Massachusetts: Governor Healey Orders Statewide Maternal Health Review to Ensure Equitable Care in All Communities

Boston ~ Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has ordered two reviews to ensure that residents, particularly in rural and underserved communities, have access to high-quality health care. This comes after UMass Memorial Health Care confirmed to the Department of Public Health (DPH) that it could not delay the closure of the obstetrics inpatient service at its Leominster campus due to unsafe staffing shortages.

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services will lead a comprehensive review, with a focus on health equity and health outcomes, that includes consideration of access to specialized services like doula care and supports for nutrition, mental health and substance use issues. An additional review will focus on regional access to essential services in the Northern Worcester County area, in the wake of the Leominster campus closure.

Governor Healey stated: "Our administration is deeply concerned about the Leominster closure and health care access generally across northern Worcester County. We are committed to ensuring that all Massachusetts residents have access to high-quality health care, including safe and equitable maternal care. We have the greatest health care system in the country, but there is work we must do to ensure that all of our residents, especially in rural communities and communities of color, have access to comprehensive maternal health care."

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Lieutenant Governor Driscoll added: "These reviews will complement the work of our Director of Rural Affairs in making sure that we have true regional health equity and a strong health care network available in every community across Massachusetts."

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kate Walsh, Undersecretary for Health Dr. Kiame Mahaniah and Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Robbie Goldstein were instructed by Governor Healey to complete two projects by November 15th: a review of prenatal, postpartum and birthing services across the state; as well as a review of access to all essential health services in the Northern Worcester County area with a plan for improvement where needed.

Secretary Walsh commented: "We know that there is much work to be done to address racial and regional inequities in maternity care and health care across the state. We are committed to reviewing all of the factors impacting health equity, including maternal care, to improve health outcomes."

The closure of UMass Memorial's Leominster campus has raised concerns about healthcare accessibility for those living in rural areas or underserved communities. Governor Healey's order seeks to address these issues by conducting reviews on both maternal healthcare services across Massachusetts as well as essential healthcare services within Northern Worcester County. The results from these reviews will be used as guidance for policy decisions aimed at improving healthcare equity throughout Massachusetts.

Filed Under: Government, State

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