CLEVELAND (WJW) – In July 2021, Da’na Langford and Tenisha Gaines walked FOX 8 News through the empty space they planned to turn into a women’s health clinic.

Now, they’re putting on the finishing touches ahead of an upcoming ribbon cutting.

“This is real. This is happening. We are doing something great for our community and we’re excited to be doing it,” said Langford, CEO of Village of Healing Center.

Despite pandemic-related delays, Langford and Gaines say their goal remained: eliminating racial health disparities.

According to CDC statistics, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

That’s why Langford says their focus is being culturally-sensitive.

“She’ll get a friendly face at the front that looks like her; she’ll get a nurse that greets her at the door that looks like her. They’ll take her to her room, ask her questions, make sure that those questions are listened to with a culturally-sensitive ear,” said Langford. “Then, she’ll get me as her Black nurse/midwife, walking into the room to care for her and the latest studies show that by me walking in the room to care for her, her infant mortality rate of her child drops by one-third.”

First Year Cleveland, a public-private coalition focused on decreasing Cuyahoga County’s infant mortality rate, reports that in 2020 the number of babies who died before their first birthday dropped to 7.65 per 1,000 live births.

It was the county’s lowest infant mortality rate in 30 years.

However, the gains weren’t evenly shared. In 2020, three Black infants died for every one white infant.

Gaines, Village of Healing’s COO, says private donations and multiple grants are supporting their attempt to lower those numbers even more. The funding also allowed them to hire staff.

“When you first came, it was just Da’na and myself. So, we were able to hire four people since we last saw you just recently, actually,” said Gaines.

Walking down the halls, you’ll notice each room in the clinic is named after a Black person or Black facility in history.

Take the front lobby, for instance. It’s named after Provident Hospital in Chicago. According to Langford, it was the first and only Black owned and operated hospital in the country.

“We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We are only here because of the people that have come before us and have fought blood, sweat and tears to make sure that they can smile down on us and look at this moment,” Langford said.

Looking back on how far they’ve come, both women are proud of what they’ve built.

“I know the last time we met, we just had a concrete floor and a couple of beams, but being able to see it and visualize it and sit in it, is an amazing feeling,” said Gaines.

“I knew what the city needed. I knew that I had the answer and we had the answer and that was all that mattered. I just needed to get it done,” Langford said.

You can tour Village of Healing Center during the clinic’s ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 12. While there, you can meet with the staff and set up future appointments.

Village of Healing currently accepts patients with health insurance from either CareSource or Medicaid. They also offer self-pay and membership options. Soon, all insurance providers will be accepted.

Due to COVID-19, there are three timeslots for the ribbon cutting ceremony. You must register to attend.