U.S. Surgeon General visits UIC Nursing to shine light on maternal mortality

U.S. Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams
Diana Rauner

U.S. Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, and Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner, PhD, were among several distinguished guests to speak at an Oct. 18 press conference of the Illinois Department of Public Health, hosted at the UIC College of Nursing/UI Health.

The topic was a first-of-its-kind report on maternal mortality and morbidity in Illinois.

The report resulted from more than a year’s work by the IDPH’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, composed of public health officials, advocates, healthcare practitioners and academic experts, including UIC Nursing clinical professor Carrie Klima, PhD, MS ’86, and clinical assistant professor Patrick Thornton, PhD ’16.

Dean Terri Weaver, PhD, RN, FAAN, ATSF, opened the event, saying, “The UIC College of Nursing is proud to host this discussion and to represent literally hundreds of UIC researchers and practitioners who meaningfully affect care delivery for pre-natal and post-natal mothers.”

IDPH director Nirav Shah went on to speak about committee’s findings, which included the stunning revelations that, in the period of time examined by the MMRC:

  • African-American women in Illinois were six times as likely to die of a pregnancy-related condition as non-Hispanic white women;
  • Hispanic women were twice as likely as white women to experience a pregnancy-related death; and
  • 72 percent of these deaths were preventable.

Admitting that the day’s topic was “somber,” Adams also praised Illinois for taking what he called “bold steps to understand and address this issue.”

Remarks were also delivered by Julie Morita, MD, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health; Emily Gibellina, JD, a mother who experienced life-threatening postpartum complications; and Robin L. Jones, MD, chairwoman of the Illinois Maternal Mortality Review Committee. who remarked, “We all own this. We all have a part in this.”

The news was reported by the Chicago Tribune, WBEZ, the Associated Press and others.