Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies Launches Second Cohort to Address Disproportionate Rates of Black Infant and Maternal Mortality and Morbidity in Los Angeles

Adam Blackstone

Mar 1, 2022

Communities Lifting Communities (CLC), the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, and the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) today announced the launch of the second Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies cohort, a multi-sector collaborative initiative to improve Black patient experiences and safety for Black birthing people and reduce Black infant deaths in Los Angeles County.

In Los Angeles County and across the nation, Black babies and birthing people continue to shoulder disproportionate pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality compared to other ethnic groups, which are likely to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that factors such as education, income, and health status to do not fully explain the gap, but rather points to systemic issues such as racism and toxic stress throughout a woman’s life, which negatively impacts birth outcomes. Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies (Cherished Futures) has become a promising model to engage hospitals and clinics to promote institutional accountability as part of the solution to these longstanding inequities.

The virtual launch was held on February 23, 2022, where nearly 70 collaborative leaders from birthing hospitals, public health jurisdictions, insurance payers, and Black community organizations gathered for the first in a series of workshops, ultimately leading to the development of culturally based hospital improvement plans by the end of this year. During the morning session, attendees were inspired to think boldly and creatively, and were motivated by a call to action from George W. Greene, Esq., President/CEO of HASC; Dr. Deborah Allen, Deputy Director at Los Angeles Department of Public Health; and Gwendolyn Robinson Manning, Black Infant Health Program Coordinator, Long Beach Health and Human Services.

“We all must use our voices to clarify the impact of racism and undoing racism as a path to health equity. This collaborative offers an opportunity to think about all of those roles and more”, said Dr. Deborah Allen.

Six hospitals will participate in Cherished Futures’ second cohort including Antelope Valley Hospital, Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach, St. Francis Medical Center, Torrance Memorial Medical Center and UCLA Health. Coupled with the three participating hospitals from cohort 1, California Hospital Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, project leaders say there is opportunity for county-wide reach.

“Collectively, this group has a tremendous opportunity to make meaningful shifts to advance birth and racial equity in Los Angeles,” said Dana Sherrod, Birth Equity and Racial Justice Manager, and Project Lead, Public Health Alliance of Southern California. “We are striving to build a cadre of institutional leaders that are committed to this work long-term.”

The six delivery sites participating in the second Cherished Futures cohort collectively deliver about 30% of Black hospital births in Los Angeles County. Factoring in the three hospitals that participated in the first cohort, that number jumps to nearly 45% of Black hospital deliveries.

“Creating meaningful and sustainable shifts to advance birth equity takes time, energy, and purposeful leadership at all levels of the health care organization,” said Susan Harrington, President of CLC. “We are grateful for the commitment of our hospital teams and their executive leadership.”

Cherished Futures is aligned and working in close partnership with the Los Angeles County’s AAIMM (African American Infant and Maternal Mortality) Prevention Initiative, a countywide effort to reduce the gap in infant mortality rates between White and Black/African American babies by 30% by 2023.

“Black birthing people are looking for medical spaces that are glad to have us, listen attentively, and to deliver the birth experience of our choosing”, stated Yolonda Rogers-Jones, Program Coordinator Black Infant Health Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Cherished Futures is on a mission to eliminate maternal and infant health inequities and biased care experiences in Los Angeles County so that Black birthing families can thrive. In growing a regional oasis, Cherished Futures will build a cadre of institutional leaders, hospitals, and health systems that are actively addressing these systemic injustices.

To learn more about Cherished Futures, please visit Cherished Futures for Black Moms & Babies

Cherished Futures is funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, First 5 LA, the California Health Care Foundation, Health Net, and Centene Foundation for Quality Healthcare.