Atrium Health Navicent partnered with Middle Georgia State University and the Navicent Health Foundation to kick off Minority Health Month with a free, interactive maternal health event April 6 at Middle Georgia State University.
Atrium Health Navicent Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrice Walker, a board trained OB-GYN shared information about unconscious bias and its unintended impact on health care.
“Georgia has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, and black women in our state are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications,” Walker said. “At a time when individuals across the country are raising awareness about minority health and black maternal health, what better time than right now for us to get out of the hospital and into the community and talk to community members, students and future health care workers.”
A screening of the short film, “Toxic: A Black Woman’s Story,” brought to life the reality of unconscious bias in health care. Walker explained more about what unconscious bias means.
“Unconscious bias is preconceived notions and prejudices about people, places or things that result in unearned positive or negative effects. It’s influenced by a person’s ethnicity, religion, culture, community and the environment we grow up in,” she said.
After the film, a panel discussion and audience question and answer session continued the conversation.
Panelists included Melva Jones, a registered nurse and associate professor of Nursing at Middle Georgia State University who holds a doctorate in nursing practice; Dr. Felicia Love Kitchen, Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program director at Atrium Health Navicent; Dr. Jimmie Smith Jr., Macon-Bibb County Health Department administrator; and Katherine Sylvester, a physical therapist who holds a doctorate in physical therapy and founder of Operation M.I.S.T. (Monitor, Intervene, Survive, Thrive), which aims to help women have healthy pregnancies.
This event was the third in a series of events highlighting maternal health and health disparities. Atrium Health Navicent has previously partnered with Fort Valley State University and Mercer University to hold similar community events.
“Through events like this one, Atrium Health Navicent is raising awareness to disparities in care and is seeking to empower patients, health providers and the community to effect lifesaving changes for women and their babies,” Walker said. “We are committed to keeping this conversation going in hopes of making an impact in improving maternal health.”