Mercyhealth spotlights black maternal mortality crisis

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:27 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Mercyhealth shined a spotlight on the maternal health crisis and alarming rates of mortality among black women, at it’s “Taking Action After the Shock” event.

“It’s present no matter the person’s education, it’s present no matter the woman’s insurance background,” said Mercyhealth Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Nicole Macaulay. “The maternal morbidity or risk of death for black women, or women of color, is three to four times what the national average would be.”

Dr. Macaulay says it’s an unsettling statistic, but one that can only change if brought to life. However, that’s only a sliver of the data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than four out of five deaths from a pregnancy-related issue could have been prevented. For Macaulay, these numbers hit close to home.

“As a black woman that provides care to black woman, I feel especially connected to this issue,” said Macaulay. “I feel that it is my job to help correct it.”

That’s exactly why Macaulay, along with other local healthcare workers in the area opened the door for discussion, to learn how they can play a part in reducing black maternal death rates.

“It’s a systemic problem, and it’s time to take action,” said Mercyhealth Javon Bea Obstetrics Educator Laura Smith.

“We want to make sure all patients receive the same care,” said Mercyhealth Javon Bea Labor & Delivery Nurse Jennifer Dicaro.

Both Smith and Dicaro believe there’s no care in healthcare, if it doesn’t apply to all. But the two say the only way to deliver that message, is by listening and understanding the root of racial disparities in healthcare.

“Understanding what our biases may be, confronting these biases,” said Macaulay. “Being comfortable with some discomfort, because it’s in that discomfort where we are going to grow.”