Black women have the highest maternal mortality rate in the U.S. That disparity is also true in Massachusetts, home of Mass General Brigham’s two founding academic medical centers — Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital — where, according to a 2023 Department of Public Health report, the severe maternal mortality rates for Black non-Hispanic birthing people was 2.5 times higher than that of white counterparts in 2020.
To address this profound inequity, Mass General Brigham (MGB) has launched the DrEaMH (Driving Equity and Maternal Health outcomes, pronounced “dream”) Initiative, which is growing with support from the CVS Health Foundation. The foundation has awarded $1.66 million to Mass General’s Kraft Center for Community Health over three years, which will expand the Mass General Brigham’s Birth Partners Program and introduce the Maternal Health Equity Postpartum Program in Suffolk County.
“When it comes to addressing disparities in maternal health, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach,” says Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, Chief Community Health and Health Equity Officer for Mass General Brigham and Executive Director of the Kraft Center. “To truly make an impact, we must be intentional and meet communities where they are. Just one visit can help a parent receive the preventative care they need, and that small measure can make all the difference for a young family. We are incredibly grateful to the CVS Health Foundation for its generous gift and for recognizing the importance of this work.”
Better Access, Better Outcomes
Maternal health disparities are linked in part to patients not having convenient, accessible care options for receiving preventative care, which is why the initiative will deliver maternal health services via mobile van. DrEaMH will also increase access to no-cost doula care for people who are most likely to have adverse pregnancy outcomes during their third trimester and 12 weeks post-birth, known as the “fourth trimester.” This postpartum period is often when care is the most fragmented and inconsistent — and when new parents might need help the most.
“As we continue to see the majority of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. were preventable, we need to ensure people who are pregnant or postpartum get the right care at the right time — particularly for women in under-resourced communities,” says Sheryl Burke, SVP of Corporate Social Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer at CVS Health. “By collaborating with organizations like Mass General who know the community the best, we aim to support their incredible work and help remove barriers to provide better care for moms by meeting them where they are.”
“Black parents should never have to face these kinds of odds when it comes to welcoming a child into the world. With this support, the CVS Health Foundation is changing inequities in care and in outcomes. We’re thankful for this collaboration.”
Thanks to the CVS Health Foundation’s support, Mass General Brigham and the Kraft Center for Community Health expect to reach 100 patients with the Maternal Health Equity Program and 55 with the expansion of the Birth Partners Doula Program. That expanded access will help reduce Cesarean sections among low-risk pregnancies, boost breastfeeding rates, prevent postpartum complications and mitigate other negative outcomes due to hypertension, depression and social determinants of health in patients of color.
“Maternal health equity is one of our top priorities, and one that will benefit from an innovative, community-centered approach,” says Allison Bryant Mantha, MD, MPH, Associate Chief Health Equity Officer of Mass General Brigham. “Black parents should never have to face these kinds of odds when it comes to welcoming a child into the world. With this support, the CVS Health Foundation is changing inequities in care and in outcomes. We’re thankful for this collaboration.”
To learn more about the DrEaMH initiative, please contact us.