Cy-Fair hospitals invest in women’s health to keep maternal mortality rate low

Image description
Examining race
Image description
Tracking maternal mortality rates
Image description
Tracking maternal mortality rates

Health care professionals are working to increase awareness and advance women’s health services in Cy-Fair as the Texas rate of maternal mortality—when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth, as defined by the World Health Organization—has garnered national and statewide attention in recent months for its seemingly high numbers.

The state’s maternal mortality rate increased from 10.1 deaths per 100,000 births in 2005 to 38.7 deaths in 2012 before declining slightly to 32.5 deaths in 2015, according to a 2017 report from Texas Health and Human Services. The U.S. maternal mortality rate increased from 15.1 deaths per 100,000 births in 2010 to 20.9 deaths in 2015.

Although a 2016 study reported the maternal mortality rate in Texas nearly doubled from 2010 to 2012, many national and local health experts credit the rapid increase to overreporting and incomplete data. In fact, the U.S. has not published an official national mortality rate since 2007.

The UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston found the rate of maternal morbidity in Harris County increased 53 percent between 2008 and 2015. During this same time, Texas saw a 15 percent increase.

Markisha Mitchell, a registered nurse and community relations professional at Medella Urgent Care in Vintage Park, said there are four major reasons for higher pregnancy-related deaths: poor access to health care, discrimination, lack of information about family planning options and a health care provider shortage.

“We are not exactly sure why a country that touts itself as having the best health care system has this problem,” Mitchell said.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reported the state’s maternal mortality and morbidity rates are around 14.6 deaths per 100,000 live births. The study also found that African-American women and women older than age 35 face the greatest risk for maternal death.

Local efforts

Heath Rushing, senior vice president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Cypress, said the hospital is seeking a Level II designation for neonatal services. He said the demographics of Cy-Fair create an increasing demand for services for women and children, such as a neonatal intensive care unit.

“We are ready to take care of the moms first and foremost and then, of course, once the baby arrives, it’s important to have a support process for making sure that we can care for all of the infants,” Rushing said. “That includes our smallest of infants and our NICU babies.”

Meanwhile, officials at the Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital have embarked on an expansion of the hospital’s on-site childbirth center.

The first phase of the project, which is nearing completion, includes remodeling labor and delivery rooms and renovating the obstetrics emergency department. The second phase, which will begin around mid-2019, involves adding nine new antepartum rooms where expectant mothers can be observed and treated in the event that any complications arise.

Earlier this year, the Willowbrook hospital also become the first in the northwest Houston area to offer midwifery services, including well-women care and breastfeeding support.

Hospital Corporation of America’s Gulf Coast Division—which owns Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital and 13 other hospitals in the region that deliver babies—reported zero maternal deaths since 2017, said Holly Elliot, HCA Gulf Coast Division Vice President of Women’s Services.

“[Maternal mortality] is still a concern for us,” Elliot said. “This is an indicator that we look at each month as a part of our quality care scorecard.”

HCA Gulf Coast assigned a number of experts to work with the Houston Endowment’s Maternal Mortality Steering Committee, which outlined nine solutions in April to improve maternal health—including improving data collection and analysis of women’s health and increasing access to primary care.

“HCA Gulf Coast will adopt these recommendations made by the Houston Endowment,” Elliot said. “We will work with our physicians in each of our markets to ensure that we are focusing on the prevention of maternal death.”

Additional reporting By Shawn Arrajj and Chevall Pryce


Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Harris County. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 907 cases, 12 deaths confirmed July 9

The 12 deaths—the largest single day total in Harris County since the pandemic began—brings the total COVID-19 death count in the county to 423.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

Budget outlook improves for several Cy-Fair taxing entities as sales tax collections rebound

A once uncertain outlook for several Cy-Fair-area taxing entities is starting to improve after sales tax distributions in July—for taxes collected in May—came in higher than expected.

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced the following lane closures planned along Hwy. 290 this weekend. (Courtesy Fotolia)
8 Hwy. 290 lane closures affecting Cy-Fair drivers this weekend, July 10-12

Be sure to note these lane closures before heading out this weekend.

Cypress Creek Fire Department officials can notify residents of nearby emergencies, road closures and other safety alerts on a street-by-street level through the app. (Courtesy Cypress Creek Fire Department)
Cypress Creek Fire Department partners with Ring app

Cypress Creek Fire Department officials can notify residents of nearby emergencies, road closures and other safety alerts on a street-by-street level through the app.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

Craft Burger is one of 15 restaurants, catering companies and food trucks participating in this year's Black Restaurant Week. (Courtesy Craft Burger)
Houston's fifth annual Black Restaurant Week returns July 10-19

Participating patrons can play Black Restaurant Week Bingo and vote for their favorite participating eateries for a chance to win prizes such as restaurant gift cards, culinary treats and cash prizes.

Houston Methodist opened new medical offices at the Boardwalk at Towne Lake this summer. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston Methodist medical offices now open in Cypress

Houston Methodist physicians offer cardiology, women's services, sports medicine, physical therapy and primary care at its Towne Lake offices.

The city of Houston confirmed only 204 new cases July 8, down from over 1,000 July 7, a discrepancy that officials attributed to a "computer system slowdown." (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 701 new cases confirmed as hospitalizations hold steady July 8

The city of Houston confirmed only 204 new cases July 8—down from over 1,000 July 7—a discrepancy that officials attributed to a "computer system slowdown."

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.

Home sales were up across most pricing categories in Houston in June, with a 15.7% jump as compared to the same period last year. (Community Impact staff)
Despite COVID-19, year-over-year Houston-area home sales up nearly 16% in June

Home sales were up across most pricing categories in Houston in June, with a 15.7% jump as compared to the same period last year.