FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 16, 2022
Cheryle Rodriguez, Cheryle.Rodriguez@vdh.virginia.gov
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Division of Death Prevention Receives Grant to Build Partnerships with Stakeholders to Address Maternal Mortality in Virginia
(Richmond, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) announced today that Dr. Ryan Diduk-Smith, Ph.D, MPH, CHES director of the Division of Death Prevention has received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase surveillance efforts and create a partnership with the Virginia Neonatal Perinatal Collaborative (VNPC) to further address maternal mortality in Virginia.
“VDH is excited to expand our work around maternal mortality,” said Dr. Diduk-Smith. “With the recent rise in mortality rates, this grant will facilitate further understanding of the issue and give a method for implementing the recommendations of the MMRT to make meaningful change. “This has been a goal of the MMRT for 20 years and this opportunity will meet this goal.”
Starting in September, the OCME will receive $450,000 per year for two years to address maternal death across multiple fronts. The overall mission of this project is to find and review all pregnancy associated deaths and use the partnership with the VNPC to implement policy and programmatic recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Team (MMRT).
“The best part about this collaboration is working towards a shared goal to improve maternal health as a whole across the state,” said Shannon Pursell, MPH, executive director and a grant partner at the VNPC. “None of us can do it alone; but when working together with amazing and passionate people, the sky truly is our limit.
The Division of Death Prevention will continue to build its Maternal Mortality Surveillance program to identify, monitor, and address health issues and their associated risk factors arising from or directly related to maternal mortality in local communities and across the state. The process will involve the addition of qualitative interviews with key informants. This data will be crucial in further understanding the factors associated with maternal death.
The OCME and Maternal Mortality Review Team have a long-standing relationship with the VNPC and are looking forward to expanding the relationship with the use of the federal grant.