Statewide Maternal Mortality Summit Addresses Care Disparities

February 26, 2018

GNYHA participated in a summit on challenges to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity across New York State. More than 500 clinicians, community activists, State and City public policy experts, and others attended the February 14 conference hosted by the New York Academy of Medicine. Topics included fragmentation in women’s health care and the impact of structural racism on health disparities in maternal mortality. Summit participants also discussed new strategies to address the persistently high rates of maternal mortality, particularly the disproportionately high mortality rate of black women. The latter was emphasized by data from Marilyn Kacica, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of Family Health, New York State Department of Health (DOH), and Lorraine Boyd, MD, MPH, FAAP, Medical Director of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health.

New York State Commissioner of Health Howard A. Zucker, MD, JD, said that while the State has made strides in reducing infant and maternal deaths, black women still die at a rate of 3.5 times more than white women. “All women should have equal access to quality care before, during, and after pregnancy,” he noted.

Joia Crear-Perry, MD, FACOG, Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, and William Callaghan, MD, MPH, Chief of the Maternal and Infant Health Branch in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stressed the importance of recognizing health inequities and working with community, hospital, and public health partners to collect better data on maternal mortality and morbidity to support improvements in care. A panel of clinical leaders from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II (ACOG), DOH, DOHMH, GNYHA, the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), and others detailed efforts and progress being made by these organizations to improve outcomes for pregnant women.

For more than a decade, GNYHA has committed resources to promote implementation of evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for mothers and their newborns and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. GNYHA, with DOH, ACOG, and HANYS, currently supports the NYS Obstetrical Hemorrhage Project to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality from maternal hemorrhage. The Collaborative was launched in November 2017. Hospitals interested in participating can contact Wing Lee or Lorraine Ryan for more information.