New Maternal Child Health Center set to open in Harvey
BY TIA CAROL JONES
Black women are dying at a rate three times higher than that of white women both during and after pregnancy, according to a Spring 2020 Berkley Public Policy Journal article.
Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Black infants die at a 2.3 higher rate than white infants.
The Maternal Child Health & Wellness Center, located at 15620 S. Wood St., in Harvey, will open in April with the mission of eliminating disparities in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity for Black women and babies.
Dr. Lisa Green, co-founder and CEO of the Family Christian Health Center, has been an advocate for affordable and quality healthcare in under-resourced communities.
Green said while mortality and morbidity are the occurrence of adverse outcomes for women during the course of their pregnancy, it also can happen postpartum, in what is now being called the fourth trimester. She said complications and death can occur up to a year after a woman has delivered a baby.
Green said the March of Dimes conducted a study in Chicago, which found African American women have a six times higher rate of death and mortality. The rate goes up even higher depending on the area they live in because of social determinants of health, including access, among other factors. Green added there is also an increased mortality of Black babies when they are cared for by white doctors.
Last year, Green said the Family Christian Health Center hosted a forum called breaking silos and taking action to look at the data to figure out how to move the needle.
“For me, I thought one of the things we can begin to do is, one of the barriers is access, and having a supportive system for women to be successful to reach the specialty care, and to have an ecosystem. Access, we can begin to move that with structure and some of the policy changes. And so, the Maternal Child Health and Wellness Center will allow us to do that,” she said.
Green said the Maternal Child Health and Wellness Center will provide prenatal care, family planning, routine gynecological visits, postpartum care and postmenopausal care. She said it will provide services for the entire lifespan of the woman, but in particular, pregnant women.
“When women are pregnant, and they are high risk, they need access to some
specialty care and some testing issues they have to follow up on,” she said.
Green added it can be an issue for women who might have to travel for that appointment based on the referral. And, it can be an issue if the woman has to rely on public transportation to get to the destination.
“The whole goal is to decrease the barriers that exist that we can begin to move the needle on that. They will be able to get comprehensive prenatal care,” she said.
Green said the center will also provide social services – access to job training programs, as well as resources for those with food insecurities and housing placement. “I believe this will be an opportunity to set people up for success,” she said.
Green said the center is adding a level of artificial intelligence that she thinks will allow the center to communicate with patients more effectively, while at the same time, increase quality and access for them.
“What we’re really hoping to do is [to] create a safety net ecosystem that ensures that Black mothers and their children get a system of care they need to decrease some of these outcomes and numbers that we’re looking at,” she said. For more information about Maternal Child Health and Wellness Center, visit www.familychc.org.