In The Media

Gillibrand Seeks Funds to Reduce Deaths among Pregnant Women

Gillibrand Seeks Funds to Reduce Deaths among Pregnant Women

by | Jan 27, 2022 | In The Media, Newsday

By Robert Brodsky, Newsday, January 24, 2022

Black women in Nassau County and across the country are facing a “mortality crisis” that has left women of color three times more likely to die during labor or in the first year after giving birth compared to white women, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said at a news conference Monday in Roosevelt.

Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote this week to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee, calling for the fiscal 2022 funding bills to include $7 million for evidence-based training programs to reduce bias in maternal health and for $25 million to establish a program that delivers integrated health care services to pregnant women and new mothers.

“This is a crisis and it is a result of long-standing inequities in our health care system that we must address,” Gillibrand said outside of the Roosevelt Family Health Center. “We can’t accept the idea that black families and children losing their mothers is business as usual. We have to do more to support black women.”

The United States, experts said Monday, has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world — approximately 700 pregnancy-related deaths each year — with the numbers driven largely by high death rates among Black mothers. CDC studies have found that two-thirds of those deaths were preventable.

Meanwhile, the overall maternal mortality rate in New York State is 10% higher than the national average, with the risks growing even higher during the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials said.

In Nassau, the highest maternal mortality rate is in Roosevelt, followed by Hempstead and Westbury, said Dr. Nellie Taylor Walthrust, co-founder of the Westbury-based Birth Justice Warriors, a group that advocates for pregnant women.

Experts Monday attributed the disparity among Black mothers to a lack of affordable housing, proper health care and nutrition, along with discrepancies in medical care for women of color.

“Whether you analyze the research or listen to the experiences of black women, you’ll find a strong pattern of unequal treatment by health care providers during pregnancy and labor,” said Dr. Martine Hackett, the other co-founder of Birth Justice Warriors.

Gillibrand’s letter called for the allocation of $25 million to establish a Pregnancy Medical Home Demonstration Program that would deliver health care services to pregnant women and new mothers. She also supports adding $7 million for Implicit Bias Training Grants for medical and nursing school students to reduce bias and errors in judgment or behavior.

Dr. Tarika James, chief medical officer of the Long Island Federally Qualified Health Center, said comprehensive improvements are needed in the care of Black mothers, including standardization of care, improved patient education, and addressing “social barriers that prevent patients from getting much-needed services in a timely way. All of those things … can make a big difference in our community.”

Robert Brodsky is a breaking news reporter who has worked at Newsday since 2011. He is a Queens College and American University alum.

Share this on social
Home 9 In The Media 9 Gillibrand Seeks Funds to Reduce Deaths among Pregnant Women

In The Media