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First Year Cleveland

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
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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 African American to Caucasian infant death disparity rate has decreased from 6.7 in 2017 to 4.12 in 2018 and to 3.93 in 2019.*

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

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

Recent Accomplishments: To build a foundation for their work, FYC Action Team 1 conducted focus groups to better understand the experiences of pregnant African American, Hispanic, and white women who seek care at the three major hospital systems. The group then used the data from the focus groups to create a journey map illustrating the pain points that the participants experienced throughout their pregnancy.

The study results were used to launch a Bias Awareness Campaign within each health care system. The purpose of the campaign is to inform practitioners on how racism and bias negatively affect maternal and infant health care outcomes. Also, through support from the Ohio Department of Medicaid, hospital leaders, health care providers, social services providers and community health workers received “Everyday Bias for Healthcare Professionals” training, a Cook Ross curriculum addressing unconscious bias in the workplace. 

Co-Chairs: 
Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD, MEd, MPPM, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Adrianne M. Crawford Fletcher, PhD., LISW, LCSW, CWRU
Jasmin Santana, Cleveland City Council


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: Over the last year, grief recovery sessions, remembrance events and community wellness activities have engaged parents and extended family who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or loss of an infant. The Black Infant Loss Society was established as a support network for families. Healing Circles were launched to help families connect to culturally appropriate mental health services and providers. The Pregnancy and Infant Loss website (pailconnect.org) and social media pages (@PAILConnectCLE) have been created, with community resources, upcoming events and more. The PAIL team completed, in collaboration with the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee of Healthy Cleveland, "Toxic: A Black Woman's Story." This short film highlights the effects of racism and toxic stress on maternal and child health outcomes. A film discussion guide was also developed, in partnership with Debra Adams Simmons of National Geographic. The guide is designed to accompany the film and foster meaningful conversations. The film and discussion guide are available for purchase at https://toxicshortfilm.com/. “Toxic” premiered on September 25, 2019 and will now be shown locally at select venues and used to educate health care and social services providers.

Co-Chairs:
Sabrina Roberts 
Tracy Carter


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: Birthing Beautiful Babies is an interventions research designed to reduce race-related and other stressors in expectant African American mothers. The intervention consisted of a seven-week doula led sister collective based on the book, Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fear. In these groups, women received culturally relevant programming, education and advocacy designed to reduce race-related risk factors for low-birthweight and pre-term infants. Participants were followed for one year and contacted quarterly. The quantitative and qualitative data indicated that mothers greatly benefitted from the intervention. They learned and implemented tools to reduce stress and to cope with race-based and relationship stress in meaningful and productive ways. Their husbands, partners and other members of their sister collective also noted the changes. Most importantly, the women formed a kinship bond that continued outside of the meetings.

Co-Chairs:
Christin Farmer, Birthing Beautiful Communities
Angela Neal Barnett, Kent State University


Action Team 11: Coordinate an integrated equity model to address the link between structural racism and infant death.

GOAL: Coordinate an integrated equity model with housing, education, research, health care, and public sector leaders to address the link between structural racism and infant deaths. Determine what must be done to eliminate barriers resulting from these economic and social conditions.

Co-Chairs:
Dr. Arthur James, First Year Cleveland
Margaret Mitchell, YWCA Greater Cleveland 


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