Stuart, Fla. - Jennie Joseph, certified midwife and founder of Common Sense Childbirth Inc., is celebrated for her advocacy and common sense on issues affecting healthy pregnancies, healthy deliveries and healthy babies. In 2022, she earned a spot as one of TIME Magazine’s top 12 women of the year for her work around the world.
Joseph addressed the Healthy Start Maternal Safety Team members and community advocates as the guest of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition on September 8 at the Children’s Services Council of Martin County. She brought her vision for systematic reform of maternal health services that puts women and babies first - before profit, convenience or any of the reasons America trails other developed nations in healthy births.
The Maternal Safety Team grew out of concern over alarming maternal health statistics. Dr. Jeffrey Chapa, Division Chair for OB/GYN at Cleveland Clinic Florida, noted that the United States spends more money than anyone else in the world on maternal health care and yet has the highest mortality rates of developed countries. Half of Black mothers, for example, experience morbidity – near death experiences – in giving birth.
“Money is being spent but not equally,” Chapa said. “We need to come together to look out for the best interests of our patients and the community.”
“Collaborative care saves lives” is one of Joseph’s main messages. “We need to eliminate racial disparities,” she said “but that doesn’t happen from blaming providers or caregivers and certainly not the expectant mothers themselves. The problems grow out of our acceptance of the system, even if it’s not working for the patient. We can only change that by coming together to change the system.”
Under the leadership of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition and through funding from the Children’s Services Council of Martin County, that is exactly what the Maternal Safety Team is doing. “This came out of a lot of scary stories that we don’t want to ever happen again,” Healthy Start CEO Samantha Suffich said. “We have strong and committed community partners working with us to make sure that every baby is born healthy, every mother is supported, and every father is involved. The team members have taken Jennie Joseph’s work to heart and made it our own to make sure that moms are cared for as individuals and each woman is heard regardless of race, ethnicity, language or income.”
The Maternal Safety Team includes: Cleveland Clinic Martin, the Children’s Services Council of Martin County, the Martin County Health Department, and the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition.