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Mothering Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

Because of the Community-Centered Health approach, we were able to have the time, resources, and ability to do community engagement in an authentic way which led to an actual community-led intervention. That community-led intervention today has become an entire movement which has created institutional changes in health care, policy change, and capacity building led by and for community residents. Community-Centered Health is our way of life now and I cannot imagine going back.

Maggie Adams, Program Director, Mountain Area Health Education Center

Location

Asheville, NC

Partners

Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement, Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County, Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) OBGYN, Pisgah Legal Services, SistasCaring4Sistas

Issue Area(s)

Healthy Birth Outcomes for Black Babies and their Mothers

Background

Asheville is a mountain town in western North Carolina known for its art, food, and beautiful natural landscape. However, not everyone is able to have a healthy start to life here. In Buncombe County, African-American babies die at three times the rate of white babies. Limited health care access, implicit bias, and structural and institutional racism among other factors have resulted in inequitable conditions.

Using the Community-Centered Health approach, Mothering Asheville is working to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, racial disparities in infant mortality by changing institutional policies to address structural racism and increase access to preventive services in community-based settings. In partnership with a safety net obstetrical practice, this collaborative has developed a doula program that employs women from the community most impacted by infant mortality to provide lay services to pregnant women from their own community.

Key Achievements to Date

  • Embedded a Medical Legal Partnership attorney in the MAHEC obstetrical clinic
  • Created a pathway for MAHEC to employ birth doulas at a living wage
  • Developed a policy/advocacy didactic component in MAHEC’s medical residency programs

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