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Miller convenes hearing on maternal morbidity and mortality

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller convened a hearing Tuesday, June 27, of the Cook County Board’s Health and Hospitals Committee to hear from stakeholders about the ways  Illinoisans can be better protected during and after pregnancy and childbirth. 

In April, Miller championed a resolution calling for the hearing after reports showed that in 2020, Illinois had a maternal mortality rate of 23 deaths per 100,000 live births, and for Black women, that rate was six times higher — surpassing the national average. 

“More than eight out of 10 maternal deaths are preventable, and the fact that we aren’t doing everything we can do to avoid these deaths is unacceptable,” Miller said. “I’m grateful to all of those who spoke at today’s hearing to help us understand how we can address this crucial issue at the county, state, and federal levels. I also want to thank all of those who shared their own pregnancy and childbirth stories to help bring a better future for our families. We cannot let this moment pass us by – it’s time to treat maternal morbidity and mortality like the crisis that it is, and I’m hopeful today’s hearing can help us chart a new path forward.” 

District 6 Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, at the podium, presides over a hearing Tuesday, June 27,
on maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the county. (Provided photo from Commissioner Donna Miller’s office)

During the hearing, the board heard from policy makers, advocates and medical professionals on what the state needs to do to further prevent pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths. The hearing featured testimony from U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, State Rep. Mary Flowers, Chief Operating Officer of Cook County Department of Public Health Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Advocate Trinity Hospital Gwendolyn Oglesby-Odom, Gynecology Institute of Chicago’s Dr. Nicole Williams, Family Christian Health Center’s Dr. Lisa Green, and others.

Miller called the hearing as part of her broader efforts to address disparities in health care that result in worse outcomes for Black women. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 700 women die in the U.S. each year as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications, with higher deaths in women of color compared to white women. The U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. 

During her time on the Cook County Board, Miller has utilized her previous experience in the healthcare industry to become an advocate for reducing health disparities. In April 2023, she sponsored a resolution at a Board meeting to draw attention to National Minority Health Month and Black Maternal Health Week.

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