Kern County, CA – Supervisor Leticia Perez and the Kern County Board of Supervisors will proclaim May 2022 to be Latina Maternal Health Awareness Month at their May 10th meeting at 9:00 am on Mexican Mother’s Day.
Over 53 percent of women who reside in Kern County are Latina with the majority of Kern County babies (69%) being born to Latinas. Kern County has 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 Kern County have experienced poor pregnancy outcomes and deaths due to pregnancy complications - many linked to medical negligence. These families joined Consumer Watchdog 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 in Kern 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 Health Awareness Month to advocate families at the Board meeting. Tracy Dominguez, Monique Himes, Xavier De Leon, Monica De La Rosa, Nikki Avila, Childbirth Educator and Doula, other mothers from Save a Mom Save a Family, 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 the second highest infant mortality rate of 6.1 per 1,000 births second only to San Luis Obispo County. The high maternal mortality rate and the high infant mortality rate requires a call for action to save the lives of Kern County families.
“My grandson only lived for 18 hours. He was a 5-pound baby boy with curly hair and hazel eyes,” stated Monique Himes. “His mother’s preeclampsia complications were ignored by two providers leaving my grandson to face a postmortem c-section. Without a high level neonatal intensive care unit in Bakersfield, our babies do not have a chance. They are dying while waiting for transport to a hospital hundreds of miles away.”
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 47-year-old $250,000 cap on compensation in medical negligence cases has barred Latinas, babies, and people of color from seeking accountability for their long-term harm and deaths due to pregnancy complications and other forms of medical negligence. A legislative deal announced last week will update the cap over ten years to $1 million in wrongful death cases, and 750,000 in injury cases. Patients would be eligible for up to three caps, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Families in Bakersfield and Kern County were central to winning that change in the law for future families, said Consumer Watchdog.
Read the stories of the Kern County families and other families who suffered from pregnancy complications and medical negligence here: patientsforfairness.org
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