Saturday, July 13, 2024

Sentara hosts maternal health and mortality roundtable

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As healthcare and community leaders search for solutions to the Black maternal health crisis, Sentara hosted a roundtable discussion Monday with Region 3 Health and Human Services Director Melissa Herd.

“It doesn’t matter what education level you have, how much money you have. None of that matters. If you are Black and brown, you are more likely to die,” said Sentara Patient Experience and Community Outreach Director, Teresita Hammond.

A group of health professionals, community advocates and lawmakers gathered Monday to collaborate on ways to save lives.

“To put an answer on why that is happening, I can’t even quantify. But what I can do and what we’re trying to do is make sure we just meet people where they are,” Hammond said.

Often that is at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in the high risk birthing center.

While in the hospital, new moms will be visited by representatives from Urban Baby Beginnings, which offers prenatal and postpartum support.

Patients will also see a worker from WIC (Woman Infants and Children), the government program that provides nutrition support for moms and babies. If she qualifies for WIC, they will help the new mom get signed up with a card in hand to buy groceries before she and the newborn go home.

CHIP of Virginia, (Children’s Health Investment Program) provides support including nurses that make home visits for as long as a family needs it.

“So we could have a mom prenatally and we could stay until the baby turns seven (years old) if that’s what they need,” CHIP President & CEO Trish O’Brien said.

Birthing and parenting classes have also moved out of the hospital and into community churches and online so parent’s don’t have to travel or pay tolls.

“They’re getting services, yet – yet – women are still dying,” HHS Region 3 Director, Melissa Herd said. “What can we do to prevent the deaths?”

It’s a work in progress.

Sentara leaders hope that as this work continues and programs are implemented the number of deaths will decrease. Meantime those in attendance said they will also review what isn’t working and keep thinking outside the box for new solutions

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