Pilot Supports Postpartum Health in Black Moms

Updated March 10, 2024 | Posted December 8, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Black mother holds up her infant; both wear big smiles

Recent­ly, the Inno­va­tion Learn­ing Lab­o­ra­to­ry at More­house School of Med­i­cine con­duct­ed an eval­u­a­tion of Mom’s Heart Mat­ters, a mater­nal heart health pilot launched in 2022 at Lib­er­ty Region­al Med­ical Cen­ter in Hinesville, Georgia.

What is Mom’s Heart Matters?

The pro­gram com­bats the dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly high rates of dis­ease and death among Black moth­ers with high blood pres­sure. It builds on the work of two Lib­er­ty Region­al nurs­es, Heather Daniels and Sandy Wells, and seeks to cre­ate a safe­ty net for post­par­tum moms by con­nect­ing and coor­di­nat­ing care across a num­ber of areas, including: 

  • car­dio­vas­cu­lar health
  • med­ica­tion management;
  • men­tal health; 
  • sub­stance use;
  • breast­feed­ing; and
  • repro­duc­tive health.

Mom’s Heart Mat­ters receives fund­ing from Ameri­group and the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and part­ners with Geor­gia Fam­i­ly Con­nec­tion Part­ner­ship, Geor­gia OBG­YN Soci­ety, More­house School of Med­i­cine and Lib­er­ty Region­al — one of two hos­pi­tals in the state deliv­er­ing high-qual­i­ty obstet­ric care to rur­al communities.

The program’s goal is time­ly triage and a decrease in inap­pro­pri­ate emer­gency room vis­its or hos­pi­tal read­mis­sion,” says Dr. Keisha R. Call­ins, the initiative’s clin­i­cal advi­sor. Any moth­er lost is one too many,” she says. Mom’s Heart Mat­ters gives us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to save lives.”

Eval­u­at­ing Mom’s Heart Matters

The pilot’s key tool, the GoMo Health Per­son­al Concierge, enables new moth­ers to check their blood pres­sure reg­u­lar­ly, regard­less of their phys­i­cal loca­tion, using a Blue­tooth-enabled device that is mon­i­tored by med­ical pro­fes­sion­als. It is designed to inten­tion­al­ly help moms side­step com­mon bar­ri­ers to care, like respon­si­bil­i­ties relat­ed to work, school or their chil­dren that can make sched­ul­ing a vis­it to a doctor’s office dif­fi­cult,” says Kristi­na Sales, a pro­gram assis­tant with the Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. 

As part of the pilot, moth­ers accessed a health improve­ment pro­gram that pro­motes heart healthy liv­ing and offers screen­ing, edu­ca­tion and care coor­di­na­tion with a car­di­ol­o­gist for up to a year after deliv­ery. High­er risk par­tic­i­pants received the Blue­tooth-enabled blood pres­sure cuff for live remote patient mon­i­tor­ing and in-home patient care.

Impor­tant find­ings from the Mom’s Heart Mat­ters eval­u­a­tion include:

  • The pilot recruit­ed 91 moth­ers, rough­ly 70% of whom were Black.
  • The aver­age pro­gram dura­tion for par­tic­i­pants was rough­ly 104 days.
  • While 19% of enrollees opt­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the blood pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram, Black moth­ers account­ed for 90% of mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram participants.
  • In inter­views con­duct­ed toward the com­ple­tion of the pilot pro­gram, moth­ers expressed that the pro­gram met their needs and praised the con­ve­nience of its text-based ser­vice in help­ing them com­mu­ni­cate with their health care team.

In 2023, the remote blood pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing cuff became cov­ered under Med­ic­aid in the state of Geor­gia because of its use in the program. 

This is great exam­ple of tar­get­ed uni­ver­sal­ism’ in the work we do,” says Sales. This was a tool the Mom’s Heart Mat­ters team used specif­i­cal­ly with pre­dom­i­nant­ly Black moth­ers in our pro­gram. Now, Geor­gia res­i­dents regard­less of race or gen­der, can ben­e­fit from it.

The Next Phase of Mom’s Heart Matters

Car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease is the lead­ing cause of death for women with­in one year of preg­nan­cy, accord­ing to the Geor­gia Mater­nal Mor­tal­i­ty Review Com­mit­tee.

In Geor­gia, Black moth­ers are over three times more like­ly to die dur­ing preg­nan­cy com­pared to white moth­ers. The lead­ing caus­es of preg­nan­cy relat­ed deaths in Geor­gia — car­diomy­opa­thy, car­dio­vas­cu­lar or coro­nary con­di­tions, pul­monary embolism preeclamp­sia and eclamp­sia — can occur from six weeks to a year post­par­tum and may be preventable.

Mom’s Heart Mat­ters plans to launch the next phase of its ini­tia­tive at Emory Mid­town Hos­pi­tal. It will part­ner with the Cen­ter for Black Wom­en’s Well­ness to enroll the high­est-risk Atlanta moms in the program.

Learn about efforts to low­er the Black infant mor­tal­i­ty rate in Baltimore

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