Kern County, CA – Supervisor Leticia Perez and the Kern County Board of Supervisors will proclaim May 2023 to be Latina Maternal Health Awareness Month at their May 9th meeting at 9:00 am. Bakersfield advocates accepting the resolution are also advocating for medical board reform at next week’s Medical Board of California meeting.
Over 53 percent of women who reside in Kern County are Latina with the majority of Kern County babies (63%) being born to Latinas. Kern County has one of the highest pregnancy-related mortality rate (17.8%) than anywhere else in California. Latina Maternal Health Awareness Month and the call for outreach focused on Latinas is a critical step in addressing the growing maternal health crisis in Kern County and throughout our state.
Many of the volunteer advocate families that Consumer Watchdog works with in KernCounty have experienced poor pregnancy outcomes and deaths due to pregnancy complications many linked to medical negligence. These families joined ConsumerWatchdog in an educational campaign which targeted Kern County mothers and families encouraging them to engage in their own healthcare, to look for pregnancy complications, and how to work with their providers to address these complications.
Michele Monserratt-Ramos, Consumer Watchdog’s Kathy Olsen Patient Advocate, led the Bakersfield Families Call to Action Campaign to address maternal health issues inKern County. Monserratt-Ramos will discuss the need for Latina Maternal Health awareness at the meeting when the proclamation is introduced, and the educational campaign that she led in Kern County to address maternal health issues.
“After one article in the local paper identifying a young mother who died prior to childbirth, Tracy Dominguez contacted me to discuss her daughter Demi’s untimely death,” said consumer Watchdog’s Michele Monserratt-Ramos. “That phone call created a domino effect. I continued to receive phone calls from mothers and grandmothers who had all lost their daughters or grandchildren from pregnancy-related complications. I knew then that we needed to focus on the maternal mortality crisis in Kern County.”
Tracy Dominguez, Co-Founder of Save a Mom Save a Family, is one of the mothers who played a lead role in the Bakersfield Families Call to Action Campaign. Tracy lost her 23-year-old daughter Demi Dominguez to undiagnosed preeclampsia. Denied care and offered no diagnosis in a Bakersfield hospital, Demi died of a seizure at home leaving her unborn child to be delivered by a post-mortem c-section. Tracy Dominguez will be sharing her daughter’s tragic story at the Board meeting, and how it has motivated her to focus on Latina maternal health in Kern County and across the state. “My daughter did everything she could to seek help for her and her unborn child but her pleas for help were ignored,” stated Tracy Dominguez. “We failed her, but I am doing everything in my power to make sure that we help other young mothers get safe care and the help that they need.”
Supervisor Leticia Perez will present the resolution announcing Latina Maternal HealthAwareness Month to advocate families at the Board meeting. Tracy Dominguez, MonicaDe La Rosa, and Michele Monserratt-Ramos, Kathy Olsen Patient Advocate from Consumer Watchdog, will be present.
“Health care is a human right. All people, no matter race, gender, or economic status should have access to proper medical care,” stated Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez. “I am proud to work with groups such as Save a Mom, Save a Family to help ensure that our mothers, especially mothers of color, receive the best healthcare possible so that their families can thrive.” Kern County has one of the highest infant mortality rates of 6.1 per 1,000 births. The high maternal mortality rate and the high infant mortality rate requires a call for action to save the lives of Kern County families.
“I am here in support of Latina Maternal Health Awareness Month because I lost my daughter to the maternal mortality crisis,” stated Monica De La Rosa. “We are working to educate our families on how to engage in their own health care and help provide resources for our community.”
Latina Maternal Health Awareness Month is the first step in identifying solutions to the long-term maternal mortality and infant mortality crisis in Kern County. A connection to the Latina maternal mortality crisis is the lack of accountability and transparency with the Medical Board of California. The Bakersfield advocates will be testifying before the Medical Board of California at their May meeting next week to demand that the medical board administer a family interview before a complaint is dismissed and the need for the Medical Board to investigate death and serious bodily injury complaints like other healthcare-related board are required to do. The reforms that the Bakersfield families are advocating for are intended for the Medical Board’s sunset bill. The Bakersfield advocates have put the Central Valley front and center in the fight for accountability. Based on the urging of Bakersfield advocates, the MedicalBoard will bring their quarterly board meeting to Bakersfield for the first time in August.