BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation are donating $1.5 million to Oishei Children's Hospital to bolster its equity, diversity and inclusion work in maternity services.
The money will provide more inclusive pre-natal services, and promises to develop workforce programs to support a more racially-diverse hospital staff.
"It's a priority for us to ensure that every mom who needs care feels safe and comfortable with their care plan," said Allegra Jaros, president of Oishei Children's Hospital.
This investment is music to the ears of Alexcia Harrod, who is vice-president of Melinated Moms, a group dedicated to Black maternal health advocacy and women's empowerment. She hopes this money will prevent situations like one that happened to her when she was delivering her daughter, Aminah, four years ago.
When Harrod was in labor with Aminah, doctors sent her home, convinced she was not ready to deliver.
"I ended up delivering her outside the hospital on an ambulance gurney," said Harrod. "Having to come back to the hospital an hour and a half later after being discharged, with [doctors] saying 'oh, that's not how it's supposed to happen'."
Fortunately, Harrod delivered a happy and healthy baby.
"Thank God that everything worked out well, " said Harrod. "That's not the case for a lot of people. My daughter could have easily been growing up without me."
Among Oishei's priorities on the Labor and Delivery floor is an effort to train staff on specific metrics for specific populations, according to Oishei's Chief Nursing Officer Cassandra Church.
"In different races, we have found that different triggers happen in the first six weeks after birth," said Church.
The hospital is also partnering with area universities to start doula programs, which is something Harrod did not have access to when she was delivering her children because her insurance did not cover it.
"I had to choose whether I was going to get a house or have a doula for my birth. It's those kind of choices that women are having to make all the time," said Harrod.
A CDC study found that the infant mortality rate among Black babies is more than twice as high as it is for white babies. Native Americans and Pacific Islanders face a similar struggle.