A recent article titled “NYS, NYC Officials Pledged To Reduce Maternal Mortality—Then The Pandemic Struck” was released by gothamist.com. Below is a partial excerpt but you can read the full article here.
A hand-painted sign that read “Black Mamas Matter!” leaned against a section of the exterior fence that separated Queens Hospital Center from 164th Street. One-by-one on October 17th, attendees approached a portable mic to demand an overhaul of New York’s maternal health care system.
This rally, and another held in May at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, was in direct response to another Black woman’s maternal death at a city hospital. Since early March 2020, at least four Black women in New York City — Cordielle Street, Amber Isaac, Sha’asia Washington, and most recently Denise Williams — have made headlines by dying while giving birth or within the first year postpartum.
Both protests were organized by a new political coalition of birth workers and grieving family members determined to solve a crisis that predated and was compounded by COVID-19. Several studies have found over the years that Black New Yorkers were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to have severe complications in childbirth and eight times as likely to die from pregnancy-associated causes.
In 2018, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio each introduced comprehensive plans to address the problem. Their efforts followed decades of researchers, birthworkers and policy experts highlighting evidence-based solutions that could cut the maternal mortality rate by half.
Both plans contained policies and programs aimed at improving data collection and reporting, access to full spectrum doula and midwifery, and quality of hospital care. Unlike COVID-19 deaths, which both the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) release provisional data on in real–time, official maternal mortality and morbidity rates take years to publish.
But as the pandemic flooded city hospitals, many of the shortcomings of those initiatives that birth workers testified to in city and state oversight hearings emerged. Marginalized New Yorkers bore the consequences.
Read the full article here.