Improving social connectedness to reduce infant mortality rates
Black families often feel stressed, isolated, anxious and depressed as a result of navigating our country’s healthcare system, and an array of social issues. These factors contribute to the high rates of Black maternal mortality and infant mortality. To help address these feelings, we work with our partners and the broader community to learn what Black families need to be more connected to healthcare resources.
Within this outreach, we’re undertaking the following efforts:
- Creating the Kindred Mamas Mentorship Program, which pairs new Black mothers with women who have walked a similar path. Kindred Mama Mentors help their mentees manage life during pregnancy and after giving birth, navigate hospital resources, learn coping strategies, transition home with their baby and more.
- Holding dinner talks, similar to focus groups, with partners in the community to learn how we can help improve African American health in our communities.
- Developing an African American Family Advisory Council to advise Children’s Colorado about the experience of Black patients and families and how the hospital can make improvements.
- Participating in the Community Action Network, which is a collaboration of community organizations, to increase healthy pregnancies and full-term births.
Increasing awareness and education about African American health disparities
One of the first steps in addressing the issues facing Black families is through education. At Children's Colorado, we’re dedicated to informing our team members and community members in multiple ways:
- Developing a definition and framework for health equity for Children’s Colorado and applying principles that help Black families achieve their highest level of health.
- Developing policies, practices and an organizational culture that recognizes and reduces implicit bias.
- Creating resources that connect Black mothers and babies to health services and education, lessening the likelihood of premature births and reducing Black infant mortality.
- Educating our providers and community providers based on the findings of our focus groups.
Creating policy and system changes to advance Black health
We know that social determinants of health have a much greater impact on health than clinical care. This means we can’t improve health outcomes for Black families simply by changing how we provide care within our walls. We need to advocate for policy changes in our organization and through the state legislature that positively impact pregnant individuals and infants, with a focus on advancing healthy equity for Black families. This will help families in our care and across our state for generations to come.
We’re supporting policy changes in the following ways:
- Advocating for policies that ensure robust public health insurance coverage during pregnancy and after birth and improve access to care.
- Advancing policies inside and outside our organization that help healthcare workers provide culturally and linguistically responsive care.
- Educating team members about the impact of policies on health outcomes.
Improving patient-provider relations
Research shows that Black families get lower quality care than other racial and ethnic groups and that providers take Black patients’ concerns and pain less seriously. To address these findings, we collaborate with our patients, their families, community members and partners to provide care that respects the unique experience of Black families.
To improve the healthcare experience of Black families, we’re taking several steps:
- Collaborating with the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, to implement culturally responsive clinical and behavioral health training for our team members and providers. This simulated community course addresses the disproportionate rate of premature births and infant deaths experienced by Black parents and families. Congress, through a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, awarded the program $500,000 to continue the simulation series and expand it to resident physicians. More than 130 team members, providers and community advocates have completed live simulation training under this initiative.
- Improving access to scheduling and support for community members through our Child Health Clinic, Young Mothers Clinic and the Black Mamas Circle.
If you're interested in taking part in our BHI-CAPE simulation training, please email us at: email@example.com.
By taking an honest look at Black families’ experiences, partnering with our community and addressing this issue on multiple fronts, we are proactively changing the health inequities Black families experience.