Originally posted in the Every Woman Southeast blog, November 2017.
Providers are delivering care within a contained framework that is pressed for time, prohibiting the average provider from really building a relationship with patients. In a perfect world one that we can absolutely develop for generations to come – providers and patients would have a relationship similar to that of the case management relationship shared in Part II of this series. The standard of care would resemble that of the Centering Health model in which patients are empowered partners in their own health care, learning how to take their own blood pressure, weight, height, etc. Additionally, patients would be encouraged and supported to , as we used to say in the Young Families Connect program, “Connect. Engage. Share.” by elevating their voices as storytellers, moving into leadership as a peer educator, and modeling healthy behaviors to the community at large. These participants are sharing their collective health journey over the life course. In my idealized maternal and child health system of care, our research would fully use the community based participatory research approach. Women who had experiences with preterm birth, infant mortality, and the myriad fourth trimester experiences, would ideally inform how providers could best care for their new patients – mothers and children alike. These women would be leading initiatives while research institutions are taking a backseat, providing structural support and simply following the community’s lead. These recommendations are ideal to strengthen trust between community members and healthcare and the research institutions that facilitate studies used to support policy changes and clinical initiatives. These ideals aren’t simply dream theories, but real, actualized initiatives that have successfully mobilized communities and reduced infant mortality rates amongst high risk populations. The University of California San Francisco Preterm Birth Initiative is a prime example of successful partnerships in which voluntary kinship, empowered health care and research are shifting the culture of care in maternal and child health. In our current political and social climate, we cannot afford to continue using the same approaches while hoping for different outcomes.