Official: Pennsylvania must ‘do better’ with maternal health services | State and region

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HERSHEY, Pa. — When it comes to maternal health services, Pennsylvania needs to do better, a state official said Tuesday.

Speaking Tuesday from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Department of Human Services Secretary Meg Snead said Pennsylvania needs to “do better” when it comes to maternal health services, following the publication of “very real and very worrying trends”. reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

The CDC report found that from 2019 to 2020 – during the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic – maternal mortality rates increased across the United States, from 20.1 deaths per 100,000 births in 2019 to 23.8 in 2020.

The statistics are even more concerning for pregnant women of color, Snead said.

Among black women, the maternal mortality rate in 2020 was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 births, down from 44.0 in 2019. The national maternal mortality rate for black women is nearly three times higher than the rate for white women non-Hispanic, according to CDC data.

In Pennsylvania, pregnancy-related deaths rose more than 21% in the five years between 2013 and 2018, Snead said.

These statistics explain why DHS has focused in recent years on “improving maternal health care practices,” Snead said, adding that health care providers, such as Penn State Health, have partnered with the department for improvement initiatives.

One of the areas that Penn State Health has focused on is perinatal or postpartum depression, which, if left untreated, “can have a serious impact on day-to-day and long-term health and well-being. term of mothers, can influence the development of the child and can lead to major depressive disorders. disorder and, potentially, death,” the department said in a statement.

In addition to screening patients for postpartum depression before they leave the hospital, Hershey Medical Center also educates staff on best practices for identifying and addressing maternal mental health needs.

“Our multidisciplinary approach to the Moving on Maternal Depression initiative reflects our commitment to the total health of our patients and their families, including physical, mental and emotional health,” said Dr. Amy Cruz, obstetrician/gynecologist and co -Head of Hershey Medical Center’s Moving on Maternal Depression (MOMD) program said. “We are actively working to improve knowledge and management of perinatal depression and to close the gaps about related racial and ethnic disparities.”

In addition to partnering with healthcare providers across the Commonwealth, Snead reiterated that the Wolf administration intends to extend postpartum coverage for those on Medicaid from 60 days to one year later. childbirth, under an optional provision of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Nearly three in 10 births are paid for by Medicaid, Snead said, adding that Medicaid provides health care coverage to 3.3 million Pennsylvanians.

Snead first announced the administration’s intention to opt for the Medicaid expansion during a maternal health briefing last August.

The expansion will be available on April 1.

State Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Philadelphia, who is also a member of the Legislative Women’s Health Caucus, was in attendance Tuesday.

Isaacson said she wanted to “give her support” to the initiatives, adding that she hoped there would be “adequate funding” for continued support for women’s health care initiatives in the next state budget. .

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