Perinatal board resigning in spirit of equity and inclusion - Albuquerque Journal

Perinatal board resigning in spirit of equity and inclusion

Dr. Gillian Burkhard

Three months ago, the New Mexico Perinatal Collaborative (NMPC) board of directors was asked to resign by members of the New Mexico Birth Equity Collaborative (NMBEC). In the spirit of equity and inclusion, the NMPC board recognized the importance and urgency of diversifying its leadership and the limitations of a lack of Black, Indigenous, and persons of color in leadership roles at NMPC. On April 17, the board announced its intention to collaborate with NMBEC to reseat a new board of directors.

A 501(c)3 organization, NMPC envisions statewide health equity through the provision of safe, high quality, and respectful reproductive, perinatal, and neonatal care for New Mexico families. The board is comprised of individuals with varied professional and geographic experience, including nurses, advanced practice providers, midwives, and physicians specializing in family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, addiction medicine, neonatology/pediatrics and emergency medicine. As such, board members recognize the shortcomings of the oppressive structures in which healthcare professionals work and commit their clinical and personal efforts to combat these injustices and improve healthcare.

NMPC has rolled out three data-driven safety bundles through the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) since launching the program in 2019. New Mexico remains relatively new to this programming compared to other states. NMPC’s initial focus was to engage hospitals and build quality improvement teams to work on postpartum hemorrhage. Efforts in hospitals were hindered by the need to reallocate resources to tackle the COVID crisis.

NMPC is currently focusing on the implementation of a bundle to support pregnant and postpartum birthing persons struggling with substance use. The board believes that NMPC’s statewide trainings for medication for opioid use disorder and overdose prevention have saved lives and recruiting all but two birthing hospitals to participate in AIM has supported their efforts and data collection, making a positive difference.

The board is proud of staff and volunteers’ outreach efforts conducted in rural facilities. Hospitals participating in the hospital inpatient quality reporting program with the Centers of Medicaid Services must report if they collaborate with a perinatal collaborative to implement bundles like AIM that address maternal mortality, but reporting on specific process and outcome measures remains voluntary for New Mexico facilities, making it more difficult to understand the impact of this work.

The national and state data does not reflect these efforts, and sadly New Mexico is following the trends of many states crippled by the pandemic. No one is satisfied with the ongoing maternal mortality and morbidity that exists and the glaring disparities in maternal health outcomes. A complex crisis remains.

In one of the most under-resourced states with unprecedented provider and staffing shortages and maternity care deserts, we all fall short of tackling the barriers that exist. Quality improvement requires timely data to create meaningful change. New Mexico needs better data systems for facilities – such as the one used in California – to track outcomes in real time. There is no quality improvement without equity. NMPC is only a small piece to the solution.

It is paramount that communities, state agencies and facilities collaborate to address the maternal health crisis in our state. NMPC’s essential work will continue as the board transitions. Together, we must build innovative and collaborative models for change, models that represent diverse voices and all levels of the continuum of care.

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