The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has received federal funding that will support a key goal of the state’s Early Childhood Action Plan and the Perinatal Health Strategic Plan, reducing maternal mortality. A total of $10 million was awarded through the State Maternal Health Innovation Program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration to address disparities in maternal health and improve maternal health outcomes, with a specific emphasis on preventing and reducing maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.
North Carolina will receive $2 million each year for five years to strengthen partnerships and collaboration by establishing a state-focused Maternal Health Task Force, improving state-level data surveillance on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity, and promoting and implementing innovation in maternal health service delivery.
"Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of our people, which means that we need strong and healthy families, mothers and children," said Dr. Kelly Kimple, Women’s and Children’s Health Section Chief. "This funding allows North Carolina to bolster our perinatal care and serve those in need to improve outcomes for mothers and thereby improve the health of children, particularly among communities of color where unacceptable inequities persist."
DHHS will work collaboratively with stakeholders, health systems, providers, prepaid health plans, individuals with lived experiences and community-based programs to improve the state’s perinatal system of care and improve maternal health outcomes.
This will be achieved through various partnerships, state plans and initiatives, including:
- Convening a Maternal Health Task Force to guide the work and develop a Maternal Health Strategic Plan — an extension of the work of DHHS’s Perinatal Systems of Care Task Force and aligned with the state’s broader Perinatal Health Strategic Plan and Early Childhood Action Plan.
- Focusing on provider training for physicians, midlevel practitioners, nurses and others related to health equity, implicit bias and social determinants of health along with training students from diverse backgrounds on maternal health issues inclusive of health equity, implicit bias and social determinants of health.
- Partnering with the NC OBGYN Society, NC Academy of Family Physicians and NC Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives to recruit and implement a team champion model with obstetricians, family physicians and masters-prepared nurses to identify evidence-based guidelines, educate practices and provide mentoring within their assigned Perinatal Care Region.
- Partnering with the Office of Rural Health to provide telehealth services to increase access to specialty care services within rural and underserved communities.
- Partnering with MomsRising and the NC Healthy Start sites to engage individuals with lived experiences within the Maternal Health Task Force and all components of the North Carolina Maternal Health Innovation Program.
North Carolina is one of nine states receiving funding from HHS to improve maternal health outcomes across the country. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was also awarded the State Maternal Health Innovation Support and Implementation Program to support the nine State Maternal Health Innovation Programs.
For more information on DHHS’s Women’s and Children’s Health Section in the Division of Public Health, visit https://publichealth.nc.gov/wch.