Bronson Healthcare Raises Awareness During Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17
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Published on April 11, 2022

Black woman holding baby - Black Maternal Health Week

Bronson Healthcare Raises Awareness During Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17

In recognition of Black Maternal Health Week, Bronson Birthplace providers and clinicians in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo are helping promote resources for community members and education for healthcare providers.

The awareness week was founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the U.S. Bronson team members, along with community partners including Grace Health in Battle Creek and WMed Health in Kalamazoo, are working together to bring attention to the disparities Black women often face before, during and after pregnancy.

In Michigan, Black women are 2.8 times more likely to experience pregnancy-related mortality compared to white women. Throughout the United States, Black mothers are 3-4 times more likely to die of childbirth-related causes than white women, even after accounting for the highest level of education attained.

“These statistics show there is clearly a lot of work to be done,” says Beth Washington, vice president of community health, equity and inclusion for the Bronson Healthcare system. “We recognize that systemic racism does exist in our society. As an institution that operates within our society, we know we need to address institutional racism. We are on a journey to think, see, say and do differently to improve health outcomes. Bronson has made maternal and infant health a priority in our Community Health Implementation Plan.”

Recognizing that healthcare providers play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers to equitable care, the task force has developed a week-long series of educational materials and action-steps for clinicians and staff who work with people throughout their pregnancies, deliveries, and after they give birth. “This awareness week is just one element,” says Washington. “It’s critical that we continue this work to ensure care teams have the knowledge to recognize gaps in service to Black families and to make sure they are closing those gaps.”

A number of community resources are currently available that are helping to address Black maternal health. Learn more by visiting these websites:

  • Cradle Kalamazoo is a multi-agency community initiative that aims to identify and implement evidence-based and holistic interventions to reduce infant death and promote respect for families, women, and their children. Cradle Kalamazoo’s scope has been maternal-infant health, as pregnant women have been a priority focus from our inception. Their goal is to reduce infant death and promote respect for families, women and their children
  • Doula Project through WMed Health was developed to support birthing women who are at high risk due to poor birth outcomes, addiction, poverty, homelessness, isolation, incarceration, and other risks that may affect her chance of having a healthy baby and healthy postpartum.
  • Milk Like Mine/Bellies Like Mine provides lactation support and doula services for mothers of color. Their breastfeeding coalition meetings provide a safe space for mothers of color and community members to come together virtually every second Saturday of the month.
  • Rootead/Red Birth Green provides accessible, full-spectrum reproductive care to the Kalamazoo area. The WOC-founded and led team offers all-embracing community care for the modern age. Red Birth Green was founded as a way to address Black infant mortality with community care and principles of traditional healing practices.
  • South West Michigan Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative is a group that together is working to facilitate authentic collective impact and community focused strategy by connecting families and partners in Southwest Michigan to drive system change in maternal and infant health.