Creating awareness around UTHealth Houston’s HOPE (Home Outreach for Parent Encouragement) program was a huge opportunity as university employees shared information at the Texas Primary Care Consortium (TPCC) Summit Nov. 2023. As a bonus, they met with State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who has provided her unwavering commitment to making a difference for women’s healthcare in Texas.
“It was truly rewarding to get the attention of various providers like primary care physicians, psychiatrists, pediatricians, community health workers — and even Texas legislators — by sharing our work on HOPE,” said Robyn Harris, MPA, project manager with the Department of Healthcare Transformation Initiatives (HTI) at UTHealth Houston. “These key roles have the capacity to assist in transforming the care a woman might receive during the perinatal period.”
HOPE is a much-needed intervention that enables social workers to deliver mental health care in the home setting to moms at risk for postpartum depression. Maternal mental health conditions like postpartum depression affect more than 1 in 8 pregnant and postpartum women in Texas. Interventions like HOPE are critical, Harris said, as it has been estimated that only 6.3% of all women with postpartum depression receive adequate treatment.
The TPCC Summit honored Kolkhorst with the inaugural Legislative Champion Award for her visionary leadership and dedication to shaping policies impacting primary care in Texas. The UTHealth Houston team met Kolkhorst, who co-sponsored the bill expanding Medicaid coverage for a full year after birth and worked diligently to push it through legislation.
Logan R. Thornton, DrPH, director of population health and evidence-based practice with HTI, felt that Kolkhorst was passing the baton to all of the service providers working with this fragile population when she took a photo with the HOPE poster.
“She did her part and now it is on to programs like HOPE to impact the lives of women and, by extension, Texas families managing postpartum depression,” Thornton said. “It was an opportunity for Robyn and I to feel like our work is bearing fruit.”