Initiative aims to improve women’s health


Registered nurse Kathe Haase (right) reviews Shannon Jackson’s (left) paperwork with her following a blood pressure screenings. These screenings are provided for free to the public by the city and Touro as part of the Healthy Women New Orleans initiative. Photo credit: Shadera Moore

Maria Alvarado

Expecting mothers and newly delivered moms are about to get health help in addition to their new bundles of joy.

The city of New Orleans and Touro Hospital are working together to improve women’s health in the city through the Healthy Women New Orleans initiative.

The initiative consists of a series of information sessions and free screenings at public libraries around the city.

“At each event, women will be provided with free blood pressure screenings, a consultation with a Touro healthcare provider, and information about a number of programs offered by the New Orleans Health Department and other City agencies,” a press release from the city said.

This service, which was announced in September, set out to address a major issue often overlooked in the New Orleans landscape: the health of both new and expectant mothers.

Stacey D. Stewart is the president of March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

“Despite our country’s cutting-edge research and resources, pregnancy-related death has more than doubled over the past 25 years,” Stewart said, “The preterm birth rate has also increased for two years in a row, and one in 10 babies are born prematurely every year.”

This echoes the words of City of New Orleans Office of Youth and Families Deputy Director Camille Alexander, who is the authority figure behind the organization and implementation of the initiative.

Alexander said this initiative exists because her department was trying to improve maternal mortality for women and children in order to “see what can be done in New Orleans with respect to accessibility.”

Working toward accessibility has been made possible, in part, by public libraries, which have served as the locations for the information sessions.

“Libraries are trusted community spaces where people can be connected to credible resources,” the city’s press release said, “Helping parents gain access to the health care and health information resources they and their families deserve is all part of a day’s work at the New Orleans Public Library and [they] are proud to serve as that bridge to better health outcomes for all.”

Alexander also emphasized the importance of the venue, saying that she obtained risk data from public libraries for the program.

Alexander said that thus far, the initiative has paid off. She said she has seen the success in the program’s ability to help people across their lifespan from all walks of life.

“I’ve noticed a very positive and strong reception,” she said.