RIVERSIDE COUNTY PUTS HEALTHY MESSAGES IN THE PALMS OF EXPECTANT AND NEW PARENTS
Free National Program Aims to Reduce Perinatal Complications and Increase Infant Wellness
A free mobile phone health service for expectant and new parents is now widely available - in English and Spanish - to Riverside County parents who want to receive free text messages on essential health information and immunization reminders through the first year of their child’s life.
Parents using the service, physicians, children’s advocates, and Riverside County supervisors, in partnership with the mobile health service Text4baby, will formally launch the service in western Riverside County at the Riverside County Perris Family Care Center, 308 E. San Jacinto Ave. in Perris at 10 a.m. on Thursday (April 3), recognizing April as the Month of the Young Child.
Their counterparts in eastern Riverside County will launch the Text4baby service at the Indio Family Care Center, 47923 Oasis St. in Indio CA at 10 a.m. on April 10.
Advocates say the partnership will make it easier for parents to learn about Text4baby and to sign up through existing programs such Women, Infants and Children (WIC), First 5 Riverside, the Riverside County Regional Medical Center women’s health and pediatric services, and Riverside County Health System’s 10 outpatient family health centers.
Text4baby offers a terrific opportunity for parents to receive appointment reminders, important health information specific to their stage of pregnancy and child’s developmental age in addition to other alerts – such as proper sleep positioning, Pertussis and flu vaccination reminders.
“This is information that can save children’s lives,” said Dr. Carrie Bacon, assistant chief of family medicine for Riverside County Health System.
Text4baby collects only the user’s phone number, zip code and due date. It delivers three text messages per week and, when necessary, transmits urgent health and safety alerts such as baby product recalls and natural disasters. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention create and oversee the content.
Dr. Aleca Clark, a Loma Linda pediatrician and Chief of Pediatrics at Riverside County Regional Medical Center said she used Text4baby for more than a year to assess its accuracy and value. Clark said this was especially important because Text4baby has been effective at reaching English and Spanish speaking parents who live in zip codes with the highest levels of poverty in the United States and where perinatal care is less frequent.
“Virtually everyone has a cell phone,” Clark said. “Text4baby is a great tool we can put directly into a parent’s hands to provide timely information about prenatal care and how to keep a child healthier at an especially vulnerable time in life.”
Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley said county leaders are committed to supporting programs that improve population health and enhance the quality of lives for children.
"By partnering with Text4baby, we are providing the best possible healthcare to our constituents and this partnership will only strengthen those efforts by ensuring that new and expectant parents receive vital information in a timely fashion," said Ashley, who will be on hand to launch the program April 3.
Riverside County agencies such as the health clinics, WIC and First5 will be working to integrate Text4baby information into their clinics’ services, physicians said. Parents may also sign up by texting BABY (or “BEBE” for Spanish) to 511411 to receive three text messages a week through their child’s first birthday.
“We are excited to partner with Riverside County. Through this launch, we are making progress to achieve our shared mission of ensuring each child has a healthier start in life,” said Janice Frey-Angel, chief executive officer, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.
First5 Riverside, the Riverside County Children & Families Commission recognizes the value of offering simple tips and advice for parents. “The provision of basic information helps parents make or reinforce their decisions on the health of their child,” said Harry Freedman, executive director of First5 Riverside. “Such support helps build a strong foundation for a child’s success in school and throughout life.”
Parents can also sign up for Text4Babies through WIC at www.rivhero.com