Homelessness in Arkansas has not improved in recent years. I was recently notified that there are up to 30 housing-insecure newborn babies discharged on a monthly basis from the university’s medical center. This is often after an extensive stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. Babies experiencing housing insecurity are not only at greater risk for poor health outcomes—often their mothers did not receive adequate prenatal care, are substance abusers, suffer from mental illness, or are in unstable domestic or family situations. Another faculty member recognized my extensive research skills engaging communities and asked me to help address the issue. Since then, we met with nursing and social work staff and initiated the Homeless Infant Task Force; however, in an effort to make patient-centered decisions on how to address the issues, two major phases must occur during the project.
The first phase—identification of potential collaborators and engagement of patient population—will take place through meetings, community roundtables, and deliberative democracy forums. This will result in (1) identification of key stakeholders, (2) prioritization of issues that impact the health of homeless pregnant women and babies, and (3) identification of potential solutions. In the second phase—capacity building among the homeless infant task force members—task force members will be informed by the results of Phase 1, and trainings in both comparative effectiveness research (CER) and patient-centered outcomes research will be offered, which will lead to the development of the CER question. At the conclusion of the project, all outcomes will be shared with the patient community and stakeholders.