Local entities invest in women’s health to keep maternal mortality rate low

Texasu2019 mortality rate is higher than the U.S. rate,according to Texas Health and Human Services data.

Texasu2019 mortality rate is higher than the U.S. rate,according to Texas Health and Human Services data.

Image description
Examining race
Image description
Tracking maternal mortality rates
Image description
Tracking maternal mortality rates
Local health care professionals and advocates are working to increase awareness and advance women’s health services in the Tomball and Magnolia areas as Texas’ rate of maternal mortality has garnered national and statewide attention in recent months for its seemingly high numbers.

The World Health Organization defines maternal mortality as a mother’s death from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth.

Texas’ maternal mortality rate increased from 10.1 deaths per 100,000 births in 2005 to 38.7 deaths per 100,000 births in 2012 before declining slightly to 32.5 deaths per 100,000 births in 2015, according to an October 2017 report from Texas Health and Human Services. Over the same period, 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 2010-12, many health experts credited the rapid increase to overreporting and incomplete data. In fact, the U.S. has not published an official national mortality rate since 2007.

“That spike [between 2010 to 2012 in Texas] is not an accurate reflection,” said Ashley Klemm, a Tomball certified labor doula who supports mothers throughout pregnancy. “[Texas] did not just go from bad to really, super bad. There is still an increasing trend.”

An April 2018 study from the Houston Endowment’s Maternal Mortality Steering Committee found the Tomball and Magnolia areas do not have a higher risk of maternal mortality than Texas and Harris County. However, committee member Kay Matthews said rural areas with smaller hospitals and fewer resources or areas that lack a hospital altogether are more at risk.

“It makes a difference when women do not have immediate access to care like [they] would have in a major city,” Matthews said. “It does make it difficult. All women need to have access to care or mental support.”

Local Support of women’s health
Hospital Corporation of America’s Gulf Coast Division—which owns Tomball Regional Medical Center 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.”

Elliot said HCA plans to continue recruiting, investing and expanding services available at the Women’s Center, the gynecological care arm of TRMC, and to the Greater Tomball and Magnolia areas. Since being acquired by HCA Gulf Coast last July, TRMC has doubled its OB-GYNs from three to six.

“I will work with the local team at Tomball Regional as well as with the high-quality physicians in that market to continue to expand services and make sure we are providing comprehensive women’s services to moms and babies in the Tomball and Magnolia area,” Elliot said.

HCA Gulf Coast assigned a number of administration and physician experts to work with the Maternal Mortality Steering Committee, which outlined nine solutions in April to improve maternal health—including improving data collection and analysis of women’s health, addressing implicit bias and increasing access to primary health care and Medicaid-accepting providers.

Identifying factors, solutions
Markisha Mitchell, a registered nurse and community relations professional at Medella Urgent Care in Magnolia, said key reasons for higher pregnancy-related deaths include poor access to health care, a health care provider shortage, discrimination and lack of information about family planning.

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

Matthews, who launched the Shade of Blue Project to provide a community for women of color to discuss their pregnancy concerns and find resources, said women can take a more active role in their postpartum care.

“Having a child doesn’t start and end with giving birth; there has to be even more care after the delivery,” she said. “We need to talk about [maternal mortality and morbidity] more. There is not enough conversation in our communities. It is holding us back.”
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

 See where to order food for takeout or delivery from locally owned restaurants in Tomball and Magnolia amid county and state mandates limiting dine-in services. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Where to find takeout, delivery and curbside pickup in Tomball, Magnolia

Tired of home cooking? See where to order food for takeout or delivery from locally owned restaurants in Tomball and Magnolia.

Harris County Precinct 4 is installing traffic signals at New Hampton Drive and Guernsey Drive in Tomball as part of a larger North Eldridge Parkway improvement project from Clay to Spring Cypress roads. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Traffic signals added on North Eldridge Parkway

Harris County Precinct 4 is installing traffic signals at New Hampton Drive and Guernsey Drive in Tomball as part of a larger North Eldridge Parkway improvement project from Clay to Spring Cypress roads. Pamela Rocchi, director of Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects Division, said the project’s completion was pushed from March to summer due to measures surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

A Harris County administrative judge has ordered county officials to "wholly disregard" an order from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo that involved releasing certain nonviolent inmates from the Harris County Jail. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
Judge orders halt to Harris County inmate release

The plan to release certain nonviolent inmates was announced earlier this week to try to prevent a coronavirus outbreak at the Harris County Jail.

City of Magnolia mulls funding options for new water, wastewater facilities

Kelly Hajek, a representative with Strand Associates—engineering consultants for the city—presented proposals to build a wastewater treatment plant near Mill Creek, estimated to cost $38 million, and a water plant near Spur 149, estimated to cost $10.5 million.

(Kaitlin Schmidt/Community Impact Newspaper)
ROUNDUP: 5 recent coronavirus stories from the North Houston area readers should know

Catch up on some of the latest coronavirus updates for the North Houston area below.

The Texas Department of Transportation's widening of FM 2978 to four lanes is a two-part project. (Courtesy Fotolia)
See where FM 2978 construction is at

The Texas Department of Transportation's widening of FM 2978 to four lanes is a two-part project. The segment from FM 1488 to the south side of Dry Creek—near Hardin Store Road—was 40% complete as of March 1. The widening of the segment from south of Dry Creek to Hufsmith Conroe Road was 68% complete.

Houston Airport System officials expect March passenger data to be significantly lower than in other months. Foot traffic at IAH was light March 24. (Emily Heineman/Community Impact Newspaper)
TSA limits checkpoints at George Bush Intercontinental Airport; Houston Airport System expects significant decline in March passengers

With low passenger travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at George Bush Intercontinental Airport have been consolidated to make better use of resources and personnel, Houston Airport System officials said.

The Texas Department of Transportation is widening the FM 2978 bridge over Spring Creek. (Courtesy Fotolia)
FM 2978 bridge construction to wrap up in third quarter

The Texas Department of Transportation is widening the FM 2978 bridge over Spring Creek from two to four lanes. The project was 74% complete as of March 1, according to TxDOT information.

With more people staying home, events being canceled and business travel limited, hotels in Tomball and Magnolia are seeing significantly lower rates of occupancy. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Tomball, Magnolia hotels see mass cancellations as travel plans, events dwindle

With more people staying home, events being canceled and business travel limited, hotels in Tomball and Magnolia are seeing significantly lower rates of occupancy.

Construction on FM 1774 widening moves along

The Texas Department of Transportation is widening FM 1774 from the Grimes County line to west of FM 1486 from two lanes to four lanes. The project was 88% complete as of March 1.

Volunteers unload food donations for the Montgomery County Food Bank. (Courtesy Drive West Communications)
ExxonMobil makes $250,000 donation to local food banks

The energy company said the Houston Food Bank will receive $200,000, including $50,000 in gasoline gift cards. The Montgomery County Food Bank will also receive $50,000.

Lone Star College is providing tips for parents and students adapting to online learning. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College offers online learning tips for parents

Lone Star College is providing tips for parents and students adapting to online learning.