Thank you, Sherry Perkins, for the compassionate work you do here.
And thank you all very much for joining us, thanks especially to the staff of Anne Arundel Medical Center. This is one of Maryland's finest hospitals, and one of our two largest delivery services.
If there is a common thread that unites our efforts together, it is the thread of human dignity, the dignity of work, the dignity of a job, the dignity of every child's home, the dignity of every individual and therefore of every single life.
My late friend, Father Allen Novotny -- a great man -- once wrote that "to love is to believe that life wins over death." In essence that's really why we're here.
Reducing infant mortality is about so much more than exceeding our strategic policy goal by 6%, it's about so much more than just bars on a graph or statistics on a page, it's about that moment when a parent tucks their young child into bed at night. It's about a mom or a dad's love for their kids. It's about the promise, value, and potential of every human life. It's about a people who understand that there is no such thing as a spare Marylander or spare American, it's about the dignity of every individual.
The record will show that we set the goal of reducing infant mortality 10% -- and that with hard work and a lot of cooperation, we've reduced infant deaths by
124 Fewer Funerals
In human terms, this means 124 fewer funerals. 124 fewer families devastated by the loss of a young brother or sister, a young son or daughter.
In policy terms, this is a successful start, but it's only a start. The reward for exceeding our goal is raising the bar higher.
Just think of what one life means to a mother or father holding their baby in their arms, what it means to an older brother or sister, what it means to all of us, It is written that "to save just one life is as if you have saved the entire world."
What does this mean for a state government? It's means that we will continue the enterprise-wide collaboration that is allowing us to save lives. And we will continue using the four strategies that are allowing us to save lives:
Improving the health of women before they become pregnant;
Increasing the number of women who receive early prenatal care;
Improving prenatal care; and
Protecting the safety and improving the care of newborn Marylanders
Over these past few years, we've been able to expand health care access to young women and parents, local public health efforts, and safer sleep practices.
Now, thanks to President Obama's courageous leadership on the Affordable Care Act, we're going to be able to ramp up our efforts by expanding health care coverage to nearly every woman in Maryland, and by expanding home visiting services for pregnant women and new families.
Another tool we've added to our toolbox are new Health Enterprise Zones, which we created with Lt. Governor Brown's leadership this session.
The bottom line is that our strategies for reducing infant mortality are saving lives. But progress is never inevitable. It has to be earned. Whether it's progress creating health care jobs or progress saving young lives. We have to work for it -- and therefore our work continues. Thank very much.