New York City – April 4, 2016: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton held a town hall meeting in Brooklyn sponsored by Congress woman Yvette Clarke. Former council member Una Clarke
BROOKLYN, NY: Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso on April 11, announced the appointment of the initial members to his Maternal Health Taskforce. Co-chaired by NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Women’s Health Service Officer Dr. Wendy Wilcox and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull Director of Midwifery Services Helena Grant, additional members of the taskforce include former NYC Councilmember Hon. Una S. T. Clarke, Assistant Commissioner of Brooklyn Neighborhood Health at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Dr. Zahirah McNatt, Executive Director at Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Inc. Ngozi Moses, and mental health advocate Christina Sparrock.
In its first phase, Borough President Reynoso’s taskforce will help lay the foundation for strategizing around his maternal health agenda and expanding the taskforce. The Maternal Health Taskforce fulfills Borough President Reynoso’s commitment to reduce disparities of maternal mortality and morbidity found between birthing people of color and their white counterparts. Currently, Black birthing people in New York City are 9.4 times more likely to die due to childbirth complications than their white counterparts.
“The initial members of our Maternal Health Taskforce bring decades of expertise in maternal healthcare, wraparound services, community engagement, advocacy, and other spaces that are needed to holistically approach the crisis of maternal mortality disparities seen in our communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso. “I look forward to working with these experts and literally saving lives.”
Photo Credit: Brooklyn Borough President Office
In his new position, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso intends to allocate a majority of his FY23 Capital Funding to the three Brooklyn public hospitals to upgrade birthing facilities at each, including but not limited to utilizing state-of-the-art technology to improve patient safety, expanding birthing options, providing new opportunities for patient education, improving continuity of care, and prioritizing privacy and infection control. Borough President Reynoso also looks forward to supporting outpatient services, such as social services and community care models, that address underlying issues facing people of color, increasing health insurance access for all birthing people, and more.
“Every maternal death is a tragedy, not only for the grieving family and community left behind, but for society at large,” said Dr. Wilcox. “Maternal mortality is a key indicator of the health of a society and is a reflection of the functioning of the overall health system in the United States. I commend Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso for shining a spotlight on this tragic issue and I am honored to be chosen as the co-chair of this taskforce. I look forward to working with the Borough President and other stakeholders in Brooklyn to solve this complex and difficult problem.
“I am humbled to accept the appointment as Co-Chair of Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s maternal mortality and morbidity taskforce. I am excited to work with someone so on fire for the holistic health of families,” said Grant. “I look forward to helping co-create new energy that gets activated around what we can do to empower birthing people, families, and communities to live their best lives through increased education, care, understanding, and resources. The Brooklyn Borough President shares my long-held desire to ensure that birth is safe, satisfying, and sacred. Collaborative midwifery care has the power to reconcile the abysmal statistics in Brooklyn as it has in other industrialized nations because it utilizes a relationship-based, shared-decision-making philosophy that addresses issues of reproductive justice, birth equity, health disparities, maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, and primary care. I have absolutely no doubt that in this season, under his leadership, shifts will happen that change the trajectory of the birthing experiences and outcomes in the borough of Brooklyn, making it the sought-out place to receive care and give birth in our city.”
“I was pleased to serve as the co-chair of the Brooklyn Borough President’s Transition Team and look forward to serving on this taskforce. In my tenure in City Council, I have advocated on many health issues, including maternal health and will continue to advocate for funding and collaboration between providers, hospitals and community-based organizations to improve maternal health outcomes,” said Hon. Clarke.
“By working across disciplines and professions, we can confront inequities in maternal health, dismantle harmful systems and structures, and build anew,” said Dr. McNatt. “Families all across this city deserve every opportunity to survive and thrive.”
“I am extremely excited to support our new Brooklyn Borough President in his focus on comprehensive maternal health care; particularly, to tackle the crisis of Black and Brown women experiencing severe morbidity and mortality,” said Moses.
“I am honored to be appointed by Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso to his maternal health taskforce. Health care is a human right, and race should never be a factor in how health care is delivered. Especially during the perinatal period, it’s imperative that women of color receive culturally humble, trauma-informed, and person-centered care as this will strengthen and maintain their emotional wellness,” said Sparrock.