Coming together to care for moms
January 21, 2022
For so many of us, mom is a center of strength – the person who kisses our boo-boos when we are little, offers sage advice as we mature, and is a confidant and advisor when we become parents ourselves.
While moms are there for us, we as a state have collectively failed far too many Hoosier moms. Tragically, Indiana moms die during pregnancy or closely afterward at one of the highest rates in the nation. The true scope of the crisis is not fully understood, because historic record-keeping is flawed.
In response, the state established the Maternal Mortality Review Committee with the goal of eliminating preventable maternal deaths. The group of experts rigorously investigated every death potentially connected to pregnancy from 2018-2019. Here’s what they found:
- 25 women experienced pregnancy-related deaths during that time. These women died during pregnancy or within the year afterward as a result of a pregnancy complication, events initiated by the pregnancy, or from an unrelated condition aggravated by pregnancy.
- Another 88 women died of pregnancy-associated deaths. These women were found to have died during pregnancy or within one year from a cause that is not related to pregnancy. Substance use and mental health disorders were among the most common contributing factors.
- In 10 other cases, the team wasn’t able to determine whether the death was directly related to being pregnant.
These numbers are far too high. We must do better.
I am enormously proud that Riley Children’s Foundation is an important part of the solution. Since 2015, the Foundation has provided more than $25 million to our partners at Riley Children’s Health and Indiana University School of Medicine to support their Maternity and Newborn Health programs. And I am especially grateful to our donors, whose thoughtful gifts enable us to fund meaningful solutions.
HOW DONATIONS ARE HELPING ADDRESS MATERNAL HEALTH
A significant portion of the funds we granted have supported dramatic growth in the number of maternal fetal medicine specialists practicing in Indiana. These highly skilled doctors closely monitor mothers with high-risk pregnancies. Their expertise is critical for safe deliveries and the health and well-being of moms and babies.
We’ve also funded Riley’s neonatal and maternal simulation programs that provide onsite and virtual training for hospitals across Indiana. These trainings address infant and maternal mortality by focusing on high-risk scenarios that smaller hospitals may not typically experience due to lower patient volumes. In 2020, the simulation team completed 20 neonatal and 19 maternal simulation programs reaching over 420 learners. Riley Children’s Foundation committed $900,000 to the program this fiscal year alone.
And the new Riley Maternity Tower, which opened in late 2021 at Riley’s downtown campus, is elevating care for moms-to-be overall and prioritizing maternal health.
CONTINUING TO INVEST IN MATERNAL HEALTH
For more than a century, Riley Children’s Foundation has led the state in funding pediatric research and care. We are driven by our commitment to ensuring all children have equitable access to world-class healthcare and the opportunity to live the healthiest lives possible.
Put simply, caring for kids must mean caring for moms.
We know our work has just begun. At Riley Children’s Foundation, we pledge to continue to shine a light on the importance of maternal health, and to continue to fund solutions and innovations that make a meaningful difference in the lives of Indiana moms and families. We invite you to join us.
Our moms deserve nothing less.
If you would like to learn how you can support the Maternity and Newborn Health program at Riley Children’s Health, please contact Pamela Fairchild-Clark at PFairchild-Clark@Rileykids.org.
You may also give online at Rileykids.org/maternity.