Donald McEachin hosts Black Maternal Mortality Roundtable

Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) hosted a roundtable with local Virginia leaders and community health advocates on Saturday to discuss Virginia’s Black Maternal Mortality Crisis.

Streamed on Zoom, the virtual event featured grief and loss counselor and host of Sisters in Loss podcast Erica McAfee, Dr. Lauren Powell, founder and CEO of The Equitist, LLC and Stephanie Spencer, RN, founder and CEO of Urban Baby Beginnings for an open discussion on maternal health disparities and solutions.

“I wanted to host this event today because our country is facing a crisis – Black women are dying from preventable, pregnancy-related causes at two to three times the rate of white women. This is unacceptable and we have to do something to fix this,” said Congressman McEachin. “I am so thankful that Erica, Lauren and Stephanie joined me this morning to offer their expertise on how we can move forward and address this problem. I will take their ideas with me as we continue to develop policy in Congress to save Black women and babies.”

“Equality does not equal equity,” said Erica McAfee, Grief and Loss Counselor and Host of Sisters in Loss podcast. “We have work to do when it comes to our own biases and how we show up for Black women. We must trust Black women, listen to Black women and respect Black women when it comes to their own health.”

“Being a bedside nurse means that I see someone after something has gone wrong or something bad has occurred,” said Stephanie Spencer, RN, Founder and CEO of Urban Baby Beginnings. “We need to recognize that there have been a whole set of circumstances that have occurred over that person’s lifetime and pregnancy that have led to that outcome occurring. We must work on making sure there is a partnership within the community in hospital and clinical settings. The hospital has the responsibility for caring for sick people, but the community has been the one working with this person and supporting them for such a long time.  There is a break in that system. There is a lack of coordinated care between what is happening in our communities and in our hospitals. We need communication between systems to create support for the pregnant or postpartum person to make sure that person is connected to the resources they need before the worst outcome happens.”

“Two things that we can do to help are to address pay equity and provide better training for future healthcare providers,” said Dr. Lauren Powell, Founder and CEO of The Equitist, LLC. “Black and Latina women are still paid at the lowest rate. It is so important to be able to take time off to care for yourself while you are pregnant, and to have maternity leave to be able to take care of yourself and your child after the birth. We also need to better educate our healthcare systems and our training systems, like nursing schools, medical schools and pharmacy schools, on taking the time to detect who we determine to be worthy of serving as healthcare providers. There is still a lot of racism in the healthcare system that results in Black people and women being told they don’t know what is going on with their bodies, which results in complicated outcomes. We need to make sure that people in these positions of power, like doctors and nurses, are able to treat everyone fairly.”


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