a b o u t   h y g e i a ®    a n d  t h e  H y g e i a   F o u n d a t i o n

Introduction

Welcome to Hygeia®. Hygeia®, symbolic of the Greek mythological goddess of health and healing for which it is named, began an international community of compassion, empathy and support for families who have endured the tragedy of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal / infant loss.  This vision has been transformed to The Hygeia Foundation, Inc. , a IRS approved 501c-3 non-profit organization. I founded ther Hygeia Foundation in 1995 as an online community which has grown to exceed 30,000 members, Hygeia® and the Hygeia Foundation has thus become among the most enduring online programs of compassion, empathy and support pertaining to Perinatal Loss. 

H y g e i a   2 0 1 2

The Hygeia Foundation, Inc. today is a thriving non Profit, 501-c-3 organization with a Board of Directors, a Medical Advisory Board and a Parents Board. Its mission is to comfort those who grieve the loss of a pregnancy or newborn child. The Hygeia Foundation, Inc. is striving to improve the awareness of the impact of perinatal, neonatal and infant loss on families, community and society and supports the premise that perinatal and infant morbidity and mortality can be affected by providing all women and their families who have experienced perinatal losses e.g. Stillbirths, the availability of perinatal bereavement counseling, pre- and inter-conception counseling ( including an evaluation and understanding of their losses) and access to comprehensive women's healthcare services. In addition, it is our commitment to educate and support healthcare professionals as they care for their patients experiencing perinatal and neonatal loss.  The Hygeia Foundation comforts families of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds who have experienced the tragedies of pregnancy loss and neonatal death. The Hygeia Foundation has been operational for fifteen years and has an international membership of more than 30,000 families who have experienced the tragedy of perinatal and early childhood deaths and the hope for a family subsequent to these losses. The Hygeia Foundation strives to improve disparities in access to women’s healthcare and pre-natal healthcare services by enabling all women in need of women's and maternal and child health services to find and be introduced to these services with respect, dignity and advocacy (http://getcare.info). Through the Ephemeris Project, (http://ephemerisproject.com) perinatal and childhood death serve as a paradigm for humanistic approaches to medical education. This program utilizing reflective writing, mentoring and a philosophic approach to patient care provides a therapeutic, cathartic and beneficial value to the education of students and helps them appreciate that their life’s work is truly one of ‘privileged human relationships’. Further activities of the Hygeia Foundation include counseling and facilitation of local and online support groups, access to new information technologies for learning, and the funding of burial and memorial programs for families in need when their children die.
           
Target Populations / organizations:       
All families who have experienced perinatal and neonatal deaths, alienated and disenfranchised women and teens in need of health care access, health professional students, in-kind non-profit organizations, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions and healthcare providers.
       
Transferability:       
The fundamental tenets, framework and philosophy of the Hygeia Foundation have universal transferability. The three main programs of Hygeia use common platforms of ICT; online communities using email and message board communications, data base access of users, and directed information, literature and learning tools specific for Perinatal Death and Maternal and Child Health. It remains one of the enduring online communities (over 12 years) and its success can be attributed to the attention to daily monitoring and 24/7 access and availability to the Founder / webmaster / physician who is committed to the project and a dedicated Executive Director and Parent Board. Above all the program functions within a framework of ethical and humanistic guidelines, so necessary in today's technologically centered, business-oriented healthcare arena. This philosophy underlying its ICT components is transferable to ongoing and future initiatives to enable more of the world's population to have access to the content and support provided by the "World Wide Web's international community" yet equally applicable to emerging e-medicine, telemedicine and IT patient safety initiatives where human contact and support are necessary for the success of these efforts.

Selected Accomplishments:
·    Hygeia® is among the earliest Internet programs (Established 1995) devoted to the very difficult yet pervasive tragedy of pregnancy loss and neonatal death and the only site of its kind entirely created and moderated by an Obstetrician-Gynecologist.
·    The Hygeia Foundation was recognized in several media reports, among them, the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, the New Haven Register and the Hartford Courant and featured in interviews by Katie Couric on the NBC Today Show and by Lisa Birnbach on the CBS Early Show.
·    Hygeia ® was honored as finalist in the International Information Technology Competition, The Stockholm Challenge, Stockholm, Sweden, 2001,2002 and the Get …Care program was introduced and presented to the Society for the Internet in Medicine, Geneva, 2003 and Prague, 2005.
·    In concert with the New Haven Health Department, the Hygeia Foundation has successfully implemented a Burial and Memorial Fund to help indigent families bury their children.
·    The Hygeia Foundation is a Founding member of the International Stillbirth Alliance, a non-profit coalition of organizations, physicians,parents, nurses and research scientists, dedicated to understanding the causes and prevention of stillbirth through research initiatives.
       
Future – expected development:       
The Hygeia Foundation is well positioned to exponentially affect national and international communities in the aforementioned manner. The Hygeia Foundation has a committed and active parent advisory board, peer-to-peer bereavement facilitators, and a growing number of volunteers to assist with the growth of outreach programs. With an infusion of funding from donations and grants, the Hygeia Foundation expects to implement its already successful programs in underserved, rural and impoverished areas, worldwide. Disparities mirror one another in both health care access and access to digital technologies and this gap in making use of opportunities available from the “digital revolution due to insufficient access, capacity, and content,” is pervasive. Hygeia’s dissemination strategies for its content will therefore focus on proxy users; i.e. strategically placed Internet Systems, intermediaries such as associations of local authorities (Departments of Health, Libraries and Schools, and other Non-Profit Organizations), practicing professionals, capacity building institutions (e.g. hospitals and medical centers), advocacy groups, and the convergence of Information Technology and traditional media resources; phone, fax and print media. It is anticipated that the Hygeia Foundation’s future programs will improve the health and quality of life (i.e. improve the human condition) of its “target group” by emphasizing the need and necessity for health promotion, health prevention, pre-conception care, inter-conception care, early pre-natal care and facilitate universal access and advocacy to these services.
The Hygeia Foundation is mission driven to provide the appropriate access needed for families whose socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, or geographic status prevents them from otherwise accessing the aforementioned services.



Copyright ©  2011  Michael R. Berman, M.D.  All rights reserved  |  Page Created: 6/30/95   Last Updated:
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