Raising Awareness for Maternal Racial Bias in the Healthcare System

This article was written by our colleague Raquel Rich, Junior Associate, Client Experience; with excerpts from Summer 2022 Interns – Caroline Grunwald, Melanie Markowitz and McKayla Prestininzi

Every year, we task our interns with a project aimed at providing them with experience researching and leading a formal presentation. This summer, we asked the group to identify an area of the healthcare industry where inclusivity and/or diversity could be improved.

This year’s group of passionate communicators chose to research the connection between maternal mortality and racial bias and developed a communications plan that could help address the inequities primarily experienced among Black women.

The goal of their plan was to raise awareness of implicit bias in obstetric practices, offer support to affected women and further educate Healthcare professionals on the implications dismissive care could have on health outcomes.

Following the intern presentation, we asked Caroline, Melanie and McKayla to reflect on the project and what they learned about this important topic.

“When my mother was two months pregnant, she was diagnosed with a uterine blood clot. While this was quickly discovered and treated by doctors, many other women would not have the same opportunity. Hearing the hardships my mother endured brought healthcare into a different perspective for me. Examining racial inequities in maternal mortality was a valuable opportunity to learn about those who are not as fortunate, and to find a way to help them. I am grateful that dna presented the opportunity to exercise our independence and creativity in developing this project.”
– Caroline Grunwald, Client Experience Intern

“Within the U.S., racial inequality has prevailed in maternal healthcare, and there are many issues with that. Statistics show women of color experience significantly higher rates of labor-related complications and deaths, and this statistic is only growing. Something needs to be said, something needs to change. While this topic was challenging, the importance was greater. Both the urgency to communicate this, and the passion we felt for it, allowed us to present a strong campaign to address these issues.”
– Melanie Markowitz, Media Intern

“After learning about maternal mortality and the impact racial bias has on its statistics, I felt compelled to bring this issue to light. This project challenged us on how to identify and best communicate with affected communities. Our goal was to develop a plan that would help facilitate trusting relationships between Black expectant mothers and their providers. Our objectives served as the stepping-stones to achieve this. Despite the challenges of this project, it was so gratifying to complete. I loved working with my fellow interns and enjoyed discussing these approaches with the greater team.”
– McKayla Prestininzi, Digital Intern