EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) — “It takes a village to raise a child.”
It’s likely you’ve heard that saying, in reference to the scores of people who can impact an individual child’s ability to succeed.
Well, Da’Na Langford and Tenisha Gaines say the same goes for empowering Black pregnant women in Northeast Ohio.
The pair are the co-founders of Village of Healing, a nonprofit focused on decreasing racial disparities.
This fall, with their combined 30 years in healthcare, they will open a women’s healthcare clinic.
Why, the focus on Black mothers?
“So, for Cuyahoga County, right now, a Black baby is four times more likely to die than a white baby…but for the city of Cleveland, it’s about six to seven times more likely to die, if you are a Black baby, before the age of one,” said Da’Na Langford.
As Langford explained, the first year of life is critical.
That’s why Village of Healing is teaming up with other Black-led organizations in the area to connect new moms to mental health, housing, mentorship and doula services.
The latest CDC data shows Black pregnant women are at risk, not just their babies.
In 2019, Black women died at a rate of 44 deaths per 100,000 live births.
That was 2.5 times the rate of 17.9 for white women and 3.5 times the rate of 12.6 for Hispanic women.
Langford said not enough providers are listening to their Black patients.
“When that woman says, ‘I don’t feel right’, there should be a probe and a conversation, to listen to her and to examine her. And then, if we still find that everything is normal, to have a conversation with that woman to explain to her what is truly going on with her body,” said Langford.
The clinic will open in Euclid where, according to U.S. Census data, about 61 percent of the population is Black. That’s huge for Langford who will be treating the patients.
She says having similar lived or cultural experiences can help black moms feel understood, advocate for their health and lead to better outcomes.
“Black midwives only account for about five to eight percent of all the midwives nationally.
Black OB-GYNs? Only about three to five percent of all the OB-GYNs nationally.
“So, what are the chances that you’re actually going to walk into a clinic and see someone that looks like you? With our clinic, you get the benefit of walking in and from the front desk, all the way out to the back door, to see everyone that looks like you,” said Langford.
This is personal work for both women.
Gaines has two children and said she only felt heard during her pregnancy because she worked at the institution where she was seen.
“I had the privilege, and I want to say that word, of choosing my care team. So, I chose my nurses and I know who was safe and I chose my midwives and I had doctors on call if I needed a doc, and those were the people that I trusted. Our patients don’t have that choice,” said Gaines.
Village of Healing will take private insurance and Medicaid in addition to offering self-pay and membership options.
Langford and Gaines say, without question, getting a doula is the best thing expectant mothers can do for their health and their child’s health.