A Maternity Care Desert Threatens Lower Income Women in Washington, D.C. | Miriam Zoila Pérez

The closure of two labor and delivery wards in D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods presents a challenge for communities with already alarmingly high maternal and infant mortality rates. …

Image result for claudia bookerIn 2015, Newsweek proclaimed that “Washington, D.C., is one of the worst places in America to be a mother,” based on a study of how it has the highest infant mortality rate of any capital city in the developed world. But in D.C., the health and well-being of mothers and babies varies widely based on race, class status and where you live. In Ward 8, which is more than 90 percent Black, a 2015 Save the Children report found “[infants] are 10 times more likely to die than children in Ward 3, Washington’s affluent northwest.”

Because of this closure, women going into labor in Southeast D.C. will have to travel to other parts of the city to deliver their babies. Limited access to transportation could make this difficult for some who may not have access to a car for the 20-30 minute trip. To make matters worse, two other hospitals that serve many women from this community are limiting or shutting down their labor and delivery services as well. …

Booker wants D.C. to bring a model that has worked well for improving maternal health outcomes for low-income Black women in Florida—one which doesn’t require neighborhood hospital maternity wards. The model is based on Easy Access Clinics, created by midwife Jennie Joseph, near Orlando, Florida. The clinics offer a prenatal care model that is truly accessible (no one is turned away regardless of ability to pay), and utilizes non-medical staff to offer education and support to pregnant women and their families.

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