Keeping Current @ the Capitol: Maternal Mortality Study Committee, Meeting Four

Author: HMHBGA Staff

The fourth convening of the House Maternal Mortality Study Committee (MMSC) was held November 21 at 1:00-3:00PM. The MMSC is chaired by Chairwoman Sharon Cooper (Marietta) and Chairman Mark Newton (Augusta). Legislative members of the MMSC include Representatives Chuck Efstration (Dacula), Deborah Silcox (Sandy Springs), Darlene Taylor (Thomasville), Carolyn Hugley (Columbus), and Valencia Stovall (Forest Park). Dr. Chad Ray and Dr. Jane Ellis also serve as citizen members of the MMSC.

This meeting focused on maternal mental health, home visiting programs, telehealth, and biological influences of maternal death. To watch a recording of the meeting visit here. Committee agendas, public announcements, and speaker presentations can be found here. Below is a summary of what was discussed.

Jennifer Barkin, MS, PhD – Associate Professor of Community Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mercer University

  • Dr. Barkin developed the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning, which is a measure used to assess new mothers’ experiences in the year after delivery.
  • Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS) are the most common complication of pregnancy with postpartum depression occurring in 1 in 5-9 new mothers and perinatal anxiety occurring in 15.8%17.1% of pregnancies.
  • It is recommended by a number of leading organizations (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) that the emotional and mood wellbeing of mothers is assessed and screened by healthcare providers.

Toby Goldsmith, MD – Director of the Emory Women’s Mental Health Program

  • Emory University, Georgia Department of Public Health, and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia will be partnered to create a tele-psychiatry line to screen, treat, support, and teach about maternal mental health.
  • The goals of tele-psychiatry line are:
    • Screen al pregnant and postpartum women
    • Treat vulnerable moms
    • Decrease stigma
    • Provide resources to healthcare providers and moms
    • Educate practitioners and others to recognize signs and symptoms
    • Provide consistency in screening across the State
    • Encourage psychiatrists to specialize in women’s health

Anne Patterson, MD – Women’s Telehealth

  • Women’s Telehealth has provided over 31,000 maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) telehealth visits over the last 8 years.
  • Telehealth services include MFM consults, long distance learning, and tele-radiology.
  • In partnership with Albany Health Department’s Centering Pregnancy program, in which telehealth services were provided, preterm birth decreased among African American (18% to 8%) and Hispanic (16% to 6%) over an 18-month period, leading to NICU cost savings of about $ 5.65 million.

Mary Catherine Moffett – Nurse-Family Partnership

  • The Nurse-Family Partnership is a home visiting program that pairs bachelor’s level nurses with first time mothers. The nurse provides prenatal screening and their support offers protection against social disadvantages the mother may face.
  • Nurse-Family Partnership currently provides services to about 105 mothers in Houston County, Georgia.
  • The program has led to a number of positive outcomes across the country including reductions in pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm birth, and maternal death.

Kenneth Braunstein, MD – Hematologist, Northside Hospital

  • Dr. Braunstein presented on hematologic and vascular concepts and considerations in management of pregnancy.
  • Cardiomyopathy causes 23% of U.S. maternal deaths and can potentially be prevented be assessing brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels in pregnant women.
  • Pulmonary embolisms cause 20% of U.S. maternal deaths.
  • Among postpartum women that suffered from a stroke, 80% had no blood pressure issues during pregnancy.