PA PQC December Quarterly Meeting Underscores the Successes and Year Ahead 

The Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative's (PA PQC) December 14th quarterly learning session gathered representatives of 56 PA PQC birthing hospitals comprising 81% of live births in PA, to discuss the success of 2022 and new programming in 2023 that will further advance quality improvement efforts in health equity and including patient voice. 

The session included the Perinatal Health Equity Champions Pilot Panel, moderated by Jennifer Condel, SCT(ASCP)MT, manager of Lean Healthcare Strategy and Implementation at JHF, a panel of four Perinatal Health Equity Champions, both community and hospital partners, including: Selena Eisenberg, Midwife, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Divin Geri Endij`en; Aya Eliza-Christie, SW, MSN, CNM, certified midwife, The Midwife Center; Shawndel Laughner, MHA, BSN, CNML, RNC-OB, C-EFM, C-ONQS, director, Women & Children's Services; and Natalie Shovlin-Bankole, BA, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology Resident, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.

During the discussion, Condel provided background on the Perinatal Health Equity Champions program as part of Pittsburgh: A Safer Childbirth City., which was established in 2019 through a grant by Merck for Mothers and focuses on supporting the work of community-based organizations in the Pittsburgh region, specifically five Black-owned community-based organizations. The Perinatal Health Equity Champions Program evolved from this framework and a desire to support the birth workers.

Pictured are Champion Pilot panelists: Natalie Shovlin-Bankhole, BA, MD (top left); Shawndel Laughner, MHA, BSN, CNML, RNC-OB, C-EFM, C-ONQS (top right); Aya Eliza-Christine, SW, MSN, CNM (bottom left); and Selena Eisenberg, birth and postpartum doula, Divin Geri Endij`en.
Pictured are patient voice panelists: Huda Altamimi, MPH, BS, quality improvement coordinator, United Outstanding Physicians (top left); Sarah Johnson, maternal peer navigator, Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative; Marianne Drexler, founder of Maternal Near-Miss Survivors (bottom left); and Katie Spencer, maternal mental health advocate, NAMI.

 The 2019 City of Pittsburgh's Gender Equity Commission report found that in the City of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny County at large, Black birthing women are dying at a rate three times higher than white women. The Champions program became an opportunity to pilot a model for collaboration and relationship building between community and hospital birth workers to develop shared opportunities for quality improvement initiatives to improve maternal health outcomes for Black women and birthing people.

A four-person patient panel was also convened to speak to lived experience about the issues surrounding health equity and to center a discussion on opportunities for patient voices to become a part of quality improvement work. Moderated by Aasta Mehta, MD, MPP and led by Carol Frazer, LPC, practice transformation specialist, Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, the panel included: Marianne Drexler, of Durham N.C., a patient advocate working in the School of Medicine; Katie Spencer, a Scranton-based maternal mental health advocate with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); Sarah Johnson of Tulsa, Ok., an advocate working with the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Collaborative; and Huda Altamimi, an advocate with MoMMA's Voices and a quality improvement coordinator with Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance.

The quarterly learning session sparked discussions about: The successes and future directions of the PA PQC based on the PA PQC's structure and process measures; explained the model for collaboration between community and perinatal health workers and hospital quality improvement teams; discussed actionable steps to take after collecting and disaggregating data by race and ethnicity to increase maternal and neonatal health equity; covered statewide MMRC and Child Death Review data and how it relates to PA PQC initiatives; and outlined successful partnerships between hospital QI teams and patients with lived experience and the steps taken to achieve these collaborations.

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