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Family of Black Woman Who Died During Childbirth Wants State Of California To Investigate

According to the Journal of American Medical Association, Black mothers’ maternal mortality rates are three times higher than their white counterparts. Even a Kaiser Family Foundation study revealed that even adjusting factors for deaths during childbirth among Black women, they are more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.

California maternal deaths are amongst the lowest in the country but are up to 3.6 higher for Black women. Reasons include systemic racism and provider bias. This year, there hasn’t been a more heartbreaking example than the death of 31-year-old April Valentine at Inglewood-based Centinela Hospital. Now, the family wants to investigate how she died and whether systemic or interpersonal racism could have played a role.

Valentine’s official cause of death was a preventable blood clot that formed in her leg and traveled to her lung. California’s Department of Health issued a $75,000 fine to Centinela Hospital for risking the health and safety of Valentine.

According to KFF Health News, an analysis showed that state authorities are ill-equipped to investigate discrimination complaints and often avoid finding hospitals that violate regulators. Meanwhile, majority of Centinela Hospital staff who treated Valentine were Black.

“I think she would have been treated differently if she was white,” said Valentine’s cousin Mykesha Mack, who filed a complaint.

Last month, Centinela announced it would close its maternity services on Oct. 25. This leaves much of South Los Angeles, Inglewood residences without a nearby emergency hospital. The death of Valentine is similar to a civil rights lawsuit in 2021 against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center over 39-year-old Kira Dixon Johnson who died during childbirth in 2016.



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