Addressing maternal health disparities in Washington. D.C. with March of Dimes

In Washington, D.C., the preterm birth rate among Black women is 77% higher than the rate among all other women. In addition, data from the March of Dimes shows far too often, women in this area are receiving inadequate prenatal care — oftentimes related to limited or poor access to quality health care.

To combat these statistics, UnitedHealthcare has teamed up with the March of Dimes to help keep its Mama and Baby Bus operating in medically underserved communities of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area this year through a $50,000 grant.

“UnitedHealthcare continues to be a strong supporter of March of Dimes and the impact it has on our communities,” said Joe Ochipinti, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic. “Through this expanded partnership, we can provide lifesaving maternal medical care, and as a result, our goal is to drive down premature births and the infant mortality rate.”

The Mama and Baby Bus, a collaboration between March of Dimes and University of Maryland Capital Region Health, is designed to provide mobile medical care and resources to pregnant women who are uninsured or underinsured and to those living in maternity care deserts. The 32-foot mobile unit is equipped with two private exam rooms and is staffed by an experienced team of certified nurse midwives that provide a range of care, including:

  • well-woman exams and education
  • infant care and well child visits
  • pregnancy testing and care education
  • care coordination and social supports

“Not only do our midwives help approximately 1,000 patients annually, nearly all of them are uninsured and many are considered high-risk patients with more expensive health care needs,” said Tina Cavucci, senior executive director for March of Dimes. “This important funding will allow us to address the incredible need in our community that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The grant from UnitedHealthcare will allow the bus to continue travel to Wards 7 and 8 in the district and to Prince George’s County three days a week to help care for expectant mothers and babies up to 24 months old.

“UnitedHealthcare’s generous donation to the Mama and Baby Bus is crucial to our efforts to expand our services and accommodate women and babies on the waitlist with life-saving medical care,” Tina said.

Support of the Mama and Baby Bus is one of several initiatives that UnitedHealthcare, along with its parent company UnitedHealth Group, have launched to help address maternal health outcomes throughout the United States. These initiatives include nearly $14 million in recent philanthropic grants to support maternal health. An additional $2.85 million directly supports March of Dimes for a public-private partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services. This effort is part of a multi-sector partnership that aims to reduce disparities and improve rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in hospitals experiencing some of the poorest outcomes across the country.

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