Opportunities to engage in Colorado’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee – by Samantha Espinoza

During the 2019 legislative session, the legislature passed and Governor Polis signed HB19-1122 to strengthen Colorado’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC). Now, the Maternal Mortality Prevention Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is working diligently to implement the provisions of the bill, including formalizing the MMRC and developing a report on the causes of and recommendations to prevent maternal mortality in Colorado, which will be submitted to the legislature by July 1, 2020. Interested community members have at least two opportunities to engage in the work of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee:

    1. Help identify the causes of individual maternal deaths by serving as a member of the MMRC. CDPHE is accepting applications for MMRC members, including current resume/curriculum vitae and three references, now through August 15, 2019. Applicants who represent diverse communities with regard to race, ethnicity, immigration status, English proficiency, income, wealth, and geographic region of the state, as well as those who are affected by higher rates of maternal mortality and by a lack of access to the full scope of maternity care health services, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applications will be reviewed to ensure an optimal mix of expertise and experience on the committee and members will be confirmed by October 1, 2019. The MMRC will meet frequently from October through early 2020 to review each case of maternal death in Colorado, to fully understand what happened, and to honor each life that was lost. If you have questions or would like more information about the MMRC and application process, contact Shivani Bhatia at shivani.bhatia@state.co.us.

    1. Help identify solutions to reduce Colorado’s maternal mortality and morbidity rates by participating in stakeholder engagement events. After the MMRC has reviewed each case of maternal death in Colorado, CDPHE will look to stakeholders to inform recommendations and strategies to prevent maternal deaths and improve the health and wellbeing of pregnant and postpartum people in Colorado, based on the causes identified by the MMRC. CDPHE expects to bring stakeholders together in early 2020 to analyze the findings of the MMRC and prioritize recommendations to be submitted to the legislature in July 2020. To express an interest in this opportunity, contact Shivani Bhatia at bhatia@state.co.us.

If you have an interest in maternal health and helping to reduce Colorado’s maternal mortality rate, we encourage you to share your experience and expertise with CDPHE as a member of the MMRC or as a stakeholder influencing the recommendations made to the legislature. Your voice matters!

The Raise Colorado Coalition also offers an opportunity for maternal health advocates to speak up through its Infant and Maternal Mortality Workgroup, which is working to identify legislative and other policy recommendations to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in Colorado, and to shrink disparities impacting communities of color and rural families. To learn more about and join Raise Colorado’s Infant and Maternal Mortality Workgroup, contact co-chair Sam Espinoza at samantha@coloradokids.org.