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Maternal Health Organizations Issue Collective Plan to Save Lives in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, PA – For Pennsylvania Maternal Health Awareness Day, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation contributed to a statewide collective plan to raise awareness of recommendations to improve maternal health and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-associated mortality rates are two times greater for non-Hispanic Blacks than non-Hispanic whites. The plan includes recommendations that the State Administration could achieve in a 12-month period. It also describes how stakeholders can support the priorities.

In November 2023, over 25 maternal health organizations and groups across Pennsylvania worked together to develop a prioritized list of recommendations for private and public stakeholders to advance in 2024. Over the past two months, these organizations met several times and completed surveys to understand and uplift each other's existing work and maternal health policy ideas.

The Collective Plan is uplifting the following existing recommendations from members of the group:

  • Establish a Perinatal Behavioral Health Access Program to provide consultation and expertise to providers on how to identify and care for women and other birthing people with mental health or substance use-related needs,
  • Reimburse Doulas who provide emotional, physical, and informational support to women and other birthing people,
  • Reimburse Community Health Workers who serve the communities in which they reside or communities with which they may share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, or life experiences to improve health outcomes in the community,
  • Build a diverse, culturally appropriate perinatal health workforce,
  • Increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that provides nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals, and healthy foods, and
  • Support educational campaigns with trusted community partners about maternal health and the available services and supports in the community.

The Collective Plan is building on past and recent achievements in Pennsylvania, including the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, the Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Collaborative, home visiting requirements and a value-based payment model for maternity care in the Medicaid managed care program, surveillance of severe maternal morbidity, a Maternal and Child Health Fund initiative, increases in WIC enrollment, and new policies for Doulas and Community Health Workers.

"During my career of over 20 years as a perinatal and neonatal nurse, I have seen a great need for help in addressing perinatal mental health, improving connections to community organizations, and building a diverse perinatal workforce," said Kristen Brenneman, MSN, quality improvement facilitator at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. "The statewide collective plan and the recommendations to improve maternal health and reduce racial and ethnic disparities will help address these gaps and build upon the work of the organizations within our communities. I am excited to witness the impact the plan will have to help improve outcomes in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality."

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About the Jewish Healthcare Foundation

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) and its three operating arms — the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), Health Careers Futures (HCF), and the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal) — offer a unique brand of activist philanthropy to advance healthcare innovation, advocacy, collaboration, and education in the interest of better population health. For more information, visit jhf.org. 

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