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Reducing the Mortality Rate in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) -- If you look at statistics, it seems the cards are stacked against expecting mothers and their babies here in Arkansas. 

"It's very distressing to hear the numbers and to know that," says Margaret Glasgow with UAMS Outreach. "Also, it should be our job to have good outcomes."

"We are one of the three worst states for maternal mortality in America," says Dr. Curtis Lowery, the chairman of the UAMS OB-GYN Department.

After years of seeing an issue here at home, Dr.Lowery decided to take it into his own hands. 

"We need to be more active in the prenatal care to get women to understand these things," Dr. Lowery sees.

Two alarming statistics, the Natural State sits in the top five for maternal mortality and infant mortality.

"You've got to think outside the box with this," says Dr. Lowery. "We are getting ready to form a Maternal Mortality Commission through the state of Arkansas. We are only one of two states in the nation without a Maternal Mortality Commission."

Dr. Lowery is focusing his efforts as director of the Center for Distance Health on Maternal Mortality. 

Lowery says an estimated 30 mothers lose their lives every year in Arkansas during the labor and delivery process.

"For every one death, there is between 50 and 100 so-called 'near misses', in which the woman doesn't die, but may suffer problems long term as a result of almost dying."

"It can be frustrating, but part of these patient safety bundles is that they can be adapted for local circumstances," says Glasgow. 

Margaret Glasgow is one of the many who works on a team as part of Dr. Lowery's push for change. Glasgow works with the UAMS Outreach program, and for the past two years, her team has been efforting to implement safety bundles in every Arkansas hospital.

"We want to work with these hospitals to maximize their resources," Glasgow says. "Every patient deserves the best possible care and the best possible outcomes, so we want to help these hospitals help themselves."

Glasgow's team travels from hospital to hospital in hopes of standardizing care for delivery. These safety bundles direct the medical professionals on what to do during the labor and delivery process, putting everyone in every hospital on the same page when it comes to maternal care. 

This, in turn, reduces the number of mothers who die in childbirth. 

She is hoping all hospitals will offer this standard within the next five to 10 years.

Something that could help Arkansas change its startling state rank for maternal and infant mortality.

A goal Dr. Lowery says he and his team refuse to give up on. 

"The hospitals are going to see us talking about this and it's going to encourage them to, again, to begin to aggressively deploy these systems on their labor and delivery, so that we don't lose a single woman in the state of Arkansas that didn't need to die at a young age," says Dr. Lowery.

For more information on this topic, you can visit https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/. 


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