The difference in care received by expecting mothers shows an alarming difference when factoring in race.
A report from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was nearly three times the rate for non-Hispanic White women in 2020. Furthermore, the maternal mortality rates for non-Hispanic Black women were notably higher than rates for both non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women. The study also noted between 2019 and 2020, the increases for non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women were significant, while the increase from 2019 for non-Hispanic White women was not.
Two Philadelphia-based, Black-led maternal health companies, Cayaba Care and Cocolife.black, are partnering with Independence Blue Cross (IBX) to begin to reduce severe maternal morbidity. The partnership will involve IBX connecting eligible members with Cayaba Care and community outreach with Cocolife.black.
Cayaba Care provides personalized medical services, including a personal maternity navigator, to members, typically low-income families, to keep tabs on members’ health between regular OB-GYN visits, Cayaba Care will provide services to eligible IBX members as part of the collaboration, with a focus on high-risk patients
Cayaba Care will provide services to eligible IBX members as part of the collaboration, with a focus on high-risk patients, Dr. Olan Soremenkun, the CEO and co-founder of Cayaba Care, said.
“We really focus on how do we help build trusting relationships with patients and how do we build those trusting relationships, reduce the barriers that access high-quality care, and truly support patients in between OB visits to drive towards the outcomes that that that they want we want as a health care system and as a society,” Soremenkun said.
Cayaba Care employs medical professionals from the same communities their members come from so members will feel comfortable opening up about any issues they might be having during pregnancy, Soremenkun said.
Independence Blue Cross goal of reducing racial disparities in maternal health by 50% by 2026, Seun Ross, executive director of Health Equity at Independence Blue Cross, said.
“It is really looking at the landscape, the dire state of the landscape, and making a conscious effort to reverse those trends,” Ross said.
IBX chose to work with Cayaba Care, a maternal health company, and Cocolife.black, a maternal support network, because they are familiar with the needs of their communities.
“It would be remiss for any organization or any company to think that they could reverse or improve disparities in equity alone,” Ross said. “Working with the community is the hallmark of any equity program.”
Cocolife.black uses Doulas, certified nonmedical professionals, to provide emotional support for Black women during and after their pregnancies.
Cocolife.black previously worked with IBX to host a panel about mental health during pregnancy and health equity, with the goal of bringing medical and nonmedical maternal health professionals, like doulas, together to discuss how their role in health equity. Because their missions aligned, Cocolife.black reached out to IBX to seek further collaboration to build trust between community members and health care professionals, which led to the current partnership.
As part of the partnership with IBX, Cocolife.black will provide additional resources to IBX members and will work with IBX to educate community members about maternal health.
“That allows us to be that liaison and build and continue to build this trusted relationship across all of our partner channels,” Alexia Doumbouya, the founder and president of Cocolife.black, said.
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