LOUISVILLE, Ky. — District 8 Metro Councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong announced her district is funding a new grant to improve maternal health in Louisville.
At Wednesday's announcement city health leaders said, according to the Commonwealth Fund, the United States has the highest rate of women dying from pregnancy-related complications of any high-income country.
Additionally, Black women in Louisville are 2.5 times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy than white women.
Leaders also highlighted statistics showing 91% of Kentucky's maternal mortality cases were deemed preventable.
"This is something that didn't happen overnight. It's because of a lot of neglect in terms of investing in communities, in terms of investing in populations," Armstrong said. "We're not going to fix it overnight, $10,000 is not going to fix it overnight, but its time we get the conversation started."
District 8 will fund a $10,000 grant for an organization (or group of organizations applying together) working on maternal and infant healthcare projects.
Armstrong said the goal is to invest in the community groups and leaders who are already working to improve outcomes.
Zora's Cradle, for example, provides essential and comprehensive services for moms and families.
Founder and social worker Shemika Whiteside started the initiative after giving birth prematurely and losing her own infant daughter, after just two days.
“Even after that, I was looking for services and couldn’t find them. I was angry for a few years and then decided to do it myself," she said.
Whiteside said funding is the number one thing organizations like Zora's Cradle need. She said transportation too is a major barrier for clients.
She said improvements to health outcomes start with collaboration, and many families just need information about the resources available.
“It’s a true community effort, we need to involve everyone, even grandparents. We need to educate about what’s out there so we can get these numbers to decrease," Whiteside said.
Ana'Necia Williams, founder of Momology Wellness Club, agrees. She added it's crucial for services and opportunities to be available for every step of the motherhood process.
“Oftentimes these are individuals who feel there voice was unheard," Williams said. "Maybe they feel something wasn’t quite right with my pregnancy so now they’re seeking services to find out 'am I getting the care I should have gotten, wondering was my care equitable, what if there are gaps?'"
Armstrong said this grant is just a stepping stone. She hopes to learn from groups who don't receive the money about projects Metro Council should tackle next.
"I will take your ideas, I will take the work you are doing and I will continue to be your champion in government," Armstrong said. "I can't stand here and not ask my colleagues to invest money in solutions that will save lives."
Only 501(c)(3) organizations are able to apply for the grant.
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