By Ramya Dronamraju
Black infant mortality rates are dangerously high in the Kalamazoo Country area. These Black infant mortality rates are correlated to the poverty in the Kalamazoo county area. 85% of Black women live in poverty in Kalamazoo. Factors affecting these rates include poverty and access to resources that are needed to raise a baby. Those living in difficult financial situations may not have access to important resources- materially and with regards to health care. This could potentially worsen the health of mothers and the babies in their care. This paper explores the access to resources mothers may or may not have in Kalamazoo while in situations of poverty and the disconnect in communication between professionals, community members and mothers. Continue reading Poverty and Resources
By Annalise Robinson
In Kalamazoo, black babies are dying at a 4.5 times higher rate than white infants. When we ask the question, “ Why are black babies dying at a higher rate than white?” we must first note that 85 percent of black women giving birth in Kalamazoo County live in poverty. We must then examine the environments in which these mothers and infants reside. Because of the constraints of the segregated neighborhoods, access to adequate health care before, during, and after pregnancies is rare for black mothers in Kalamazoo. Many health and social work professionals in Kalamazoo have named several resources that are available to mothers, but these abundant resources in greater Kalamazoo are not reaching certain communities and neighborhoods for a number of reasons; the inability to access transportation, inadequate family care, and lack of a shared support system of the entire community in the greater Kalamazoo community, to only scratch the surface. Continue reading Neighborhood and Community
By Madeline LeVasseur
Postnatal care involves an immensely critical time in the life of a newborn and its mother. Over two-thirds of all newborn deaths occur in their first week of life, and half of these deaths occur in the first twenty-four hours. In Kalamazoo, the disparity in infant mortality between black and white babies makes this first period of life even more crucial to addressing the rate of black infant mortality in our community. In focus groups with community members, Black mothers have expressed shared feelings of being rushed through this vital period of care after giving birth. Healthcare workers expressed speculations about the degree of respect that mothers are receiving in Kalamazoo and discussed the negative impact of not having a racially diverse staff to interact with a racially diverse community. To address the problem of black infant mortality in the context of postnatal care, we recommend increasing the amount of care after delivery with increased home visits to mothers and their newborns. Furthermore, it is recommended that health facilities require racism training for all staff in order that the relationship between mothers and healthcare professionals be significantly improved. Continue reading Postnatal Care
By Kelsey Hill
Cultural competence refers to a program’s ability to honor and respect those beliefs, interpersonal styles, attitudes and behaviors both of families who are clients and the multicultural staff who are providing services. In doing so, it incorporates these values at the levels of policy, administration and practice (Roberts, 1990). This article includes research from focus group data and cultural competence literature to assess the degree of cultural competency in Kalamazoo healthcare professionals. The author argues that cultural competency is needed in the Kalamazoo community to better suit black mothers and in regards to services and education and improve health outcomes.
Continue reading Cultural Competence
By Mele Makalo
In Kalamazoo, black infant mortality is a pressing issue that demands continued community examination, dialogue, and action. While black infant mortality is not a recent problem in Kalamazoo, the collective community attention towards acknowledging and addressing the issue is. The unfortunate reality that from 2000 – 2012, the county’s mortality rate for white infants was 5.7 deaths per one one thousand births while there were 18.2 deaths per one thousand black infants highlights the critical value of collective community dialogue and engagement in and with the issue of black infant mortality in Kalamazoo.
Continue reading Support through Grief: A Process Dismissed