Notable Heroes in Health Care: Maternal Health Initiative

Ascension Wisconsin, St. Joseph’s Hospital – Milwaukee

Last updated on December 16th, 2020 at 09:15 am

Maternal morbidity rates have dramatically increased over the past 20 years, with significant disparities for women of color, uninsured or underinsured women and women living in lower socioeconomic areas.

Prenatal care is a key determinant in maternal morbidity and infant mortality. In late 2019, Ascension St. Joseph in Milwaukee established the Ascension Maternal Health Initiative to help understand why women missed prenatal appointments and help them overcome any barriers they may experience.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit – which only exacerbated the problems that already existed.

The team quickly shifted their focus and continued to care for their patients by routinely calling them, even providing care for them in their homes. They brought supplies like food, diapers and cleaning supplies with them.

“The pandemic made getting to appointments even more difficult and some patients were scared to leave their homes,” said Dr. Matt Lee, medical director, Women and Families at Ascension Wisconsin. “The maternal health team responded quickly.”

Jequeta Hamm credits the team with saving her life. She was pregnant and living with lupus which put her in a high-risk category for COVID-19.

The team consistently checked on her throughout her pregnancy and after she gave birth. They drove to her house to check her blood pressure after discovering she wasn’t feeling well. With her blood pressure very high they got her to Ascension St. Joseph where she spent four days getting her blood pressure and her cardiomyopathy under control before returning home to her baby.

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