Aunt Martha’s Hosts Maternal Health Roundtable


On Monday, November 8, 2021, Aunt Martha’s was privileged to serve as the setting for a Roundtable Discussion on Maternal Health, hosted by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. Raul Garza, Aunt Martha’s President and CEO, joined a panel that included Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Director of Illinois’ Department of Public Health as well as other leading advocates and respected providers.

Recognizing Rep. Underwood’s Leadership

The purpose of the event, which took place at Aunt Martha’s Humboldt Park Community Health Center, was to highlight Rep. Underwood’s Momnibus Act, HHS investments in maternal health, the Affordable Care Act, and the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. 

“As the co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, Representative Underwood has helped define the vision for equity in maternal health care and outcomes,” said Garza.

“We applaud her leadership and look forward to building on our own 45-year history as a maternal health provider by ensuring the values of equity and diversity she has emedded in the Momnibus Act are always reflected in the way we care for our patients and our community.”

Aunt Martha’s Legacy as a Maternal Health Provider

Congresswoman Underwood asked Aunt Martha’s to host the event as a way of recognizing our organization not only for the work we do today, but also for the role we’ve played over the last 45 years as a pioneer and as an advocate for the rights of all patients to make informed decisions about the care and services they choose to receive. In 1976, Aunt Martha’s introduced a birth control counseling program for teens in south suburban Park Forest. We stood up tough opposition, including threats of physical violence. Aunt Martha’s response was to offer more. Aunt Martha’s became a place where people could ask honest questions and get direct answers.

We’re still that place.

Left to Right: Audrey Pennington, Aunt Martha’s COO; Jose Sanchez, President and CEO, Humboldt Park Health; HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra; Congresswoman Lauren Underwood; Raul Garza, Aunt Martha’s President and CEO; Dr. Charles Barron, Aunt Martha’s CMO.

A Leader in Quality Prenatal Care for Moms of Color

In 2020, Aunt Martha’s health centers provided prenatal care to nearly 3,000 moms. Our providers delivered over 1,000 babies. According to the most recent data, the Latina and non-Hispanic Black and African Moms we serve at Aunt Martha’s are, respectively, 62% and 55% less likely than moms who choose other health centers to have a babies with low or very low birthweights.

Aunt Martha’s Latina Moms are 62% less likely than their peers at other Illinois health centers to have babies with low or very low birthweights (and 70% less likely than health center patients nationally).

And our non-Hispanic Black and African American Moms are 55% less likely than their peers at other health centers (in Illinois and nationally) to have babies with low or very low birthweights.

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