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Columbus, OH 43215


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New Wellness on Wheels Truck to Serve Women at Shelter

For Immediate Release 
November 10, 2014
For More Information:
John Ivanic, City Council, 645-6798
Sara Loken, Community Shelter Board, 715-2527
Katie Logan, OhioHealth, 614-544-4224

Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther announced the latest initiative in the ongoing communitywide effort to reduce infant mortality in Columbus and help babies and families live healthy, happy lives. Legislation to be voted on by Council at its November 10th meeting would authorize the purchase of a Wellness on Wheels (WOW) truck that would provide comprehensive healthcare services to new and expecting mothers at shelters and schools throughout the city.

“One of the key recommendations of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force was that we improve access to prenatal care and support programs for at-risk families,” said Council President Ginther. “This budget amendment will ensure that the WOW program expands its services in neighborhoods that have the highest rates of infant mortality in Columbus.”

With passage of the legislation, the WOW program will begin serving hundreds of women at a new emergency shelter at 595 Van Buren Drive.

“Too many women are experiencing homelessness in our community, and many of them are pregnant,” said Michelle Heritage, Executive Director of Community Shelter Board. “This partnership will allow women in crisis – the most vulnerable citizens in our community – to receive critically needed prenatal care. This partnership will literally save the lives of unborn babies.”

“Access to prenatal care is vital to our efforts to educate and assist young mothers and those experiencing homelessness that do not have access to critical healthcare services,” stated Sue Darby, Downtown District Executive Director for the YMCA of Central Ohio. “We applaud Columbus City Council’s efforts to endorse the Wellness on Wheels initiative in support of those in greatest need throughout our community and shelter system.”

“Each year, Wellness on Wheels provides prenatal and postpartum care for over 400 women, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Orelle Jackson, System Director of Community Health and Wellness for OhioHealth. “We’ve seen a positive community impact though this initiative. Over the last 20 years, our infant mortality rate is 5.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 7.7 for Franklin County. A new truck will allow us to serve more patients and improve the continuum of care in the central Ohio community. These funds for a new truck will allow us to continue to provide reliable care for current and future patients, including those at the Van Buren shelter.” 

WOW also partners with Columbus City Schools to provide free sports physicals and health and wellness programming to children and families.

Council President Ginther is co-sponsoring the legislation with Councilmember Priscilla Tyson, chair of Columbus City Council’s Health & Human Services Committee.