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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Academics & Research

GCSW receives $4.9 million grant to help black women

The Graduate College of Social Work received a grant that will promote preconception care, early prenatal care and other behaviors that can reduce health risks associated with pregnancy. | File photo/The Cougar.

The Graduate College of Social Work has received a $4.87 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration in an effort to help black mothers get better pre- and post-natal care.

On average, black mothers have a mortality rate three times that of white mothers. In certain parts of Houston, this rate is nearly five times the national average, according to the press release. The grant will go toward implementing measures to help reduce these numbers.

“The major disparities in the number of mothers and infants who die or suffer major complications across racial and ethnic groups fueled my passion to lead this initiative. There’s a major problem of inequity here,” said McClain Sampson, associate professor in the Graduate College of Social Work and leader of the program. “By effectively implementing this program, the staff and I can work directly toward racial justice for expectant and pregnant mothers in Houston.”

The initiative will be offered to women of all races but will target black women and their families by promoting preconception care, early prenatal care, longer intervals between pregnancies and other behaviors that can reduce health risk, according to the release.

In addition, a portion of the grant funds will go toward health education programs for mothers and their families. These programs are intended to help teach women about stress management, mental health, nutrition, sleep, sexual health and other topics about well-being maintenance.

Along with programs aimed to educate mothers, Sampson also wants to teach doctors about implicit bias and how it may play a role in how they treat patients of color, according to the release.

Implicit bias is the idea that stereotypes play a role in how people treat others, even if they do not realize it.

The Healthy Start Initiative was started by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The GCSW is one of the 100 different projects nationwide that receive funding for their healthcare initiatives.

“We have a history in this country of disconnected healthcare, and that can lead to very scary outcomes, especially for mothers and children,” said Sampson. “Our case managers will connect them to integrated health centers where they can see the pediatrician, OB-GYN, primary care and behavioral health in the same location. It’s a much more efficient way to take care of families.”

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