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Delco Garners Nearly $1M in Federal Funds for Maternal Health

From a press release

Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor Ph.D., Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer and Delaware County Health Department Director Melissa Lyon participated in a press conference hosted by Sen. Bob Casey and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon on April 25 at the Delaware County Courthouse.

The press conference highlighted substantial funding for the Delaware County Health Department.

Casey and Scanlon, both Democrats, secured $954,000 in community project funding that will allow the Delaware County Health Department (DCHD) to create a new workforce development program to train Perinatal Community Health Care Workers (PCHW) and doulas who can work to reduce racial disparities in maternal health.

The program also aims to reduce racial and economic disparities in maternal care through education, targeted training, and deployment of doulas in communities that have the highest disparities in maternal and child health outcomes. The goal of this program is to ensure that Delaware County women will receive the support they need to assist in healthy pregnancies and deliveries, as well as reduce disparities in maternal and birth outcomes.

Casey and Scanlon fought for this community project funding to improve maternal health outcomes in Southeastern Pennsylvania and bolster the health care workforce.

“When the Delaware County Health Department applied for community project funding, it struck me that infant mortality rates were three times higher for babies born to Black mothers than those born to White mothers here in Delco,” said Casey. “If we are not keeping moms and babies safe, then we are not doing enough to keep our nation safe. By investing in community health workers, this project invests in those who know their community best, making them uniquely suited to provide the proper maternal health care to their neighbors.”

The disparate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color has brought a new focus to health disparities, including the longstanding inequities in maternal and infant health, officials said.

Many low-income families in Delaware County have challenges accessing healthcare and some families struggle because English is not a first language. Those challenges are also compounded by the fact that the Delaware County community recently lost a birthing hospital- Delaware County Memorial Hospital- which serves a large population, many of which are low-income and English is not their first language, officials said.

There is a crisis in Delaware County and throughout the nation regarding maternal and infant mortality. Black and Brown women are three times more likely to die during childbirth compared to White women. And research also shows that Black women are at significantly higher risk for severe maternal morbidity, such as preeclampsia. And Black women have higher rates of admission to the intensive care unit during delivery compared to White women. There are clear racial disparities in maternal and infant health and it’s critical that we work to raise awareness and create change, officials said.

“Every mother in our community deserves to live a happy, healthy life with her baby, but tragically, our country has the worst maternal health outcomes in the developed world, and Black women are three times more likely to die from childbirth than white women, said Scanlon.

“With this new federal funding for additional maternal health care workers and doulas, Delaware County is taking urgently needed action to reverse these alarming trends and protect our mothers and babies. I’m grateful for Sen. Casey and Delaware County’s partnership in advancing evidence-based solutions that will save lives and reduce disparities.”

Members of the newly created Delaware County Maternal Child Health Committee also attended the press conference. In February, county Council and the county Health Department formed the Delaware County Maternal Child Health Committee to address the critical public health issues facing mothers and children in our community. The committee is working to address the disparities in maternal health outcomes in Delaware County.

Subcommittees will be formed in other key areas of concern, including concerns that will be identified by the upcoming Delaware County Needs Assessment.

“The Committee’s expertise and passion surrounding maternal and children’s health can help the county to prevent deaths and also greatly improve the overall health and well-being of women, babies, and children across the county,” said Taylor. “As council and the County Health Department gain valuable information and data, we can utilize the community project funding to work to improve maternal health outcomes in Delaware County. Our goal is that every pregnant woman has a healthy pregnancy and their babies have a healthy start when they are brought into this world.”

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Parties Endorse Delaware County Council Candidates for Primary

Delaware County Democrats and Republicans have endorsed candidates for the upcoming primary on May 16.

The council Democratic committee endorsed incumbents Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D., Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer, and Councilwoman Christine Reuther. The three were first elected in 2019 in a historic Democratic sweep of council seats.

The Republican committee endorsed Joy Schwartz, Jeff Jones, and Upland Borough Mayor Bill Dennon for the county council.

Schwartz, a Drexel Hill resident, is a retired history teacher who worked for more than 20 years in the William Penn School District. She is running against the Democratic council’s policies that she believes have failed local communities.

Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D.

“If elected, I will lead the charge for common sense, fiscal sanity, safe streets, elections conducted in accordance with administrative code, and the reversal of the progressive agendas that are destroying Delco,” said Schwartz.

Jones, of Upper Darby, is an insurance industry professional and has been active in the community as a youth sports coach. He also served on the Upper Darby Economic Development Committee.

“Our current county council is not delivering on the things that are important to the health, safety, and welfare of our neighbors,” said Jones. “They lack transparency, take no administrative responsibility, and have been fiscally irresponsible with our tax dollars. If we do not rein them in now, the course they have the county heading on will lead to a devastating failure.”

Dennon, who has served as Upland’s mayor for five years, is a maintenance mechanic. He is involved in activities recognizing and honoring veterans. He also served as a site coordinator for the Chester-Ridley-Crum Watersheds Association annual stream cleanup.

Christine Reuther

“It is time for a change, and Delaware County cannot afford any more one-party Democratic rule,” said Dennon. “We need to restore accountability, fiscal responsibility, and sound leadership to Delaware County.”

“Under the Democrats’ one-party rule, Delaware County is facing unprecedented challenges: Closed hospitals and a lack of EMS services; a looming county tax increase; a deteriorating county financial position partisanship that prevents equal access to services, and changes to the county administrative code that has shutout Republicans from participating in the oversight of elections,” said Frank Agovino, chair of the Delaware County Republican Party. “We want to ensure our county government operates effectively and fairly while also ensuring a brighter future for all Delaware County residents.”

Taylor is a professor and program director in the kinesiology department at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia. In addition to her teaching, research, and administrative duties, she works on community outreach projects to educate high school students about potential future careers in the healthcare industry. She spearheaded a project in Philadelphia elementary schools to introduce young students to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).

Elaine Schaefer

Taylor, who formerly served on the Upper Darby School Board, lives with her husband and two daughters in Upper Darby.

Schaefer, a lawyer and former Radnor Township commissioner co-founded the Radnor Conservancy. She is the executive director of the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area. Schaefer and her husband, John, are the parents of three children.

Also a lawyer, Reuther is “of counsel” to the Devon law firm McCausland Keen and Buckman. She is vice president of the Child Guidance Resource Centers board, a community mental and behavioral health service provider. She is a former Nether Providence commissioner, serves as the Nether Providence representative on the board of directors of the Central Delaware County Authority, and is the Rutledge Borough solicitor. She lives in Wallingford with her husband. They also raised three children.

The Democrats’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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