Health website.

Contact: Brandi Wampler, associate director of media relations, 574-631-2632,

Contact: Erin Blasko, associate director of media relations, 574-631-4127,


Originally published by Christine Grashorn at on March 04, 2024.