Community Engagement

Our department has been involved in improving health outcomes and eliminating health care disparities on the national, state, regional and local levels. Dr. Tracy Webber, Director of our Midwifery Division and Co-Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for OB/Gyn brings these efforts into focus.

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The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021

Article By: Tracy Webber, DNP, MPA

In the richest nation on earth, moms are dying at the highest rate in the developed world – and the rate is rising. For as dire as the situation is for all women and birthing people, the crisis is most severe for Black moms, who are dying at 3 to 4 times the rate of their white counterparts. Native Americans are more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. One study found that in New York City, Hispanic birthing people experienced severe maternal morbidity at 1.8 times the rate of non-Hispanic white birthing people. Other research has shown that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have higher rates of maternal mortality during hospitalization for delivery, even after accounting for other factors that affect outcomes. To address the maternal health crisis in America, Congressional leaders have been fighting for critically important policies like 12-month postpartum

Medicaid coverage, which would ensure moms and have access to the care and support they need and deserved for the full postpartum period. To build on these efforts, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, Congresswoman Alma Adams, Senator Cory Booker, and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus are introducing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus builds on existing legislation to comprehensively address every dimension of the maternal health crisis in America. The Black Maternal Momnibus Act of 2021 is comprised of twelve individual bills sponsored by Black Maternal Health Caucus Members and supported by 250 organizations. They are as follows:

Social Determinants for Moms Act, sponsored by Representative Lucy McBath. Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition.

Kira Johnson Act, Sponsored by Representative Alma S. Adams. Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.

Protecting Moms Who Served Act, sponsored by Representative Lauren Underwood and Senator Tammy Duckworth. Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant and postpartum veterans and support VA maternity care coordination programs. (Passed November 16, 2021.)

Perinatal Workforce Act, sponsored by Representative Gwen Moore and Senator Tammy Baldwin. Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives culturally congruent maternity care and support.

Data to Save Moms Act, sponsored by Representative Sharice Davis and Senator Tina Smith. Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it.

Moms Matter Act, sponsored by Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act, sponsored by Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Cory Booker. Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.

Tech to Save Moms Act, sponsored by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson and Senator Bob Menendez. Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.

IMPACT to Save Moms Act, sponsored by Representative Jan Schakowsky and Senator Bob Casey. Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and non-clinical perinatal support.

Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act, sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Lauren Underwood. Invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy and to advance respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies.

Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act, sponsored by Representative Lauren Underwood and Senator Ed Markey. Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.

Maternal Vaccination Act, sponsored by Representative Terri A. Sewell and Senator Tim Kaine. Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies.

Learn More About the Momnibus Act of 2021

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Healthy Baby Network

Sherita Bullock, Executive Director

The Healthy Baby Network was initially funded in 1996 with a grant from the New York State Department of Health to address Maternal Child Health in Rochester, NY. This year HBN celebrates 26 years of service with a mission to ensure that every parent has information and support needed to bring a healthy baby into a nurturing home. Current barriers include equitable access to medical and social care, knowledge about available resources, and supports to navigate them. These barriers often have multiple layers and compound complications for economically, socially, or medically vulnerable families. The HBN provides 1:1 education, support, and referrals to parents and families by Community Health Workers. The HBN’s Fatherhood Program provides direct services, collaborates with other local

efforts, and provides opportunities for fathers and their children to enjoy educational and recreational activities. In 2022, the HBN is expanding their Doula program to include support prenatally, during childbirth, and across the postpartum period. Additionally, teams will explore strategies to build resilience with parents who experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences. Currently, the Healthy Baby Network is funded by the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Women Infant and Adolescent Health, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System, Inc., and through individual donations.

Dr. Jordana Gilman and Dr. Emily Carrillo at the COB Food Pantry

Food Pantry at Community OBGYN

Dr. Jordana Gilman

This year, OBGYN residents and COB leadership sought to do more to meet the needs of our patients by addressing food insecurity in the community. Rochester's food insecurity rate is 25.9% overall, compared to 10.5% nationally (see diagram). Many of our patients struggle to feed themselves and their families, and this is a huge barrier to meeting their health goals. The COB Food Pantry was born out of a desire to provide patients with a bag or “kit” when they identify an emergency food need at an office visit. The COB Food Pantry is modeled after a similar program at the Strong Internal Medicine primary care office, led by Dr. Melissa Mroz. The food kits contain health-conscious, low-sodium nonperishable items recommended by a URMC dietician. These foods are donated by anyone who works at the clinic and maintained by resident leadership. As the concept of the food pantry was introduced, COB

employees wanted to take it a step further and provide menstrual hygiene products, diapers, and wipes. Others donated their time and energy to sort the items into kits which contained a combination of proteins, grains, vegetables, fruits, and snacks. Kits were designed with different types of patients in mind – a single patient would receive different items in the kit than a patient with four young children at home. Patients with an emergency food need are identified by either filling out a brief agenda setting tool during the rooming portion of their clinic visit, or simply by a direct verbal screen. Patients do not have to prove a need and can access the food pantry as much or as little as they would like. Each time a food kit is handed out, the patient is given the option to speak with social work to develop a long-term plan for food security. Each kit is tallied as a way to track the impact of the food pantry.

Future directions for this project include working with local food banks to arrange a sustainable food supply for the pantry. By providing our patients access to healthy food, we aim to address one of the many barriers to improving health and wellbeing. We hope this approach can be adopted in outpatient practices throughout the region as an effective approach to food insecurity. Clinic employees and providers have been proud to share this project with their patients as a way to demonstrate the COB commitment to the community. For more information or to get involved, email

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Action for a Better Community

The mission of Action for a Better Community is to provide support to families with self-sufficiency being the end-goal. ABC was one of 1000 community-based organizations established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the vision of then President Lyndon B. Johnson and his war on poverty. Since ABC’s inception nearly 60 years ago, the agency has had multiple programmatic highlights. In 2020 alone, ABC has provided families with baby supplies, established Early Head Start/Head Start Preschool programs, conducted

employment training and assisted with job opportunities, provided family support to improve functioning, assisted with home weatherization, energy conservation, and maintenance, and provided substance abuse testing and counseling. ABC has also addressed food and technology insecurity, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have provided PPE and telehealth services.

Common Ground Health Logo

Common Ground Health

Mr. Wade S. Norwood, CEO

Formerly, the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, Common Ground Health seeks to collaborate with healthcare institutions, insurance organizations, universities, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and residents. Their mission statement is as follows: 


Through regional collaboration and partnerships, we bring greater focus to community health issues via data analysis, resident engagement, and solution implementation. 

CGH is driven by five core principles:

Involving All Relevant Stakeholders

Involving all relevant stakeholders at the community table to develop solutions to achieve success

Leveraging Expertise

Leveraging expertise for innovative, transformative solutions


Producing data-driven, measurable results, such as the 2020 Monroe County Health Profile, and reports regarding the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects of systemic racism on early mortality

Defining Success Collaboratively

Defining success collaboratively by seeking solutions from stakeholders in an unbiased, non-prescriptive manner

Offering Effective Mechanisms

Offering effective mechanisms for competitors to work with us to develop the best possible solutions

Learn More About Common Ground Health

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HealthConnect One

Dr. Twylla Dillion, Executive Director Tamela Milan-Alexander, Executive Director

Since its inception, HealthConnect One (HC One) has operated with the awareness that birth equity is fundamental to racial equity. Together with community-based organizations, HC One has developed and provided customized programs, training and ongoing technical assistance to community-based doulas and breastfeeding peer counselors. Per HealthConnect One’s 2021 Annual Report entitled, “Planting Seeds for Future Generations,” the organization has reflected on 35 years of providing support to mothers, babies, and birthing families. In 2020-21, HC One:

Served as an intermediary for community-based programs through resource mobilization and community organizing,

Was a resource for families during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing virtual training and meetings, and

Trained over 150 community-based doulas and breastfeeding advocates to support mothers, babies, and families.

Nurse in scrubs picks up newborn infant from bassinet next to parents in hospital room

Through the creation of the Birth Equity Action Network, Health Connect One has advocated for pay equity for birth workers, reproductive justice, and thriving sustainable communities for future generations. The Network is comprised of over 260 birth equity advocates, who have authored over 35 letters, statements, and action alerts in support of legislation to advance maternal-child health. For the next 5-10 years, HealthConnect One’s goal is to create a thriving ecosystem for Black, Brown, and Indigenous

communities to take the lead in work to create a health start for birthing families. HealthConnect One is proud to partner with Finger Lakes Performing Provider System (FLPPS), Healthy Baby Network and Finger Lakes Community Health to develop the local community-based doula workforce, establish effective referral pathways for doula support and promotion of collaborative care teams at URMC and RRH that include culturally reflective doulas for low income birthing people who require additional support.