Western Sky Community Care (Western Sky), a local managed care organization, announced today it is launching its first virtual network of doulas to provide maternal healthcare to eligible Western Sky Medicaid members across New Mexico. Western Sky is launching the program as the United States continues to face a maternal health crisis – particularly among women of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. maternal mortality rate for Black and Hispanic women increased to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020 from 20.1 in 2019.
Doulas are professional labor assistants who provide education as well as physical and emotional support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. The Western Sky doula network will provide members with 24/7, video-enabled doula support offered through Pacify, a leading provider of virtual value-based maternal healthcare. Doulas will answer members’ questions, help develop a birth plan, prepare the birth partner, and provide other non-clinical perinatal care. This virtual network expands on Western Sky’s current Pacify services, which have provided 24/7 lactation support and infant feeding help to Medicaid members since 2019.
“Western Sky is launching this new program with Pacify to help our Medicaid members access the care and support they need to have healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries,” said Dr. Susan Lewis, Western Sky Community Care Medical Director, “By offering our members doula services – day or night – we aim to improve access, remove barriers to care, and eliminate health disparities during pregnancy in an effort to improve maternal health outcomes across New Mexico.”
Western Sky and Pacify are also funding $3,000 worth of scholarships to people of color interested in becoming lactation consultants. The scholarship will be awarded to three Western Sky Medicaid members who are interested in developing a career in the field of lactation. Each winner will receive $1,000 to cover the cost of expenses, including the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) exam fee.
“We are proud to partner with Western Sky on both this innovative doula network and corresponding scholarship program, which will help expand the field of lactation consulting to people of color,” said Melanie Silverman, MS, RD, IBCLC, Chief Clinical Officer of Pacify. “Together, our goal is to improve diversity in the lactation profession and provide more breastfeeding parents across New Mexico with culturally sensitive care.”
Western Sky members interested in applying for the scholarship must fill out this form by March 31, 2023. Applications will be reviewed, and finalists will be interviewed by April 21, 2023. Pacify and Western Sky will announce winners and award the scholarship by May 1, 2023 before they apply in December to take the IBCLC exam in Fall, 2023. Winners will also receive mentorship from people of color who are IBCLCs on the Pacify network.
Pacify is the leading health technology company that provides 24/7 clinical and social support to new and expecting parents. Pacify’s network of 100+ lactation consultants, clinicians and registered nurses have helped more than 100,000 families, reducing costs and improving outcomes in partnership with managed care organizations, health systems, non-profit organizations and employers across the country.