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New York taking steps to improve women’s health during National Women’s Health Week

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

This week is National Women’s Health Week, and New York is taking steps to improve women’s health.

The New York state Legislature has passed numerous bills to strengthen reproductive health and eliminate maternal health care inequities.

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A 2023 report from the state’s Department of Health found discrimination was a probable circumstance in 46% of all pregnancy-related deaths in 2018.

Ali Foti, program officer for the New York Health Foundation, described a grant program they have developed, which focuses on eradicating maternal health disparities.

“We have a grant-making priority area here at the New York Health Foundation called Empowering Healthcare Consumers, which really focuses on ensuring patients who have been marginalized in our health care system are instead placed at the center of their care and are able to make care decisions that align with their needs and preferences,” Foti explained.

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She pointed out the program aims to help mothers and birthing people make well-informed decisions about their care.

2021 report from New York’s Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes made numerous recommendations on how to improve maternal care. Most centered around improving access to health care and services associated with prenatal and postpartum care.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the regularity with which people seek medical care. According to a survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association Health Forum, around 20% of adults said they delayed or were unable to get medical care because of the pandemic.

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Dr. Donna O’Shea, OB/GYN and chief medical officer for population health at UnitedHealthcare, said things have gotten better for people seeking care, like preventive screenings.

“I think it’s better, people are starting to catch up,” O’Shea observed. “But depending on which age group you fall into, you have different needs and special needs for when you’re in early adulthood or in late adulthood.”

O’Shea noted it is important to remind women there are special needs linked to their age, such as starting to screen for cervical cancer at age 21.

America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children report found New York’s rate of cervical cancer screenings of 76.2% came in just under the national average of 77.1%.