Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies Begins With Deep Discussions

Close to 70 attendees joined HASC President/CEO George W. Greene, Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) Executive Director Susan Harrington and a slate of expert speakers at the Jan. 24 launch of  Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies. 

Held at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, the event went beyond a ceremonial kickoff with deep discussion on the issues impacting African-American moms that create significant contrasts in maternal and birth outcomes across color lines.

Dr. Deborah Allen of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health outlined the social and cultural influences that hit communities of color that can produce elevated infant mortality and other negative health outcomes for moms and babies.

“In 2018, when the county achieved the lowest-ever black infant mortality rate, the black rate was still twice the rate for other women,” Allen noted. “Why? The science increasingly points to stress – taking a toll on black women over the life span as a major factor, and to racism as the source of that stress.”

Cherished Futures is a public health education and outreach campaign that brings together multiple partners to implement strategies to reduce stress and implicit bias aimed at black women.  

The collaborative’s goals for 2020 are substantial — to explore key interventions focused on clinical, organizational and community level strategies that address birth inequities, and to support pilot hospitals that are developing implementation plans to adopt culturally-relevant clinical and organizational interventions to better serve black women and their families.

The effort also seeks to increase its partners’ capacity to meet the needs of black women and families through a series of implicit bias and cultural humility trainings — and through other learning opportunities.

Epidemiological studies strongly link ethnicity to elevated negative maternal outcomes, Los Angeles County’s Allen related. These social effects are strong enough to outweigh other well-known factors, like alcohol and smoking, for example.

“White women who smoke have fewer low birthweight babies than black women who don’t,” Allen related. “Put simply, the data tell us that racism outweighs smoking, in this case.” 

Other project partners include Health Net, which provided a two-year grant, and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California. A cohort of five hospitals is participating in the pilot initiative: Antelope Valley Hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Centinela Hospital Medical Center, California Hospital Medical Center and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Torrance.

Cherished Futures is aligned and working in close partnership with the Los Angeles County’s African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Initiative, a countywide effort to reduce the gap in infant mortality rates between white and black/African-American babies by 30 percent by 2023.

“The collaborative aims to establish a solid foundation,” said Susan Harrington, CLC’s executive director. “Through the development of well-crafted, actionable implementation plans that have been designed in partnership with black women and families in some of the communities with the greatest needs.”

Susan Harrington
(213) 538-0717