Maternal Mortality: Raising awareness on the disparities

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Pregnancy is not an an easy 9 months for a woman, physically and mentally. That is why health professionals say it’s incredibly important that their concerns are heard.

“We decided that the whole community needs to get behind this, and we need to do something about these numbers,” said Children’s Safe Harbor Executive Director Jillisa Bondurant.

Those numbers, come shocking to many. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, black women are three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related condition as white women. But this is just some of the data.

“One person dies every five days, and of these deaths four out of five were preventable,” said Bondurant. “So we as a community have the opportunity to save lives.”

That’s exactly what the Winnebago County Health Dept. hopes to do, by raising awareness to the issue. The Winnebago County Board proclaimed the week of April 11 as Black Maternal Health Week.

“We have some of the greatest healthcare, and we proved that throughout the pandemic and yet we are still failing,” said Dr. Sandra Martell of the Winnebago County Health Department.

Now, they hope to succeed, starting with teaching healthcare providers that active listening is crucial when a pregnant woman shares her concerns. For Bondurant, raising awareness hits especially close to home.

“I had to do an emergency c-section for my own child, my first born,” said Bondurant.

Bondurant knows educating the community can help hundreds of women, but did not realize the impact it would also have on her; to reflect on what she overcame.

“Never in a million years would I thought I would be able to use that story to come and partner with other community organizations to advocate for other women,” said Bondurant.

She says this effort to bring awareness is just getting started. On April 28, the Health Department will start a web series that will look at the data, specifically in Winnebago County. Dr. Martell says they are taking this very seriously because it is something they know they can prevent.

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