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“We can do better” with racial health differences in pregnant women, says Dr. Borders

A new initiative aims to address systemic inequalities for pregnant women in Illinois.

The Birth Equity [Justice] Initiative was launched by the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative and aims to reduce racial disparities in pregnancy and birth health outcomes.

Dr. Ann Borders, a doctor of maternal and fetal medicine at NorthShore University Health System, said the initiative was in response to rising maternal mortality, particularly among Illinois women of color.

This initiative “is really about getting hospitals together to say we can do better and that there are actionable strategies we can take together to make improvements,” she said. The state’s latest maternal mortality report found that pregnancy-related health outcomes are worse for women of color.

Non-Hispanic black women about three times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to die from an associated complication during or within a year of pregnancy,” said Dr. Borders. 

The initiative will work with hospitals to review social determinants of health, connect women with the resources and services they need, and, among other things, provide patient-centered, respectful and unbiased care. The goal is to get every hospital in the state on board, said Dr. Borders.

Finding Out The Cause of Maternal Death of Black Women

The Birth Justice Initiative has four main drivers: addressing the social determinants of health; reviewing maternal health quality data by race, ethnicity and insurance status to identify areas for improvement; promoting a patient-centered approach to engaging patients and communities; and educating providers on respectful nursing practices and how to deal with bias.

“We’re helping hospitals get started with these strategies by putting together a toolkit and running regular monthly webinars where hospitals learn from each other, collect data and track the progress of these strategies,” said Borders.

According to the physician, social determinants of health play an important role in women’s pregnancy outcomes.

“There are issues like access to health care, there are issues like the type of health care women receive and the prejudices they may face,” she said. While it’s important to understand why these inequalities exist… it’s more important to do something about it.

“We have to act and that is what this initiative is about,” she said. “It’s about really saying that we have interventions that we can move forward and we have to start this important work.”

Author: Elyse Kelly, The Center Square Contributor

Original article & location