For Immediate Release: June 18, 2019
Councilmember Robert White Introduces Bill to
Reduce Maternal Mortality
Today, Councilmember Robert White introduced the
Perinatal Health Worker Training Access Act of 2019
, which establishes a grant program to expand perinatal health worker training programs. The grant would provide women living in Wards 5, 7, and 8 with greater access to high-quality care during their pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum and to provide residents with training for careers as perinatal health workers.
From 2014 to 2016, almost 75% of the mothers in the District of Columbia who died of complications from pregnancy, labor, or childbirth were African-American. White said, “Months ago when I was reading articles about outrageously high maternal mortality rates for Black women in DC, my wife was pregnant with our second daughter. The statistics scared me to my core. Hours after she gave birth, I started working on this bill with my staff from the hospital.” White noted that many factors contribute to DC’s high rate of maternal mortality. His bill addresses one of the most prevalent, access to quality care. White also stated, “Excellent care is available, just not to everyone. We can mitigate this disparity with high-quality, culturally responsive support to women throughout pregnancy and after birth.”
Perinatal health workers live in the communities that they serve and are liaisons between their clients and the health system. Their services include regular pre- and post-natal visits with mothers, labor support, in-home postpartum care, health and wellness coaching, lactation assistance, and referrals to other vital resources.
This bill would require any organization receiving funding through the grant to specifically recruit women from Wards 5, 7, and 8 for training as perinatal health workers. White said, “As we prepare for the new hospital on the St. Elizabeth campus, I want to make sure there are opportunities for residents east of the river to take advantage of jobs that will be created once the hospital is online. Careers in the health field require advanced training and experience, and we need to start building more career pipelines now, so residents are ready when these jobs become available.”
Councilmember White thanks the full Council for their support, including Councilmember Gray, Chairman of Health Committee.
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