(1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—It is the intent of the Legislature to create a black infant health practice initiative. The initiative shall include reviews of infant mortality in select counties in this state in order to identify factors in the health and social services systems contributing to higher mortality rates among African-American infants. It is also the intent of the Legislature that the initiative produce recommendations on how to address the factors identified by the reviews as contributing to these higher infant mortality rates.
(2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Coalition” means a federal or local healthy start coalition or consortium.
(b) “Department” means the Department of Health.
(c) “FIMR” means a fetal and infant mortality review committee.
(d) “Infant mortality” means the death of a live-born infant within 364 days after the infant’s birth.
(e) “Infant mortality rate” means the number of infant deaths per 1,000 annual live births.
(3) OBJECTIVES.—The objectives of the initiative include:
(a) Determining the significant social, economic, cultural, safety, and health system factors that are associated with racial disparities in infant mortality rates through a practice collaborative approach using perinatal periods of risk and modified fetal infant mortality reviews.
(b) Developing a series of interventions and policies that address these factors to improve the service systems and community resources.
(c) Participating in the implementation of community-based interventions and policies that address racial disparities in infant mortality rates.
(d) Assessing the progress of interventions.
(4) ADMINISTRATION.—The black infant health practice initiative shall be administered through a collaboration among the department, federal and state healthy start coalitions, and public universities or colleges having expertise in public health. A local community shall develop an interdisciplinary team to serve as part of a statewide practice collaborative. Both perinatal periods of risk and fetal infant mortality reviews may be used. A case review shall be conducted by each participating healthy start coalition using professional in-house staff or through contracts with an outside professional. Public universities or colleges having expertise in public health shall provide technical assistance in developing a standard research methodology based on the fetal and infant mortality review method. Public universities or colleges having expertise in public health shall assist each participating coalition in determining the selection of comparison groups, identifying data collection and housing issues, and presenting findings and recommendations. A single methodology for the reviews conducted through the initiative shall be used by each participating coalition. The department shall distribute funding to each coalition that participates in the initiative through annual grants that are subject to specific appropriations by the Legislature.
(5) FUNCTIONS OF THE INITIATIVE.—Each participating coalition shall:
(a) Develop an interdisciplinary team to oversee the process in its local community.
(b) Use perinatal periods of risk methodology when appropriate to examine infant deaths in its community.
(c) Use a modified FIMR approach to examine infant deaths in its community by:
1. Creating a case review FIMR team that may include obstetricians, neonatologists, perinatologists, pathologists, registered nurses, social workers, hospital and clinic administrators, social service agencies, researchers, citizens and consumers, and other experts considered necessary to conduct a standardized review of infant mortality.
2. Hiring or contracting with professional staff that may include licensed nurses and social workers to abstract and present individual case reviews that omit identifying information regarding infant deaths compared to live births to the case review team.
3. Developing abstracts of sample infant mortalities and comparative live births that omit identifying information and that identify social, economic, cultural, safety, and health system factors that are associated with racial disparities in infant mortality rates. The number of abstracted cases that must be conducted by each participating coalition shall be determined by a standard research methodology developed in conjunction with a public university or college having expertise in public health.
4. Presenting abstracts that omit identifying information to its case review team at least quarterly for their review and discussion.
(d) Develop findings and recommendations for interventions and policy changes to reduce racial disparities in infant mortality.
(6) GRANT AWARDS.—The department shall award annual grants, subject to specific appropriations by the Legislature. The department shall award at least one grant to a coalition representing urban counties and at least one grant to a coalition representing rural counties. Priority of grant awards shall be given to those coalitions representing counties having an average nonwhite infant mortality rate at least 1.75 times greater than the white infant mortality rate between 2003 and 2005 and an average of at least 40 nonwhite infant deaths between 2003 and 2005 for urban counties or an average of at least 5 nonwhite infant deaths between 2003 and 2005 for rural counties.
(7) EVALUATIONS AND REPORTS.—The department shall conduct an annual evaluation of the implementation of the initiative describing which areas are participating in the initiative, the number of reviews conducted by each participating coalition, grant balances, and recommendations for modifying the initiative. All participating coalitions shall produce a report on their collective findings and recommendations by January 1, 2010, to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the State Surgeon General.
(8) IMMUNITY.—Each participating coalition, its case review team members, and professional staff are immune from liability pursuant to s. 766.101. (9) RULEMAKING.—The department shall adopt rules, pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54, necessary to implement this section.
(10) IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE.—The department shall administer grants in a manner that will allow each participating coalition to begin reviewing cases no later than January 1, 2008.