Keynote speaker Sen. Holly Mitchell (D—Los Angeles) joined a lineup of visionary leaders to address Black infant mortality and patient experience and safety for Black mothers and birthing people.
LOS ANGELES, July 24, 2020 – Communities Lifting Communities (CLC), the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, and the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) hosted a unique virtual workshop on addressing birth inequities in the Black community on Friday, July 24. The event was part of Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies, a collaborative effort to reduce Black infant deaths and improve patient experiences and safety among Black moms and birthing people in South Los Angeles, the South Bay and the Antelope Valley.
The Honorable Holly J. Mitchell delivered opening remarks and discussed SB 464, the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act. Mitchell shared how she authored the bill and shepherded its passage. She also shared her vision for respectful, equitable maternity care especially for Black mothers, and her steadfast support and call to action for perinatal care providers.
Following months of tireless advocacy, Mitchell saw SB 464 signed into law in October 2019. Aimed at improving outsized infant and maternal mortality rates that have long hurt Black families, the legislation she championed mandates hospitals, alternative birth centers and clinics that provide birth services implement implicit bias training and track relevant statistics.
“Black women deserve better,” Mitchell stated in 2019. “Bias, implicit or explicit, should no longer impact a woman’s ability to deliver a full-term baby or to survive childbirth.”
At the event, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital CEO Elaine Batchlor and Perinatal Services Manager Tammy Turner shared how the facility is implementing an equity focus, and best practices that have led to improved outcomes for Black birthing women. The hospital has received statewide attention for its c-section rates, which stand at less than a third of the state average. The facility attributes its success to a unique birthing model that adds laborists and midwives to obstetrics teams.
Attendees also heard key themes from a July 12 Listening Sister Circle that convened Black pregnant and parenting people, community advocates and birth professionals who live or work in South Los Angeles, South Bay or Antelope Valley on specific recommendations to hospital partners participating in the Cherished Futures pilot program.
“We believe this work cannot be done for Black women without Black women,” said Dana Sherrod, Perinatal Equity Manager for the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, and project lead for Cherished Futures. “We are intentional about bringing Black women, our voices, and lived experiences to the decision-making table.”
In Los Angeles County, Black women and families continue to disproportionately experience higher rates of infant and maternal mortality and morbidity compared to other racial or ethnic groups. Research shows that factors such as education, income, and health status to do not fully explain the gap, but rather points to systemic issues such as racism and toxic stress throughout a woman’s life, which negatively impacts birth outcomes.
Through a two-year grant from Health Net and in partnership with CLC, HASC, and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Alliance), the Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies pilot initiative is uniting decision-makers from local birthing hospitals, public health, health plans, community-based organizations, advocates and patients to co-design systems-change interventions at three levels: clinical, institutional and community.
Cherished Futures has a cohort of five participating hospitals: Antelope Valley Hospital, Cedars-Sinai, Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Dignity Health-California Hospital Medical Center and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Torrance.
To learn more about the work being done by Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) and Cherished Futures, please visit https://communities.hasc.org/cherished-futures.