Source: News & Observer
Soon North Carolina will be receiving millions of dollars from the federal government to help address the worsening maternal health crisis the state has seen. The $4 million grant is part of the US Health Resources and Services Administration’s plan to address maternal mortality nationwide, according to the News & Observer.
As a whole, the US has a high maternal mortality rate compared to other developed nations, but from 2019 to 2021, the number of pregnancy related deaths in North Carolina nearly doubled and was higher than the countries’ overall maternal mortality rate. The rate was even worse for Black North Carolinians, who are more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.
Experts believe that the high maternal mortality rate is due to a variety of systemic failures such as discrimination in the health care system, a lack of accessible maternal health providers, and few postpartum mental health resources. The grant will be divided among several programs in the state that aim to address these issues; services aimed at adding more midwives to the state and connecting pregnant women to prenatal care are prioritized.
- $2 million will fund programs that offer services — like doula services and parent education classes — directly to pregnant and postpartum women in Charlotte and Cumberland and Polk counties. Additionally, the money will go to efforts to address environmental factors, such as housing and nutrition, that can impact health outcomes.
- East Carolina University’s midwifery program will receive more than $900,000 in order to grow the number of nurse midwives in the state.
- The NC Department of Health and Human Services will receive $750,000 to help maternal health providers respond to mental health problems and substance use disorders. The grant will be used to train providers to respond to common mental health concerns and connect mental health experts virtually for a consultation if the problem is more complex.
- NC DHHS will also receive $170,000 to help new mothers and their families navigate new Medicaid enrollment rules, which were brought on by the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. More than half of the babies born annually are covered by Medicaid.