Kaiser Permanente Launches Programs to Address Maternal Health Equity


During this Women’s Health Month, Kaiser Permanente is proud to announce the launch of several initiatives to expand robust programs supporting equity in maternal health outcomes. Designed to enhance the experience of expectant and new mothers, the goal of these services drives superior maternal health outcomes for moms and babies of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Maternal health disparities continue to be a pressing issue in healthcare, with significant disparities existing among racial and ethnic groups. Kaiser Permanente recognizes the pressing need to continue to focus on maternal health outcomes and address health inequities.

Kaiser Permanente’s programs demonstrate a commitment to convenient, flexible and comprehensive care for pregnant people.

“Women’s Health Month is a great opportunity to acknowledge the importance of equity in women’s health care, including maternal health care,” said Amy Banulis, MD, an OB-GYN and associate medical director for maternal and child health at Kaiser Permanente. “At Kaiser Permanente, we are dedicated to ensuring that moms of all backgrounds have healthy pregnancies and deliveries. Our new programs for moms on the pregnancy journey have been developed in alignment with our goal to erase healthcare disparities and ensure outstanding, evidence-based healthcare for all.”

Supporting maternal health. Kaiser Permanente offers a robust array of programs to support pregnant individuals, new parents and infants, from pregnancy through postpartum care.

  • Kaiser Permanente Connected Pregnancy Care. Pregnant people at low risk for complications can choose to receive hybrid prenatal care, with some visits taking place virtually from the comfort of the patient’s home or workplace; other visits take place in the doctor’s office. Patients in this program leverage remote monitoring devices including, a Bluetooth-connected scale, blood pressure monitor, fetal doppler and mobile app, allowing caregivers to view the readings. This mix of in-person and video visits supported by remote monitoring tools advances equity and fosters convenience and affordability by reducing the burden of travel, time away from work and childcare to attend appointments.
  • Newborn Care Center. Providing both lactation and newborn care services, the center offers moms and babies visits with a certified lactation consultant within days of delivery and provides breastfeeding support and follow-up care throughout the postpartum period and breastfeeding journey.
  • Centering Pregnancy. Our team supports small groups of expectant mothers with similar due dates through a curriculum of interactive group prenatal care visits. Participants learn about nutrition, common pregnancy discomforts, stress management, labor and birth, breastfeeding and infant care. Centering Pregnancy has a track record of reducing racial disparities surrounding preterm birth and creating lasting friendships. Centering Pregnancy visits are two-hour appointments which gives extra time for more education and emotional support during pregnancy. Evidence suggests patients have better prenatal knowledge, feel more ready for labor and delivery, are more satisfied with care and initiate breastfeeding more often when they participate in Centering Pregnancy. 
  • Maternity Call Center to support pregnant people with urgent health concerns during pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum. The center is staffed with experts ready to address any pregnancy-related inquiries, providing peace of mind around the clock.

We also have launched programs designed for patients at high risk of pregnancy complications:

  • Perinatal Service Center for pregnant people with hypertension, diabetes, or who are at risk for preterm labor. In addition to visits with their obstetrician, patients have a weekly appointment with a perinatal nurse specialist for assessment and education.
  • Remote data monitoring for patients with gestational diabetes or hypertension. Abnormal readings trigger notifications to the patient and a nurse for follow-up care.
  • Early Start Program for pregnant people with substance use disorders, including smoking, alcohol use or recreational drugs use.
  • Perinatal Case Management for pregnant people experiencing food insecurity, unstable housing, unemployment or intimate partner violence receive support based on their individual needs.

Pregnant patients also have access to prenatal care education and support groups, social health screening and intimate partner violence screening.

“These maternal health programs complement Kaiser Permanente’s existing commitment to outstanding, integrated care,” Dr. Banulis said. “Our integrated care model enables our teams to work seamlessly across our medical system, ensuring the smoothest care for each patient with a goal of a healthy pregnancy and delivery for mom and baby. Patients have access to maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pediatric cardiologists, geneticists and any other medical specialist they made need throughout pregnancy, and everyone is working together with the patient’s primary OB physician to assure excellent coordination of care.”

Studying doula care. Kaiser Permanente is launching a new program to evaluate the role that doulas may play in advancing maternal health as part of our integrated care model. This project further underscores Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to advancing maternal health and promoting health equity for all.

Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to maternal health extends beyond clinical care to include research, advocacy, and community partnerships aimed at addressing the underlying factors that contribute to maternal health disparities. By advancing our understanding of the impact of doula support, Kaiser Permanente seeks to inform policies and practices that promote equitable and high-quality maternity care for all individuals.

Serving our diverse community. With more than 8,000 deliveries annually in the Mid-Atlantic region, Kaiser Permanente recognizes the importance of optimizing maternal health, particularly among minority populations. Currently in the Mid-Atlantic region, Kaiser Permanente’s diverse membership is 37 percent, African American, 17 percent Asian, 22 percent Hispanic, 20 percent White and four percent for other and Native American. Our physicians and researchers continually measure outcomes and success in providing equitable care and look for ways to pilot and then quickly expand successful programs.

In addition to caring for more than 800,000 patients in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC, Kaiser Permanente is committed to investing in local communities to improve health. In 2023, Kaiser Permanente awarded $1.38 million in grants to 22 community organizations and nonprofits. Within these grants, Kaiser Permanente extended $100,000 in grants to organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region to specifically support the expansion of maternal care within the community.

  • La Clinica del Pueblo, Inc.: The $50,000 grant was used to expand capacity to provide reproductive health services.
  • Loudoun Community Health Center dba as HealthWorks for Northern Virginia: The $50,000 grant was used to provide educational, dental, behavioral, and emotional health support and postpartum family planning to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality for prenatal patients.

Kaiser Permanente’s longstanding commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity spans more than 75 years, with a workforce that reflects the communities it serves. In fact, in the Mid-Atlantic region, one-quarter of the health system’s physicians within the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group identify as Black, while 36% identify as Asian, and 31% identify as White.

Research shows that diverse medical teams lead to improved patient outcomes. For instance, studies have shown that Kaiser Permanente patients who identify as Black live nearly 10 years longer than the national average for Black Americans, underscoring the positive impact of our diverse physician team.

About Kaiser Permanente:

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and nonprofit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. For more information, go to about.kp.org.

Leave A Reply