The founder of MOMentum Park, Dr. Renaisa Anthony, was born prematurely to a single mother in one of the lowest income zip codes in Detroit, Michigan. Her direct experience and those of her neighbors taught her how poverty, race, access to education, food, and shelter, and other social determinants impact people’s health throughout their lives. As a result, Dr. Anthony is personally and professionally dedicated to health equity by improving the health and lives of underserved and low-resourced communities through medicine, public health, policy, and technology. She built MOMentum Park to continue and expand these decades-long efforts.
Maternal and infant mortality are formidable challenges to the health of women and children around the world. Sadly, the United States leads to mortality/morbidity rates among developed nations despite its wealth. This public health crisis does not affect the population evenly - significant racial and ethnic disparities persist in which African-American women disproportionately suffer from higher rates of adverse outcomes such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and maternal/infant mortality. In fact, the CDC reports African-American women are 49% more likely than white women to experience preterm birth, and their infants are twice as likely as white infants to die before their first birthday.
African-American women are also more likely to experience an exhaustive list of cultural, social, and health stressors like structural racism, implicit bias, historical trauma, domestic and community violence, limited access to quality, trusted care, Medicaid discrimination, chronic diseases, unintended and teen pregnancy and economic distress. Vital Statistics Birth Data estimates 70% of African-American babies are born to single, unwedded mothers, highlighting historical and complex familial factors. Root causes of these social determinants of health perpetuate pregnancy-related disparities.
Promising solutions like Centering Pregnancy Programs are shown to improve outcomes among minority women. Centering is an evidence-based approach where 8-12 pregnant women participate in group-based prenatal care led by a certified health care professional. MOMentum Park takes a cue from this approach and adapts it to meet today’s need for versatility in location and remote services, supplementing prenatal care visits that have decreased after the COVID19 pandemic, and helping to ensure a “community, women-centered” ecosystem in place of one that may lead to isolation. We hypothesize that the changing healthcare system post-pandemic, coupled with ongoing social unrest is exacerbating disparities for pregnant African-American women. These challenges are not insurmountable and represent the ideal opportunity for the success of MOMentum Park’s programs.