Governor Kathy Hochul announces expanded doula care services

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, June 10, 2024
Gov. Hochuls signs standing order expanding doula care services
Darla Miles has more on Gov. Hochul's announcement of expanded doula care services.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the health commissioner issued an order to expand access to doula care.

"Doula services improve birth outcomes and provide families with emotional support during pregnancy, delivery, and following birth," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "The number of Black people who die while giving birth is indicative of long-standing health disparities resulting from systemic racism, and this is unacceptable."

Gov. Hochul built the funding for doula services into the fiscal year 2025 enacted budget.

This will allow more New Yorkers to access doula care because a recommendation for doula services is required in order to be eligible for Medicaid coverage.

"I want others to look at what we do here as the model of how we protect moms and babies and give them the world class health care that they deserve, so thank you," Hochul said.

Doulas provide physical, emotional, educational, and non-medical support for pregnant and postpartum women before, during, and after childbirth.

Hochul addressed this crisis Monday at a roundtable discussion at Bronx Borough Hall with the borough president and leaders in the midwifery and doula community.

Hochul shared how a call to a doula saved the life of a 30-year-old mother from the Bronx, a borough where the maternal mortality rate is the highest in the city.

"That night she was admitted to the ICU and spent a week there and they saved her life," Hochul said. "She ended up having congestive heart failure."

Among the table of birthing experts was Bruce McIntyre, of saveArose Foundation, who lost his life partner Amber Rose Issacs, who died four days after giving birth in 2020. It's featured in the Hulu documentary 'Aftershock.'

"The care that Amber was receiving, the negligence that she was receiving, of course, happened, well before the pandemic started," McIntyre said. "And of course, once the pandemic started, it exacerbated. They had further excuses to keep ignoring Amber."

Gov. Hochul announced $8 million in funding for the Morris Heights Health Center to build a state-of-the-art maternal health center, which is much-needed in the Bronx, where women of color are nine times more likely to die from childbirth than any other borough.

As of March 1, New York State Medicaid covers doula services. People interested in receiving doula services can search the state health department's directory to find a provider.

In addition, the Doula Expansion Grant Program will allow the Department to award $250,000 to community-based organizations for the recruitment, training, certification, support, and mentoring of community-based doulas.

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