UIC, IDPH receive $9.5M for maternal outcomes improvement project

A $9.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration will help the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Illinois Department of Public Health improve maternal outcomes in Illinois. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnancy-related mortality has increased steadily over the last 30 years. The number of deaths has more than doubled since that time, moving from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births to 16.9 in 2016, the latest available data.In Illinois, about 73 women die each year within one year of pregnancy and black women are six times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related condition. With the five-year funding, multidisciplinary researchers from UIC will work with the IDPH Illinois Title V Program and others to launch a series of new systems-level statewide efforts. Efforts include establishing a maternal health task force and improving methods for collecting data and training health care providers. The funding also will facilitate the design and implementation of a first-of-its-kind, two-generation postpartum clinic and research and training center at UIC. The clinic will serve postpartum women and their newborns simultaneously. Nationally, more than 90% of newborns receive routine care. However, postpartum women are much less likely to receive postpartum care, particularly women with low incomes. Implementation of the two-generation clinic is expected in late 2020.The clinic’s medical home model will enroll hundreds of women and their newborns for at least two years and provide comprehensive care including psychiatric support and behavioral pediatrics. The model also will include efforts to address the many social determinants of health that affect women’s ability to be healthy. Last year, Illinois released its first Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Report, which highlighted the need for maternal health care awareness, causes for increased morbidity and mortality, and disparities that exist. Co-principal investigator Stacie Geller is part of a team in Illinois that reviews causes of death among recently pregnant or postpartum women. She said the two-generation clinic and other efforts with IDPH can help fill gaps in care and prevent unnecessary deaths, which account for “far too many deaths in Illinois.” According to IDPH, 72% of deaths among recently pregnant women and 93% of violent pregnancy-associated deaths are preventable.While the numbers are stark, Illinois is actually ahead of many other states, Geller said.Arden Handler, director of Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at UIC and co-principal investigator, said that a key aspect of this grant is to build upon the university’s prior work with the state to advance programs that address maternal mortality using a population approach. Handler said these initiatives include activities like improving emergency room intake processes to include routine screening for recent pregnancy or childbirth, providing women’s health training to home visit care providers, supporting rural providers’ ability to screen and treat postpartum depression, and launching and augmenting other training programs for maternal health care providers.



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