Tracy Russell Executive Director Mother and Child Health Coalition
As we celebrate Black History Month at Nurture KC, remembering great achievement and receiving inspiration from those who have contributed so much to America, it is just as important to link the past to the present and learn. History allows us to apply context to current circumstances that should inform actions now and into the future. For our work, that undeniable connection of past and present is clear when we look at infant and maternal mortality along racial lines.

Black women nationally, and in Kansas City are much more likely to experience maternal and infant death. The families that we serve at Nurture KC hail from the ZIP codes of the metro with the highest incidence of infant mortality. These areas are predominantly communities of color. One of the most effective ways to change culture and norms is through public policy.

In Kansas, four lawmakers are trying to do just that in championing legislation that acknowledges the racial disparities that lead to disproportionately high maternal death. Dr. Sharla Smith, University of Kansas Medical Center, and a presenter at Nurture KC’s Annual Meeting on Maternal Mortality last summer, is one of the architects of the legislation. Representatives Gail Finney and Elizabeth Bishop are supporting HB 2108 and Senators Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Mary Ware are applying the same effort to companion bill SB 42 that contains the following elements according to Kansas Division of the Budget:

  • Utilize a social determinants of health review form that includes a section on racial inequities in healthcare, including racial discrimination and other factors related to racism

  • Work with healthcare providers and healthcare facilities to promote the continuity of maternal healthcare for women during and after pregnancy

  • Help healthcare providers and healthcare facilities develop and implement performance measures prioritized by the Secretary in accordance with the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant

  • Strengthen the ability of local health officers to generate and compile maternal healthcare performance indicators

  • Establish an external community review committee that includes stakeholders of color, has access to publicly available data and externally reviews Black maternal death cases
To view the text of the bill, click here.

As the legislative session continues, it is our hope that these bills will receive a hearing and passage as a key first step in addressing and fixing a health disparity that should not exist in 2021. It is time to keep history from repeating itself and find a way to a better future for our moms.

Tracy Russell
Executive Director, Nurture KC
Partnership Spotlight: Our nurse liaison

Did you know Nurture KC has a dedicated Community Health Program Nurse at Truman Medical Centers? Raechel Blades, MSN, RNC–OB, helps moms in our Healthy Start program who need more specialized care to overcome barriers.

"About 80 percent of your health is determined by social needs, such as money, transportation, food and health behaviors. These sorts of social determinants influence women’s access to adequate healthcare," Blades says. "I make sure our moms have prenatal care when they're pregnant, then postpartum care through baby's first year. As a guide and educator, our moms know they can trust me to get their baby off to a healthy start."
Check out this new pro-immunization story on our web site

KC-resident Maggi Pivovar shares: "Why I got the COVID-19 vaccine." Don't miss her unique and inspirational story, and the message she has for others.

Here's a quick excerpt:

"I feel so thankful to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as a healthcare provider. I support vaccination because of what happened to me. In 2007, I thought I had the flu, but 20 hours later I was intubated and comatose, with my organs failing. I was nearly dead. In fact, I had a 98 percent chance to die. Doctors thought I would lose all four limbs and possibly my hearing, vision and a lot of skin – including my nose and ear. I was at a high risk of severe brain damage, seizures and strokes. At the time, I had four young boys – ages 1, 4, 9 and 10. By the grace of God, I overcame the odds. I was fortunate to only lose my legs below the knee and some cognitive function. But, the after effects linger for a lifetime. It’s never over. Did you know COVID-19 also has been known to cause some rare cases of meningitis? Bottom line: The COVID-19 vaccine protects me and every other person I’m in contact with every day."

'Treasure Trove' benefit sale was a win for Nurture KC

To honor its 10th anniversary, Brown Button Estate Sales hosted a benefit sale Feb. 16 to 20 with all net proceeds going to Nurture KC. Brown Button is synonymous with the highest quality merchandise and has a following in the tens of thousands across the metro. FOX 4 News helped us spread the word about this sale, and we were featured on several news segments. Thank you to all our supporters who turned out to shop and rally behind this effort!
Staff Spotlight: Shannon Williams creates safe space for families

Nurture KC has been celebrating Black History Month this February. Check out our Facebook account to browse through some of our posts on this subject. This quote from Shannon Williams, Program Director for our Healthy Start program, is particularly powerful and we thought worth sharing with our members ...
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