Alex Gonzalez, Producer
Thursday, November 2, 2023
A new report ranked Nevada 40th in the nation for the overall health and well-being of women of reproductive age and children.
Like all states, Nevada has certain strengths but also faces its own set of unique challenges. According to the analysis by the United Health Foundation, maternal mortality rates more than doubled for the Silver State from 2014-2018 and 2017-2021.
Vickie Ives, bureau chief of child and family community wellness for the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said her division aims to “actively identify and address challenges and barriers” affecting women and children, noting one way of accomplishing their goal is by assessing needs.
“Like the Maternal and Child Health Needs Assessment, which is a broad based survey to really get a sense of what others, in addition to division staff, are seeing from the data, but from other partners throughout the state,” Ives explained. “That develops recommendations.”
Ives pointed out the COVID-19 pandemic had significant effects on children’s mental well-being. Because of public health restrictions, access for both children and women became very limited. It meant her division had to come up with new models to get Nevadans the care and services they needed. Assistance information is available at the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services website.
Dr. Lisa Saul, national medical director of maternal child health for UnitedHealthcare, said maternal mortality rates have increased 29% nationally. Saul reported maternal morbidity rates, often “a precursor to mortality,” have also increased significantly and are identified by conditions such as having had a blood transfusion, an Intensive Care Unit admission or experiencing renal or heart failure. She called access to obstetric care and hospitals “an issue for the country.”
“We know about maternity care deserts where sometimes women might have to travel for two hours to not only see their physician or their OB provider, but also to give birth,” Saul observed.
Saul hopes the report can serve as a tool to think about ways in which women can be better supported and improve their access to care. She said better educating birthing mothers and medical providers go hand-in-hand.
There were some bright spots in the report. Teen pregnancy rates and the use of vape products continues to decline.
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