First Year Cleveland

First Year Cleveland

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Biomedical Research Building
11000 Cedar Avenue - 4th Floor Cleveland, OH 44106

Phone 216-368-4837
Home About Us FYC Action Teams Reducing Racial Disparities

FYC Action Teams

Priority Area: Reducing Racial Disparities

(Learn more about what we're doing in this priority area)

GOAL: Reduce Cuyahoga County's 2017 infant death disparity rate of 6.7 by 50 percent by the end of 2020 and to zero by 2025.

RESULTS TO DATE: The Black to white infant death disparity rate has decreased from 6.7 in 2017 to 4.2 in 2020.*

Action Team 1: Address structural racism through workplace bias training.

GOAL: Develop, launch and execute an awareness and employee training campaign to address bias in the healthcare workplace that may negatively affect maternal and child health outcomes. 

Recent Accomplishments: FYC Action Team 1 (led by University Hospitals, CWRU, and Cleveland City Council) is comprised of representatives from the three major Cleveland health care systems, academia, public and private sectors, government and economic development organizations. Action Team 1 was charged with increasing awareness of inequities in care among Black, Latina, and white women who receive prenatal, birth care, and postnatal care at our local health care systems.

To build a foundation for their work, FYC Action Team 1 held nine focus groups to learn about the impact of racial bias in health care. They found that Black women and Latinas reported they did not feel their health care providers listened to their concerns, even going so far as to dismiss their concerns as inconsequential. From there, the group used the data from the focus groups to create a journey map illustrating the pain points that the participants experienced throughout their pregnancy.

Following the focus group sessions, FYC Action Team 1 (led by University Hospitals, CWRU, and Cleveland City Council) implemented an awareness campaign in Cuyahoga County’s three major healthcare systems to call attention to inequities in care received by Black women receiving prenatal, birth care and postnatal services. The campaign includes a series of interactive posters and videos, informs staff on how personal biases negatively impact maternal and child health, and provides interventions that address these biases. 

With funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid, FYC Action Team 1 also arranged for the training of several individuals from multiple healthcare systems, preparing them to deliver Cook Ross- designed Everyday Bias for Healthcare Professionals workshops. Several hundred department leaders, HR departments, CenteringPregnancy® staff members, OB/GYN providers, and other clinicians participated in these workshops to recognize their own biases and discover how biases impact maternal and infant health outcomes. 

In 2020, FYC, led by FYC Action Team 1, was selected as the only organization in Ohio to pilot implicit bias training developed by the March of Dimes and funded by Anthem and FYC. The training, “Breaking Through Bias in Maternity Care,” is focused on addressing racial bias in maternity care, improving maternal and infant health outcomes, and building a culture of equity within healthcare systems. The training will be provided to Greater Cleveland health system leaders, staff members, and clinicians. 


Action Team 2: Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Initiative.

GOAL: Gain insight from African American families that have experienced a loss in order to develop programming and policy solutions.

Recent Accomplishments: FYC Action Team 2 (led by Cuyahoga County and MetroHealth) established the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Society, led by women and men who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. The PAIL Society hosts an annual remembrance event, “Wave of Light,” each October to honor babies who have passed away due to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death prior to one year of age. 

The PAIL Committee, in partnership with the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee of Healthy Cleveland, held the premiere of their film “Toxic: A Black Woman’s Story” in September, 2019. The film has been screened across the United States, including within the three Cleveland healthcare systems. The film was also added to the “Focus 2020: Racial Equity Shorts” program of the Cleveland International Film Festival, and it was featured in six additional national film festivals. The film is available for purchase at https://toxicshortfilm.com/purchase. Proceeds from film sales will benefit the PAIL Society and is an example of FYC Action Team 2’s efforts to establish sustainability. 

Stressing the importance of good mental health, the PAIL Committee also launched Our Wellness Network (OWN) in June 2020. OWN is comprised of Black mental health professionals, parents who experienced loss, clergy and community advocates who provide Black men and women with support to manage pregnancy, parenting, pregnancy and infant loss, depression, anxiety, the effects of racism, and stress. Learn more at http://OurWellnessNetwork.org


Action Team 3: Conduct research on race, stress and maternal health.

GOAL: Lead research efforts to better understand the roles race and maternal stress play in infant deaths. 

Recent Accomplishments: FYC Action Team 3 (led by Birthing Beautiful Communities and Kent State University) conducted doula-led “sister collectives” with nearly 60 Black expectant women. The collectives are an intervention that use culturally competent tools to help women learn to reduce race-related stress and cope with relationship stress in meaningful and productive ways. Hair samples collected from participants at the beginning of the group sessions were found to have cortisol levels associated with anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Feedback from husbands, partners and other members of their sister collective indicated positive changes were observed in members following their participation in the collective.

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