D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative brings high-risk obstetrics services to birthing individuals in Ward 8
MedStar Health and Community of Hope partner to provide access to specialty maternal health care for families living in the District’s most under-resourced neighborhoods.
WASHINGTON, February 22, 2022 – MedStar Health and Community of Hope announce a new partnership to address inequities in maternal and child health in Ward 8. Melissa H. Fries, MD, a high-risk obstetrics specialist, will begin seeing patients who have complicated or high-risk pregnancies at Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center in Ward 8’s Bellevue community beginning February 22, 2022. Dr. Fries will be the only high-risk obstetrics specialist in the District in Ward 8.
High-risk obstetric specialists care for birthing individuals whose road to parenthood has been difficult or uncertain due to underlying health conditions, risk factors, or complications with the pregnancy. MedStar Health’s Dr. Fries will see up to 15 patients a day, four days a month at the Community of Hope health center in Ward 8, and will consult with Community of Hope physicians on emerging risk patients. Additionally, MedStar has provided a full-service sonography machine for this location and provided hand-held sonography machines for Community of Hope’s three health centers.
Reducing physical barriers to quality healthcare, particularly for birthing individuals with the highest risk, is one way the D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative seeks to improve health outcomes for parents and babies who live in communities that are historically under-resourced in the District.
“Families living east of the river have had to navigate long transportation and inaccessible healthcare for too long,” says Ebony Marcelle, Director of Midwifery, Community of Hope. “This partnership brings the specialists directly to their community. Removing barriers will improve health for parents and their babies and will build trust in a healthcare system that is putting their needs first.”
Made possible by an investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms brings together MedStar Health, the area’s largest healthcare provider, and trusted community-based organizations Community of Hope and Mamatoto Village, to create positive and most importantly, sustainable change in maternal and infant health. This collaboration is fulfilling an essential need to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in the nation’s capital, an area that currently ranks among the worst in the United States.
Description automatically generated “To really move the needle on maternal outcomes, we need to address the clinical, environmental, social, and health system risk factors pregnant families face,” says Angela D. Thomas, DrPH, vice president, healthcare delivery research, MedStar Health Research Institute, and executive lead for D.C. Safe Babies Safe Moms. “This collaboration with Community of Hope helps us reach some of the most vulnerable families where they live and work.”
Since its founding in 1987, the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation has supported hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the D.C. area. The Foundation’s Parent-Child Health Initiative supports improved outcomes for families with a focus on building infrastructure that will serve generations to come.
"Increased access to quality care in a maternal health desert is just one of many advancements to come from the successful partnership of a large health system and a federally qualified health center,” says Ryan Palmer, Director of DC Community Initiatives at the Clark Foundation. “We are thrilled to support MedStar Health and Community of Hope in their work to create a healthy, thriving future for all DC families and children.”
About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.
About Community of Hope
Founded in 1980, Community of Hope is a rapidly growing, innovative, and mission-driven nonprofit. Our team of over 350 caring, dedicated staff members provides housing, healthcare, and supportive services for low-income families in Washington, DC. We work to improve health access and equity in Washington, DC. We operate three community health centers, offering medical, dental, and emotional wellness as well as extensive patient supportive services which reached over 13,000 people in 2021. We also work to end and prevent family homelessness in Washington, DC and are the only nonprofit in DC providing all services along the homelessness continuum, having impacted 1,244 families in 2021.
About the Clark Foundation
The A. James & Alice. B Clark Foundation partners with grantees who build practical, immediate, and concrete connections between effort and opportunity, and focuses its investments in the following areas: educating engineers to solve society’s toughest problems, improving the lives of veterans and their families, and providing members of the DC community the best opportunity to thrive.