MHLIC Inaugural Newsletter - April 2020    
Welcome to the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center’s inaugural newsletter! Our Center serves as a national resource to accelerate innovation and evidence-informed practices, connecting innovators from across the country who strive to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. With equity as the cornerstone of all our services, we directly support HRSA's nine State Maternal Health Innovation program award recipients and three Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies program award recipients using a capacity-building assistance model. The Center also serves as a national hub to catalog and disseminate best practices related to maternal health improvement. 

Comprised of a multidisciplinary team of capacity-building and maternal health experts from around the country with a central hub at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we work in partnership with the HRSA award recipients in the areas of engagement, innovation support and policy. In this new time in which we are living, our team of over 35 professionals stands ready to do all we can to support your work and protect America's mothers and babies.
Leadership in the Storm
We are living in a very unusual time. The challenges faced in the maternal health arena have really come to the foreground - mental health care, lactation support, access to services, postpartum education and support, and birth justice. COVID-19 has shown how decentralized our states and health care systems are and how challenging working as one nation is. Guidelines are interpreted differently leading to real confusion on issues such as mother / baby separation and the role that professionals like doulas play on health care teams.

While service provision is changing rapidly, the emergence of billing mechanisms for telehealth services for blood pressure monitoring, mental health, breastfeeding support and care coordination services opens new possibilities. Medicaid is expanding services to new mothers beyond the 60 day window at this time. The American College of OB/GYNs, a lead MHLIC partner, came forward with a str ong endorsement by Dr. Christopher Zahn - “Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by a partner or support personnel such as a doula is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.” Dr. Zahn added, “Labor support can be particularly critical for women who already face health care disparities and other barriers to care.“ As described below, new resources and supports have been made available and innovation is happening daily - such as with the Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere's launch of their Virtual Baby Cafe.

These times call for Adaptive Leadership . Jeannine Herrick from the National MCH Workforce Development Center developed a mini-course to refresh your skills.  View the course here.   And this week is National Public Health Week. The public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be extraordinary. More resources are available at National Public Health Week 2020 , "NPHW@25:Looking Back, Moving Forward."

This can be a time of deconstruction and fear. The glaring disparities in our country are ever present and growing daily. This can also be a time of learning and system transformation. We can lead with an equity lens. We can listen to communities. Together, we can do this.
Above is a map of our grantee locations. 

There are many other maternal health initiatives underway in the US, including Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality (ERASE MM), Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), and Merck Safer Childbirth Cities . Here is where these other major programs are operating in our grantee locations and here is a nationwide snapshot.
Maternal Health COVID-19 Resources
Telehealth Resources

Remote health connection, assessment, and care planning have been increasingly of interest across the United States and are now a necessary component of health care services. Due to COVID-19 protections for patients and health care team members, there are less opportunities for in-person interactions. This can be hard for all involved. 
For expectant and new families who do not have continuous phone or internet access, telehealth and virtual health present significant barriers to care. Screening for such structural determinants of health may be helpful as part of health history and periodic check-ins for patients that you serve. Health care practices may also need to upgrade their equipment to provide telehealth services, including software and reliable, secure internet connections. Additionally, insurance carriers should provide clear guidelines. Here is our evolving resource list that may be helpful as you navigate this opportunity to care for mothers and their families.
COVID-19 Federal Policy Update

The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), a key partner of the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center, has compiled a number of resources related to COVID-19 that are of particular interest to the MCH community and state public health leaders. These include a dedicated  page   on AMCHP’s website as well as helpful summaries and FAQ regarding various legislation passed by Congress in response to COVID-19. We hope you will find these helpful, particularly information about extra support for public health and enhanced paid sick and family leave.    
Postpartum Support and Education

Maternity and postpartum care services are changing rapidly at this time. Pregnant women and new mothers have many questions and significant need for information about postpartum care and recovery. The UNC 4th Trimester Project has co-designed a website with moms of color that offers comprehensive, evidence-based and current information. We encourage you to share this resource with providers, home visitors, community workers and others serving new mothers. We are also daily adding new resources, including virtual baby cafes and meet-up groups as we learn about them. Have resources to add? Let us know in the "talk to us" section of the site. 

Pregnant and new mothers also have significant needs for mental health support.  Postpartum Support International  (PSI) has many resources that are immediately available to new mothers and families including a 24/7 hotline in English and Spanish, support via texts in English and Spanish, and virtual support groups. They also can connect women with providers near them through their resource directory. Anyone can add information to the directory. If you are developing new mental health services in your state via Telehealth, please go to their website to update the information. This is a great national free resource and we encourage you to use it! PSI Helpline: 1-800-944-4773 (#1 in Spanish) or PSI Text: 503-894-9453 English or 971-420-0294 Spanish.
Conception, Contraception and COVID-19

During this time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, people have questions about whether or not they should get pregnant. Others have questions and concerns around accessing contraceptives. Now is the time to lean in and provide people with the information and resources they need to support their reproductive health wishes. To meet this need, the national Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative has created an evidence-based info-sheet for consumers. Click here to access.

The newly refreshed  consumer website has a new COVID-19 section which will be updated daily. The site has a wealth of wellness information and resources for people with additional guidance for people hoping to conceive. A women's health before pregnancy plays an important role in birth outcomes for her and her future baby.

Upcoming Events
Peer Office Hours  
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the MHLIC team has started offering optional, weekly “Peer Office H ours” as an opportunity for award recipients to connect on matters that are critical to their work at this moment. The next office hours will be held on  April 17 at 12 and 3 p.m. EST . Join via Zoom at this link ( Password: mhlic) or
dial 646 558 8656; Meeting ID 632 354 8198.

Webinar: Listening to Understand and Not to Respond Across Different Cultural Contexts
Wednesday, April 22 from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. EST
This webinar will be presented by Camie Goldhammer, MSW, LICSW, IBCLC (Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe). Ms Goldhammer specializes in the affects of complex intergenerational trauma on attachment, bonding and the parenting practices of Native families. She is the founder of the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington. She is also a founding mother of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color. She is a national leader on topics of racial equity and first food justice. View the webinar at this link. Password: MHLIC. Use this link to share event details. Email with questions.

State MHI and RMOMS Learning Institute  
Thursday, May 28 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST .
Our May Learning Institute, intended to gather all 12 award recipients together for peer sharing and learning, has been transformed into a virtual one-day event. The planning committee is still focused on building a peer-led and highly interactive virtual format through the use of breakouts and other technology. Please save the date – registration coming soon. 

September In-Person Events (fingers crossed!)   

National Maternal Health Summit
Wednesday, September 23 2020 Baltimore 
A national learning and innovation conference, highlighting maternal health innovations from around the country. Please save the date – details coming soon. 
State MHI and RMOMS Learning Institute
Thursday, September 24 2020 Baltimore  
This in-person Learning Institute will pick up where we left off in May, leaning into new innovations, skills and tools to advance maternal health innovation. Please save the date – details coming soon.
New MHLIC Resources
Stakeholder Survey

Thank you to those who have taken the time to complete the MHLIC Stakeholder Survey! We appreciate your insights and the resources that you shared. Here is a brief overview of the results. The survey will stay open so we can continue to learn more about the excellent resources and organizations who are making important contributions. Click here to share your ideas and connect with the Center.
"Coming Face to Face with my Biased Self" by Dr. Clifton Kenon, Jr. 
The Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center's  March webinar Coming Face to Face with my Biased Self  was led by Dr. Clifton Kenon, Jr. The first in a 4-part series, this webinar examines personal bias and provides introductory information about implicit bias. The next webinar will be offered on April 22 - see event info above.
 Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) is a key partner of the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center. Their work addresses breastfeeding inequities and disparities in the African American community through improved access and health care reform. In addition to lifting up community needs and concerns and providing expertise on effective engagement strategies for the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center and our grantees, ROSE mod eled innovation in taking their Baby Cafe concept virtual. Interested in learning more about how they did it? Contact Kimarie Bugg .
Resources from MCH Leaders
It’s important to elevate Black Mama voices and perspectives around issues that impact them. Black Mamas are best situated to solve the challenges in their communities. Join the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to amplify effective maternal health policies and solutions for Black Mamas as part of the 3rd Annual Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17.  Register  for their webinar series covering topics such as COVID-19, holistic midwifery care, health policy and more.

Mahmee is a leading maternal and infant telehealth and care coordination platform connecting medical and allied health professionals across the U.S. to ensure all moms and babies receive life-saving, equitable care. Mahmee's patient-centered technology enables communications between diverse care providers, regardless of practice, organization, or role in the community, filling the gaps that lead to outcome disparities. Healthcare providers and allied professionals including doulas can  join Mahmee today  and offer robust telehealth and care coordination  free for the next 6 months . Premium account setup and training is included at no cost during this time. Support mothers and babies better today.  Connect your services  to the Mahmee network. 
From the MHLIC Team to Yours: We are Here to Support You!
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number  U7CMC33636-01 for the National Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center Cooperative Agreement. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.