A decade ago I founded Saving Mothers out of a desire to improve access to reproductive healthcare among marginalized women, and ultimately reduce the extreme rates of maternal mortality for this group. My goal was to “level the playing field” if you will, by developing and implementing low cost, high impact programs for these women, and training their local healthcare providers on clinical and surgical protocols. During this time I have traveled to remote corners of the world, witnessing the impact of extreme disparities through the eyes of women who have little, if any, voice in their communities.
That said, I could never have imagined that I would be witnessing these same disparities within our own community. As maternal mortality rates in the inner cities have escalated in recent years, I felt compelled to develop a program to address the underlying disparities contributing to this issue. Through this “mPOWHER” program, we developed a tool kit for local community healthcare workers to increase the uptake of prenatal care visits among underserved women and to improve the quality of care received at those visits. More recently, as New York City has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we now face an entirely new challenge in serving these women, most of whom are either sheltered in place in their homes or are living in shelters. Their needs now transcend routine prenatal care. Moreover, their immediate concern is their inability to feed and care for themselves and their other young children.
In polling our community healthcare workers, we have identified a list of the most urgently needed items. As you might imagine, this list includes sanitary items like disinfectant wipes, diapers, and baby wipes, but it also extends to more basic needs like bottled water, food, and baby food. We are currently mobilizing resources to purchase these items and deliver them as quickly as possible.