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Charlotte forum looks to improve Black maternal health outcomes

The Reimagining America Project will host a forum on Tuesday in Charlotte to address Black maternal health care.
The Reimagining America Project hosts a forum on Tuesday in Charlotte to address Black maternal health care.

Black women are two to three times more likely to die from complications due to pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A forum in Charlotte on Tuesday will look at ways to improve the odds.

A panel that includes physicians, a midwife and mental health therapists will delve into the ways the healthcare industry can better serve Black women before and after childbirth and prevent complications from ending in deaths. The CDC says more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.

The discussion is hosted by the Reimagining America Project, a group started in 2020, shortly after the murder of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer, to tackle discrimination in various fields like education and criminal justice.

Doug Robinson was a doctor at Atrium Health for 27 years and helped organize the forum. He said the discussion will look at why mortality rates are so much higher for Black mothers.

“There’s a number of different reasons, but you hear the same story, over and over again, from Black women is that ‘they did not listen to me,”' Robinson said. “Black women largely feel unheard, both in the exam room and in the hospital.”

Despite those statistics, Robinson said that it's critical that Black women considering pregnancy must be aware of developments, too.

"There are things that are going on that are going to improve those statistics: Doulas, midwives, centering pregnancy, having standardized care packages in the hospital, access to mental health, increasing the number of Black and brown health care providers, addressing lactation issues, and even starting addressing lactation issues before delivery," Robinson said.

The forum is in partnership with other local organizations: the Coalition for Truth & Reconciliation, Health Care Justice-North Carolina and the League of Women Voters of Charlotte Mecklenburg.

The discussion will occur at Caldwell Presbyterian Church at 1600 Park Drive at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The event is free to attend and will also be streamed online.

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Elvis Menayese is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race and equity for WFAE. He previously was a member of the Queens University News Service. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.