Women die of pregnancy-related causes at higher rates in D.C. (36 deaths per 100,000 live births) than any other state in the nation, according to 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. In addition, African American women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women and D.C.’s African American infant mortality rate of 11.3 per 1,000 live births is the nation’s highest.
The MedStar Health’s D.C. Safe Babies and Safe Moms initiative, which launched November 1, 2020 through the generous support from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, aims to improve the health, welfare, and lifelong outcomes of mothers and infants in Washington, D.C. through interdisciplinary, multigenerational care throughout the perinatal health trajectory.
To date, the D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative has served 11,916 individuals during pre-conception, pregnancy, delivery, postpartum and family care up to age 3, which accounts for about 2,300 visits per month. Since its inception, Safe Babes Safe Moms has also addressed critical perinatal health needs for the District’s most vulnerable families and maternal care deserts where critical maternal health services are limited in partnership with Community of Hope and Mamatoto Village.
A few recent program milestones include:
- In April 2021, the Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative received national designation as a ZERO TO THREE HealthySteps site and has delivered critical behavioral health and pediatric services under this program to 80 children ages birth to 3 years, with 20 children belonging to families at high risk, as defined by having a child with developmental delay, history of maternal depression, or child born to a teen parent.
- In May 2021, MedStar Health partnered with Community of Hope to offer obstetric appointments that include sonography services made possible by D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms. Three hand-held ultrasound machines are now in use, on-site at Community of Hope, dramatically increasing accessibility to sonography services for Wards 7 and 8.
- Safe Babies Safe Moms has added perinatal care coordinators to clinics to provide patient outreach and enhanced communication around early prenatal care, which has resulted in a significant increase in adherence to appointment schedules and decrease the no-show rate by more than 30%
- New offerings also include embedded continuous learning for care teams including implicit bias training and trauma informed practice training. These trainings, and other health equity initiatives, seek to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and reduce disparities.
Learn more about the program here.