LOS ANGELES, April 14, 2021—Today, Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies — a collaborative effort to reduce Black infant deaths and improve patient experiences and safety for Black mothers and birthing people — hosted a unique virtual discussion marking the second year of its work with hospitals, public health, payers, and Black community leaders. The convening coincided with the fourth annual Black Maternal Health Week, a nationwide awareness week to deepen the conversation about Black maternal health in the U.S. Last month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion declaring April 11-17 as Black Maternal Health Week, and Friday, April 16 the Day of the Black Infant. Today’s Cherished Futures workshop is one of many events happening in L.A. County and across the nation in recognition of this critical week of awareness.
The Cherished Futures collaborative, a joint initiative of Communities Lifting Communities, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, and the Hospital Association of Southern California — launched in January of last year against the national backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to disproportionately impact Black people and other people of color, and the rallying calls for racial justice. Many around the globe awoke to the reality that racism, in its many forms, is a public health crisis.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared racism a public health threat. Racism undergirds the inequities in nearly every major of health status, including COVID-19 cases and deaths that have disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color. Research also points to racism and toxic stress as the root cause of disparate birth outcomes for Black women, babies, and birthing people.
“It is imperative that we clearly share the impact of racism, violence, assault and daily trauma that impact our mental health and livelihood” said Adjoa Jones, Regional Director — SPA 6, L.A. County Department of Health Services, Whole Person Care.
Cherished Futures is a two-year experience that focuses on institutional accountability to advance equity for Black birthing families. Grounded in data and Black experiences, Cherished Futures brings together decision-makers from Los Angeles birthing hospitals, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, health plans, and Black women community leaders to co-design systems-change solutions at the clinical, institutional, and community levels.
In 2020, the collaborative came together for a yearlong capacity-building experience designed to prepare hospital teams to address birth inequities. Together, the group explored foundational topics such as racism’s impact on health, historical and contemporary policies that have harmed Black families, and other systemic drivers that contribute to inequitable birth outcomes. By the end of the year, many of the participating hospitals had developed actionable, community-informed action plans to create change.
“It was important for us to ground this work in the experiences and wisdom of Black women and birthing people, and to elevate how historical and contemporary policies contribute to the inequities we see today,” said Dana Sherrod, Cherished Futures project lead, and Birth Equity & Racial Justice Manager for the Public Health Alliance of Southern California.
This year, the collaborative of nearly 80 clinicians, hospital administrators, the public health department, payers, and Black women community advisors begin the rollout of strategies to create change. They are supported by a team of quality improvement experts and a Black-women community advisor collective that elevate the lived experiences of Black families in Los Angeles to inform quality improvement.
The current Cherished Futures hospitals participating in the second year of the cohort include: Cedars-Sinai, Dignity Health California Hospital Medical Center, and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Torrance.
Cherished Futures is generously funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, First 5 LA, Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, the California Health Care Foundation, and Health Net / Centene Foundation for Quality Healthcare.
To learn more about Cherished Futures, please visit www.cherishedfutures.org.
About Communities Lifting Communities
Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) is a regional community health improvement initiative led by the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) to reduce health disparities and improve community health in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.
About Health Net
Health Net believes that every person deserves a safety net for their health, regardless of age, income, employment status or current state of health. Founded 40 years ago, the insurance provider is dedicated to transforming the health of communities, one person at a time. Today, Health Net’s 3,000 employees and 85,000 network providers serve more than three million Californians. Health Net provides health plans for individuals, families, employers, people with Medicare and people with Medi-Cal — coverage for every stage of life. The plan also offer access to behavioral health services, substance abuse prevention programs, managed health care services for prescription drugs and employee assistance programs.
About the Public Health Alliance of Southern California
The Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Alliance) is a coalition of the executive leadership of eight local health departments in Southern California. Collectively, Alliance members have statutory responsibility for the health of 50 percent of California’s population. The Alliance advances multi-sector policy, systems and environmental change to improve upstream population health and equity.