HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — As a practicing OBGYN with Novant Health, Dr. Pam Oliver has long been interested in health equity.

“Being a woman, a mom, being from a rural aspect of this state where there may be access issues, and being a woman of color, this hits home,” said Dr. Pam Oliver. “I think both from a personal and a professional lens, this is very personal for me.”

A recent CDC report looked at 1,018 pregnancy-related deaths between 2017 and 2019, which disproportionately affect women of color. It found the leading cause of death for pregnant women or those within one year of delivery was a mental health condition such as suicide or overdose, followed by hemorrhage and then cardiac and coronary conditions. According to the CDC, 80 percent of these deaths were preventable.

“We have a significant amount of women who are either underinsured or uninsured. And those health conditions can lead to adverse health outcomes for the mom or mortality, which is what we’re seeing in this newest data,” said Dr. Oliver. 

There is work being done to improve those outcomes, such as reducing c-section rates, developing protocols for excessive bleeding after delivery, and creating programs that focus on mom and baby months after they go home from the hospital. But Dr. Oliver acknowledges there’s still a lot left to do.

“I think as community members, it is important for us to support women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant and be that ear, be that voice,” said Dr. Oliver. “There are a lot of peer resources that could be extremely helpful in providing relief for people who need it.”