A Raleigh health center works to reduce Black maternal and infant mortality

A Raleigh health center works to reduce Black maternal and infant mortality

PhD.Lisa Vanderlaan
Dr. Lisa Vendeland, Director of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Services at Advance Community Health (Photo: Advance Community Health)

A Raleigh community health center that low-income and uninsured people have relied on for decades is opening an obstetrics and gynecology clinic to head-on address factors that contribute to higher mortality rates among black mothers and infants than among white mothers and infants. baby.

Advance Community Health’s services for expectant parents will feature group prenatal care, which is thought to reduce premature birth rates. The center has also launched a parenting program for fathers.

Dr. Lisa Vendeland, director of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Services at Advance, is leading obstetrics and gynecology services with a team that includes a nurse practitioner, nurse practitioner, nutritionist and social worker.

Providing a wide range of prenatal services and parent support is a deliberate effort to reduce infant and maternal mortality in communities of color.

Wendland said the deaths “should never have happened.”

State health care leaders, providers and community health groups have been talking for years about the state’s high infant and maternal mortality rates and the fact that Black people are hardest hit. Reducing infant mortality and narrowing the survival gap between black and white people were part of the reason for the state’s early push to expand Medicaid. North Carolina expanded Medicaid last year.

Speaking at an event to mark the launch of the center on maternal health, Advance chief executive Scot McCray said launching the service was a goal he set when he led the center three years ago.

Advance Community Health is one of 42 community health centers in the state designed to provide care to rural and underserved communities. Community health centers treat insured and uninsured patients and offer sliding discounts based on income. Advance has offices in Wake and Franklin counties. Our Southeast Raleigh headquarters offers the broadest range of medical services.

McRae said he didn’t want to just start another service, but wanted to build a health care program that would reduce infant mortality rates in communities of color, get more women of color to start prenatal care early in pregnancy, and reduce low-income infant mortality rates. birth weight of infants and address high maternal mortality.

Tara Waters and Scott McRae
Wake County Commissioner Tara Waters and Senior Community Health CEO Scot McCray. (Photo: Lynn Bonner)

“We want to make sure we’re doing something different. Something that can make a difference,” he said.

The CDC reported last year that North Carolina’s infant mortality rate dropped slightly from 2021 to 2022, but Black babies here are still more than twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday.

North Carolina Maternal Mortality Rate More than doubled between 2019 and 2021According to NC Newsline, the increase is much faster than the national rate. Although 22% of North Carolina’s population is black, 43% of women die from pregnancy-related causes Black between 2020 and 2022, according to investigative journalism website MuckRock.

Mothers are more likely to die from pregnancy-related illnesses than they were a decade ago, said Dr. Bessie Tilson, state health director and chief medical officer for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “The tragedy of infant and maternal deaths is that about 85 percent of these deaths are preventable,” she said. “We can prevent these deaths. We can close the gap.”

Black and Latina women tend to start prenatal care later in pregnancy than white women. Advance’s obstetrics and gynecology services will help address access issues, Tilson said.

At the heart of efforts to improve infant and maternal health will be concentrated pregnancy, A type of group prenatal care that combines exams with education and discussion groups made up of women who are all about the same due date. These longer exams replace the typical 15-minute prenatal visit.

CenteringPregnancy coordinator Sarah Hornung said CenteringPregnancy has reduced the incidence of premature births and low birth weight babies.

“This is more than just a prenatal care program,” she said. “It’s creating a supportive community.”

In a program for fathers called “Parenting Poppas” at the health center, men will lead classes on infant care practices. Wendland said the center will also offer psychological and social support groups for men. She says men who are involved in direct child care are more satisfied parents, are more actively involved in their communities and raise stronger, healthier children.

By working harder to change maternal care and father care, “we can reduce the number of deaths of mothers and babies,” Wendland said. “That’s our best hope for this program.”

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