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A Commitment to Improving Maternal Health

5 takeaways for Maternal Health Awareness Day

January 23, 2024

On Maternal Health Awareness Day, HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospital community recognize the urgent need to improve maternal health outcomes and reduce racial/ethnic disparities across Pennsylvania.

"Pennsylvania health care providers, policymakers, and stakeholders must work together to ensure that high-quality and equitable maternal care is accessible throughout the commonwealth," HAP President and CEO Nicole Stallings said. "HAP and Pennsylvania's hospitals are committed to being key partners in strengthening maternal health throughout the continuum of care."

Here are five takeaways for maternal health day:

  • Concerning trends:  There has been a 40 percent increase in the rate of severe maternal morbidity from 2016 to 2022, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).
    • PHC4’s report found that severe maternal morbidity rate per 10,000 deliveries in 2022 was 191.5 for Black mothers and 118.1 for Hispanic mothers, compared to 82.4 for white mothers. Nationally, Black mothers are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white mothers, according to the CDC.
    • The CDC recently identified a rise in infant mortality rates for the first time in 20 years.
  • Access concerns:  More than 12 percent of Pennsylvania women do not have a birthing hospital within 30 minutes, according to a Fall 2023 March of Dimes report.
    • This includes 47 percent of women in rural counties who do not live within a half hour of a birthing hospital.
  • Birthing-friendly:  In Pennsylvania, 71 hospitals have been recognized by CMS with the new Birthing-Friendly hospital designation for their quality-improvement programs and evidence-based interventions.
  • New strategies:  Hospitals and health systems are working to improve safe and equitable care for birthing parents before, during, and after birth. This includes specific interventions to address racial disparities in outcomes and initiatives that address the many factors that contribute to maternal health. Some examples include:
  • HAP advocacy:  HAP continues to advocate for policies and legislation that support maternal health. Last month, HAP sent a letter to the Shapiro administration emphasizing maternal health as a core priority for the hospital community and outlining strategies to improve care, including providing Medicaid coverage for doula care and community health workers, expanding home visiting programs, and increasing access to primary and postpartum care.

Recently, HAP’s Board of Directors identified maternal health as a priority area of focus for quality improvement efforts and public policy. HAP has created a member Taskforce on Maternal and Infant Health, to guide these critical initiatives.

Learn more about our maternal health priorities online.