The Gift of Life Foundation (GOL) is a non-profit, community-based organization, founded in 1988 as a result of a crisis situation in obstetrical care in the Montgomery area. Our area was known as one of the worst areas in the nation to have a baby. Obstetricians were leaving. Infant mortality rates were increasing, as well as high rates of low birthweight babies. Hospitals were experiencing high numbers of walk-in deliveries. In essence, the system of perinatal care was fragmented, uncoordinated, and in disarray.
Gift of Life emerged when a Montgomery county-wide coalition of concerned community leaders, private obstetricians, pediatricians, local hospitals, and city, county and state government leaders formed to address the problem. Federal grant dollars and community funds were solicited and used as seed money creating the first managed maternity care program in the region.
During the first year of GOL’s operation, the organization applied for and was awarded the first Medicaid Maternity waiver in Alabama. This waiver allowed the Gift of Life to subcontract with area health care entities such as local private physicians, a community health center, county health departments, and area hospitals to provide pregnancy-related services for Medicaid eligible recipients.
In 1999, Gift of Life expanded from four to twenty counties. As a result, Gift of Life became responsible for over thirty percent of Medicaid’s Maternity Care Program counties within Alabama. From 1999 to the program’s conclusion in 2015, GOL coordinated over 6,000 Medicaid patient deliveries annually.
In 2000, the Gift of Life became the sponsoring entity for the Montgomery Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, that changed into the Growing Our Own Youth program. The program’s Health Educators provided health and healthy choices education to area youth in partnership with Montgomery Public Schools. Due to organizational changes in 2016, Growing Our Own Youth was temporarily put on hold pending program reassessment.
In 2009, the Gift of Life again led the way in maternity health care by implementing a Nurse-Family Partnership program, the first in Alabama. The goal of this evidence-based home visitation program is to help first-time mothers have healthier pregnancies, improve child health and development, and become more self-sufficient. Registered nurses partner with women and their families during the prenatal period and continue the relationship until the child reaches age two.
On September 1, 2014 the Gift of Life was awarded a five-year Healthy Start grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration (HRSA). With the receipt of this grant, GOL was able to create a Family Coaching program to offer intensive support and resources to mothers with more than one child and to mothers who have at least one child less than a year old.
GOL opted out of Medicaid’s Maternity Waiver Program at the end of 2015. From January 2016 through this reporting period, GOL has been undergoing a complete transition and transformation, building on its non-profit status and outreach to Montgomery County.
Throughout this period of change, GOL continues to provide coordinated services and resources for a system of comprehensive perinatal services. The organization has been responsive, creative, and caring. Infant mortality has been reduced, more private obstetricians accept low-income women, teen pregnancy rates have decreased, and fewer patients show up at emergency rooms without prenatal care. Gift of Life will continue building on its successful foundation.