Leaving Mothers in the Dust

Marani CEO talks about maternity care deserts and what they are doing to improve on the Often Imitated podcast.

Highlights and key takeaways from a conversation between Ben Wilson, Oracle’s Often Imitated Podcast host and Ann Holder, CEO & Founder of Marani.  

Series 1 Post 1.1 – 8

Series 1 Post 2 – 1During the COVID-19 pandemic, mothers everywhere faced restricted access to in-person prenatal care. Mothers were missing appointments out of fear of contracting COVID and hospitals expressed hesitancy towards in-person visits. For many mothers in rural locations, a lack of prenatal care is a constant reality. Maternal health studies have shown fewer than half of all rural counties have a practicing obstetrician or gynecologist (OB/GYN). This increases the likelihood of a mother's death from a pregnancy-related complication by three to four times and contributes to higher rates of infant mortality. Stay tuned for a two-part series coming out soon providing a deep dive into maternity care deserts, the associated risks, and a discussion of solutions. 

One in ten births nationwide occur in counties with limited access to maternity care. The reason behind this limited access? Unequal distribution of hospitals and staff across the US. About 10% of rural counties lost hospital-based obstetric (OB) services over the past couple of decades. As a result of this shortage, the only option for care is to travel. More than half of rural women live more than 30 minutes away to the nearest hospital with perinatal services highlighted by AJOG. The amount of time and money required to travel these distances for basic care is not something available to all, leading to poorer outcomes. Initial studies show a doubling of infant mortality rate where counties have lost OB services. Additionally, out of hospital births, preterm births and deliveries in hospitals lacking OB units has increased. 

 Series 1 Post 1.1 – 8

As Ann shared... staffing rural areas is difficult:

“A lot of maternity care deserts are covered by really large hospital systems, but they're struggling with how to cover these areas better? Because sometimes, especially for high-risk pregnancies, to send a maternal fetal medicine specialist to a rural area is very costly from a personnel perspective. How can you maximize their time staying local while still having a touchpoint that utilizes virtual care with these patients?”  

For more on this two-part series of Through the Desert, see Part 2: Serving the Underserved.