In a recent press conference, Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner urged continued support for the work that’s being done in the Bronx to improve outcomes for expectant mothers, including a focus on reducing healthcare disparities that impact women of color.
At the Aug. 12 event, Joyner and the OBGYN staff at the BronxCare Health System highlighted the importance of the state-funded Safe Motherhood Initiative in reducing the maternal mortality rate of women of color.
Since 2013, the Safe Motherhood Initiative has been working with obstetric hospitals in New York to develop and implement standard approaches for handling obstetric emergencies associated with maternal mortality and morbidity. It focuses on the four leading causes of maternal death: maternal sepsis, obstetric hemorrhage (severe bleeding), venous thromboembolism (blood clots) and severe hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy.
“It is critical that we don’t lose sight of the need to continue to support life changing investments like the Safe Motherhood Initiative,” said Joyner. “As policymakers struggle to address the financial strains resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown, it is vital to remain committed to the lifesaving work being done at BronxCare as a result of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and the improved care being provided to many women who are choosing to have a baby.”
According to data, the United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and Black women are nationally almost four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women and three times more likely in New York. While New York has made improvements in reducing maternal mortality rates since 2010, when it was ranked 46th in the nation, the state is still 30th.
“To save lives we have to address these healthcare disparities from many different angles and the Safe Motherhood Initiative supports healthcare providers who are committed to improving care and improving outcomes,” Joyner said.
In 2019, Joyner sponsored legislation that became the Maternal Mortality Review Board. The board is charged with reviewing the cause of each maternal death in New York and making recommendations to the Department of Health on strategies for preventing future deaths and improving overall health outcomes.
Joyner stressed how crucial it is for people to take care of themselves when they are pregnant, especially in the Bronx where there are a high number women of color. According to Joyner, even if women have language barriers or lack insurance, they must know hospitals like BronxCare are there to help.
“At BronxCare under the leadership of Magdy Mikhail, it has utilized the Safe Motherhood Initiative for all staff and providers,” the assemblywoman said.
Mikhail, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at BronxCare, thanked Joyner for holding the press conference and being a fighter for improving health disparities for women of color.
Like Joyner, the doctor stressed that women should constantly get themselves checked out if pregnant, especially now during COVID-19 and if they are a woman of color.
“Unfortunately the minority women are at an increased risk for mortality,” he said. “We are very grateful for the support we get from the assemblywoman. We want mothers to know prenatal care is something that is very important.”