Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Rekha Daniel-Kimani

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Rekha Daniel-Kimani

Rekha Daniel-Kimani heads Total Rewards, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Strategic Human Resources Growth of BAYADA Home Health Care. Daniel-Kimani joined BAYADA in 2017 as director of benefits and compensation, and then in January 2022, Daniel-Kimani became head of total rewards, DEI, and HR strategy to ensure employees are effectively compensated and recognized and to help both current and prospective employees find their unique connection to BAYADA’s mission and values.

Daniel-Kimani is a certified diversity executive with professional certificates in compensation, benefits, human resources, and global remuneration. She earned her bachelor’s degree in commerce from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Rekha Daniel-Kimani is an important leader in nursing diversity, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.


Meet Rekha Daniel-Kimani, the head of Total Rewards, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Strategic Human Resources Growth of BAYADA Home Health Care.

Talk about your role at BAYADA Home Health Care.

My role at BAYADA is head of total rewards, diversity, equity and inclusion, and strategic human resources growth. While the title is long, the purpose is simple: I care for our greatest asset—our talent. I help make sure our clinicians and caretakers who care for millions of clients worldwide feel that they are personally connected to our mission and values, that they experience a sense of inclusion and belonging, and that they are compensated fairly.

How long have you worked in this field?

I have worked in various HR roles for more than 23 years and have spent six years in healthcare.

How do you support nurses in your role?

Without our clinicians and caregivers, we wouldn’t be able to execute our mission—to help people have a safe home life with comfort, independence, and dignity. They are our largest employee population at BAYADA. I make sure to have a pulse on what they are looking for from a rewards perspective. Expectations have changed with the staffing shortages facing the industry and COVID. I want to understand the needs of different nursing populations and bring a well-rounded global perspective to meeting the needs of our nurses and caregivers.

Why did you choose this field? 

I’m privileged to have fallen into the home health care industry. I love this industry, and I love what I do. When I began to learn more about BAYADA, I discovered a personal connection: my family had utilized BAYADA to care for my niece. Over the last six years, I’ve had the opportunity to showcase the vital work BAYADA does. I’m continually floored by our nurses and caregivers and their incredible impact on our clients and their families. I cannot imagine doing anything else.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

The core values of The BAYADA way—compassion, excellence, and reliability—embody the most essential attributes of today’s nursing leaders. Every home health nurse is a leader each time they walk through the door of a client’s home. They handle the entire client experience, from making the family feel at ease to caring for the client to mapping out a care plan. They are constantly challenged with innovating and responding to the demands of a given moment. That is leadership.

What does being a healthcare leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a healthcare leader means listening closely to understand the intricacies of a challenge, thinking up out-of-the-box solutions, and asking for the expert advice of colleagues. At BAYADA, we don’t hesitate to ask for help or seek opportunities to improve.

I am most proud of our continued progression around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at BAYADA. It’s authentic and grassroots; it’s woven into the experiences of our employees, who play a crucial role in shaping our DEIB program. We regularly solicit employee feedback and act on it. One example is infusing DEIB education into our “White Shoes, White Cap” program. This one-day symposium brings together caregivers and clinicians within a region to network, share best practices, and support one another.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I started my career as an HR intern and have worked my way across and up the career ladder in pharmaceuticals, energy, consumer goods, financial services, and higher education. My experience in pharmaceuticals gave me my first look into health care and how it touches our lives in many ways. Over the last six years at BAYADA, I have fallen in love with home health care. I see daily how our nurses positively affect the lives of others. It’s a privilege to support them.

What is the most significant challenge facing nurses today?

As a human resources professional supporting nurses, the most significant challenge I see our caregivers face is finding a balance between their personal lives and a job they love that demands their all. In addition, we’re experiencing an ongoing and significant nursing shortage.

As a leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

It’s critical to model the behavior you want to see in your employees. You must continuously listen and improve as needs and expectations evolve over time and across nursing and client populations. We must look strategically at the root causes of the nursing shortage and start solving it holistically.

What healthcare leader inspires you the most and why?

I am inspired by the many heroes here at BAYADA who serve our clients daily with compassion, excellence, and reliability. Their dedication to improving our clients’ lives is fuel for me to show up and do my best to make them feel cared for and supported.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Thank you for following your passion and heart. I understand you may not always be shown the appreciation you deserve, but I hope you know how valued you are—your impact is profound. Your kindness, the extra moment you take to laugh and smile with your patients, has a positive effect that cannot be quantified. While you may feel unsure, you are building an enduring legacy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Give a moment to thank a nurse—tell them they are appreciated!

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shauna Johnson

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shauna Johnson

Shauna Johnson is a registered nurse at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) in Annapolis, Maryland, and exemplifies the meaning of resilience.

She worked as a tech for LHAAMC more than ten years ago, but then life got in the way. After her mom died of breast cancer, she had to take care of her two brothers (who were 7 and 13 at the time). Eventually, Johnson went to nursing school and got her degree in May 2022. During her last semester, she gave birth and got COVID. At nursing school, Johnson fell in love with working with geriatric patients; now, she works in Luminis Health’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit.

Someone at school believed in Johnson so much that they privately funded her education.

She credits Christine Frost, the chief nursing officer at Luminis Health, for being a significant influence in her life. When Johnson first worked at LHAAMC 11 years ago, Frost was her supervisor, providing Johnson with guidance and mentorship.

Shauna Johnson is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.


Meet Shauna Johnson, a Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) registered nurse.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As a registered nurse at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, I provide optimal care to patients and the community. I love advocating for patients and helping them feel comfortable with their care. As a nurse, I am responsible for assessing, observing, and communicating well with patients. I collaborate with a team of medical professionals to ensure every patient receives the care they deserve.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

I have worked in the nursing field for 15 years. I started as a patient care technician for 14 years and then earned my BSN and RN.

Why did you become a nurse? 

My inspiration to become a nurse started with a nurse who cared for my mom during her last hours of life. It was such a difficult time in my life that I can’t remember much except for this nurse who had so much compassion, love, and dedication. It showed in everything that he did. When I was only 19, I knew I wanted to be the same for others. I made it my mission to be a great nurse to patients, families, and the community.

What sparked your love for working with geriatric patients?

My love for geriatric patients came from my first job in the nursing field as a geriatric nursing assistant. From then on, I respected geriatric patients more and more. Geriatric patients demonstrate incredible strength on a daily basis. Despite a complex medical history, they never give up. Their will and determination to thrive in life are inspiring, and as a nurse, I want to assist in making life worth every moment.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders?

Flexibility, love, passion, dedication, and resilience.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

It means being a role model to other nurses and the community, even when off-duty. Despite my challenges, I am proud that I pushed through and achieved my goal of becoming a nurse. I demonstrate my passion for nursing every single day.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

My first year in nursing was as a nursing assistant in a rehabilitation facility. After that, I worked as a patient care technician (PCT) in the Medical Surgical Unit for ten years. Then, I shifted from working with just adults to the Mother/Baby unit as a PCT, where I remained throughout nursing school. After graduating with my BSN, I wanted to work with adults again, specifically geriatric patients. I never gave up and never wanted to be a PCT forever. I kept pushing myself to grow and achieve my goals.

I chose to work at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LHAAMC) because it is home. Everyone is supportive, loving and caring. The care that Luminis Health provides to the community is outstanding, and this team of caregivers truly exemplifies our mission of enhancing the health of the people and communities we serve.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The most significant challenge in nursing today is maintaining a healthy work environment. Focusing on mental health and preventing nurse burnout is essential. Our country experienced a historic pandemic, and healthcare workers are still experiencing the residual effects of COVID and how it impacted nursing care. As nurses, we must take care of ourselves to ensure that we can provide optimal care to others.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Mindfulness is key! That means being mindful, recognizing the importance of self-care, and creating a work environment where others can open up about hardships and mental health issues.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

My former Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Christine Frost, was my supervisor for seven years and a source of inspiration for 14 years. I watched her ascend to her new role as CNO at LHAAMC and remain passionate about nursing and its core values.


Shauna Johnson with the nursing leader that inspires her the most – Christine Frost, the chief nursing officer at Luminis Health

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

The next generation of nurses should focus on showing passion and empathy rather than mastering every skill. Creating a safe environment for patients to open up and communicate with you about their health gives you so much knowledge on helping to develop the best treatment plan. Listen and assess!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Nursing is not just a career but a lifestyle. I am constantly thinking and performing as a nurse. There are many avenues in nursing and plenty of room for everyone with a heart. Nursing ROCKS!

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shelise Valentine

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Shelise Valentine

Shelise Valentine, RNC, MSN, C-EFM, CPPS, CPHRM, is the Director of Clinical Education, Healthcare Risk Advisors, part of TDC Group and chairs nursing, co-chairs obstetric and simulation initiatives, and directs risk management and obstetric education for insured hospital clients to improve patient safety and reduce malpractice risk.

Valentine lectures about patient safety, obstetrical safety, and risk management initiatives. She’s active in various organizations, including the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Better Maternal Outcomes Rapid Improvement Network, and MomsRising. Recently, she presented “Shouldering the Responsibility: Implementation of a Collaborative Shoulder Dystocia Initiative” with her colleagues at the 2022 ASHRM Annual

Shelise Valentine is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

Meet Shelise Valentine, the Director of Clinical Education at Healthcare Risk Advisors.

Talk about your role in nursing.

I am the Director of Clinical Education at Healthcare Risk Advisors, part of TDC Group. In this role, I chair OB nursing initiatives, co-chair obstetric and simulation initiatives, and direct risk management and obstetric education for insured hospital clients to improve patient safety and reduce malpractice risk.

How long have you worked in the nursing field? 

I have been a nurse for 26 years.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I wanted to support women as they brought life into the world. My passion was to become a Certified Nurse Midwife and deliver babies.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Dynamism, cultural competence, and excellence are among the top attributes of today’s nursing leaders. Nursing is dynamic as patients, acuity, staffing, and medical best practices constantly change. Nurse leaders need to enact new paths for patient safety and the growth of the nurses they lead and not solely react in the moment that a situation occurs. Cultural competence enables nurse leaders to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse patient and nursing population with compassion and respect. Excellence in knowledge, communication, quality, and safety—no matter the realm, the focus should be excellence. This will serve as a model for the nurses you lead, and they will also expect excellence in the quality of care they deliver.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nursing leader means ensuring that the nurses I lead understand and are prepared to be the last defense between harm and the patient. When that new graduate nurse or nurse with 25 years of experience encounters something difficult, personally or technically, they have the tools to address and overcome it and provide the best nursing care to the patient in need.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I knew that I needed a strong nursing background if I was going to manage patients independently, so I decided to work for two years in critical care before going to the L&D Nurse Manager every week and asking her if I had enough experience yet to be hired as an L&D nurse. And finally, one day, she said I did!

This was at a Level 4 acute care hospital, and I was exposed to many complicated, high-risk patients and pregnancies. I became a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP), but through this exposure, I realized it was the high-risk, high-adrenaline environment of the hospital, the labor and delivery suite, and the OR that I wanted to make an impact.

I continued my work as an L&D nurse and taught at an accelerated BSN program. I was recruited to become an assistant nurse manager and hospital-wide nurse education manager. I was comfortable and confident in communicating with physicians and had opportunities to improve patient care, so I was asked to be the Patient Safety Officer in Obstetrics. In this role, I was half of the MD/RN dyad, working with the Medical Director of OB, and I provided the following:

  • Real-time support for nurses and physicians on L&D.
  • Advising on policy formation.
  • Reviews of root cause analysis.
  • The inception of best practices.

The affiliated malpractice insurance carrier asked me to join as Director of Nursing to reduce risk, and today, I am the Director of Clinical Education for physicians and nurses for our hospital clients.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

Staffing. Short staffing affects the ability to provide the best care imaginable and deters current nurses from remaining staff nurses in the hospital setting and new nurses from entering the field. Many nursing schools have waiting lists to attend. Still, unfortunately, our national nursing shortage has not improved because nurses start, but their reality may need to mesh with what they envisioned the nurse role to be. The many comorbidities patients now have, lack of ancillary support, and more attractive opportunities in advanced practice are significant challenges facing nursing today.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

I am passionate about nursing and nursing education, and I convey that passion, excitement, and the possibilities to the nurses I interact with. I work to make nursing care in the hospital safer, more efficient, and lower risk by improving policies, workflow, and documentation practices. I also coach team communication, which has been shown to affect patient outcomes and nurse/physician satisfaction.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Every nurse who showed up to the hospital and provided patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic is an inspiring nurse leader to me. Sacrificing their health for the greater good of their patients, unit, and team will inspire everyone from today’s new student nurse to those at the highest level of nursing leadership for years to come.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?      

Be the change that you wish to see; if there are disparities in care—based on gender, age, ethnicity, etc.—speak up and work to implement changes that recognize and decrease these disparities.

Delve Into Diversity at VA with Their Practitioners in Puerto Rico

Delve Into Diversity at VA with Their Practitioners in Puerto Rico

In describing the diversity of VA’s facilities in Puerto Rico, Jorge Santiago, a whole health coach at the San Juan VA Medical Center, explains, “We have a Latino community, we have a Black community that works here, [and] we have a community of age 50-plus workers that need to feel their rights are being considered.”

At VA, they treat all employees, Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors with dignity, integrity, and respect to foster a culture of inclusion, but seeing someone who looks like them goes a long way in bridging the gap.

You’ll see a cross-section of their diverse Veteran population (and workforce) at VA facilities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. At rural facilities like these throughout the country, teams are ready to meet Veterans wherever they live, offering unrivaled care and compassion to those who have served.

The VA supports Veterans and the workforce by embracing a commitment to taking the steps necessary to foster an environment where inclusivity and equity are woven into the fabric of our teams.

Learn about VA’s commitment to diversity at VA Careers.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Stacey Garnett

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Stacey Garnett

Stacey Garnett, MSN, RN, PMH-BC, NEA-BC, FACHE, is the vice president and chief nursing officer at Sheppard Pratt, the nation’s largest private, nonprofit provider of mental health services. In the fast-paced and ever-evolving behavioral healthcare field, nursing leaders are crucial in ensuring efficient operations, a supportive work environment for nurses, and providing quality patient care.

Among these dedicated professionals, Garnett stands out as an exceptional leader whose unwavering commitment to serving people in crisis has made a significant impact on the nursing community. As the demand for behavioral healthcare services increases and burnout and staffing shortages weigh on nurses, she serves as a staunch advocate for patients and nurses alike—she recently received the Maryland Hospital Association’s Advocacy Champion Award for her role in helping to pass SB 960/HB 611, a bill that ensures adequate hospital staffing in Maryland.

As a minority leader with more than 30 years of experience in nursing and nursing administration, Garnett continues to lead and inspire future generations of gifted nurses. Her commitments to nurturing talent and diversifying her industry have not only enhanced the capabilities of individual nurses but have also contributed to the overall strength and competence of behavioral health nurse practitioners throughout the state of Maryland and beyond.

Stacey Garnett is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2023.

The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.


Meet Stacey Garnett, vice president and chief nursing officer at Sheppard Pratt.

Empowering Growth

Garnett recognizes the importance of continuous professional growth and exhibits this in her commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation of skilled nurses. In addition to leading Sheppard Pratt’s nursing team, she also serves as an educator and mentor. Garnett consistently enables her staff, students, and mentees to use educational and professional development opportunities to foster their growth and advancement.

As a leader who has overcome challenges, Garnett recalls being the only African-American student in her undergraduate nursing program. She now serves as a fierce proponent for diversity in the nursing field, creating opportunities for Sheppard Pratt to partner with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). She hopes that others will see representation in the field and continue to seek advancement opportunities.

Garnett’s success and dedication to excellence inspire her staff, students, and mentees. She understands that high-quality care begins with a personal commitment to perseverance in adversity. In 2019, she mentored a student struggling to pass her exam to become an LPN. After working with Garnett to master the material and conquer her testing anxiety, she passed the test and currently works as an LPN in hospice. Garnett’s tenacity and zeal energize her followers to achieve incredible feats.

Championing Patient-Centered Care

At the core of Garnett’s success throughout her 30-year career is a deeply rooted dedication to patient-centered care. As a motivated and passionate leader, she challenges and inspires her staff to prioritize each patient’s care, dignity, and progress during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives. She emphasizes the importance of building meaningful connections with patients, their families, and their communities. By actively listening to feedback, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and prioritizing patient satisfaction initiatives, she establishes and maintains a patient-first mindset within Sheppard Pratt’s nursing staff. This holistic approach to patient care makes Sheppard Pratt a distinguished leader in behavioral healthcare and a place where patients can expect to be treated with the utmost care and respect.

Driving Excellence

As a transformational leader with a proven track record of generating and building relationships, managing nursing hospital operations, engaging and collaborating with physicians, and maintaining successful regulatory reviews, Garnett maintains a strong focus on delivering exceptional care. By setting these high standards, she has cultivated an environment encouraging continuous improvement and professional development among Sheppard Pratt’s nursing staff.

Garnett played a fundamental role in the launch of Sheppard Pratt’s new Baltimore/Washington Campus hospital in June 2021. Her colleagues have heralded her ability to think strategically as she responded to issues immediately and directly to open the new hospital to the public in June 2021. Her tenacity and innovation during the inception of the new campus, which offers five inpatient units, day hospital programs, and a Psychiatric Urgent Care, both set and maintained a precedent for a high standard of care across the hospital’s operations.

Collaboration and Communication

Effective communication and collaboration are vital in any healthcare setting, but these factors are critical in behavioral healthcare. Garnett truly has a heart for the patient, frequently interacting with them directly on units. She understands and appreciates that everyone has a journey and a story—by actively listening to the people she serves, she gains insight and perspective into the lives of others to help them overcome life’s most difficult challenges. When patients feel their voices are heard, they feel empowered to share their stories—these stories can reveal crucial information about a patient’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Garnett fosters a culture of open dialogue and teamwork, where patients, their families, and staff value her as someone with whom they can discuss difficult issues openly, honestly, and without judgment. She actively encourages nurses to voice their ideas, concerns, and suggestions, ensuring that all perspectives are valued and considered. By promoting transparency and maintaining strong lines of communication, Garnett has facilitated a collaborative environment that empowers nurses to work together, resulting in streamlined processes and improved patient care.

Garnett is a beacon of hope for a nation desperately needing passionate and skilled behavioral health nurse practitioners. Her leadership inspires current and future nurses to provide patients with the high-quality care they need and deserve.

Why We Need to Talk About Racial Disparities In Fertility Care

Why We Need to Talk About Racial Disparities In Fertility Care

Black women are almost twice as likely to experience infertility as their white counterparts, but only 8% of Black women seek fertility treatment, compared to 15% of white women. Statistics like these, compounded by the fact that Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, highlight inequalities in reproductive healthcare that the medical community must address.

The higher incidence of infertility among Black women is due in part to a higher prevalence of uterine fibroids, ovulatory dysfunction, and tubal disease. Studies show that Black women also have higher rates of pregnancy loss, including miscarriages and stillbirths when compared to white women. This is likely because Black women have higher rates of risk factors that are associated with pregnancy loss, such as obesity, diabetes, and low socioeconomic status.

For Black women, the isolation of infertility is compounded by various factors (for example, cultural stigma, socioeconomic barriers, and racial bias) that prevent them from getting the care they need. Those who do end up seeking care often find themselves feeling deeply uncomfortable in the medical space, which is still predominantly white.

Diversity in Healthcare Providers

People of color need to have access to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) healthcare providers because it provides a sense of comfort and familiarity. This can encourage patients to access available fertility care and can even improve treatment outcomes. BIPOC healthcare providers possess culturally specific knowledge, skills, and experiences that help with communication and health management processes involving people of color.

Diversity in providers also helps reduce barriers to the patient-physician relationship for racial/ethnic and linguistic minority patients. In many situations, seeing someone who looks like you and understands your cultural background offers reassurance.

Many studies have demonstrated better health outcomes when BIPOC providers see patients of color. A result of this is increased trust and communication developed between the patient and provider. The patient may feel more comfortable sharing sensitive information with someone who has an unspoken understanding of what the patient might be going through. Research has shown that Black women who have a provider with a similar cultural history may feel more comfortable speaking up and advocating for themselves.

Many people of color have a (warranted) sense of mistrust when it comes to our healthcare system due to historical practices based on racist ideals. As healthcare providers, we must remain dedicated to bridging the gap to improve outcomes for patients of color.

What Factors Most Impact Black Patients?

Long-held beliefs, stereotypes, cultural stigma, and other issues continue to uphold these racial disparities around fertility and family-building. Here are some examples of the various factors that contribute to widening the gap in care for Black women:

  • Structural racism: This heavily contributes to racial disparities in fertility and maternal healthcare in various ways, as structural racism goes beyond the individual. It refers to inherently racist laws, rules, economic practices, and cultural and societal norms that are embedded in the system itself.
  • Implicit or unconscious bias: This occurs automatically and unintentionally, affecting our judgments, decisions, and behaviors. For example, a white doctor might downplay complaints of pain after surgery from a patient of color due to engrained, inaccurate stereotypes about the strength or pain tolerance of BIPOC people, only to discover the patient is genuinely experiencing discomfort.
  • Accessibility: Many people of color encounter barriers to accessing the healthcare they need due to a lack of insurance or insurance coverage that excludes fertility treatment. Financial roadblocks and accessibility to quality reproductive care are often limited by location (rural or underserved areas may not have fertility clinics nearby) and employment (not everyone can take time off of work to go in for morning monitoring appointments, which are often required during fertility treatment).
  • The myth of hyperfertility: The long-held myth that Black women (and men) are “hyper-fertile” causes considerable harm, leading to a resulting cascade of issues.
  • Religious beliefs: Many people in the Black community are taught to “pray your way” through difficult situations. And while it’s wonderful to have faith, sometimes it’s necessary to seek professional help. Trusting that a higher power will correct infertility leads some people to delay or avoid treatment altogether.
  • Harmful stereotypes: Black women are thought of as being incredibly strong and we are but when we are elevated to “Superwoman” status and need to take off our proverbial capes to ask for help, we are often judged harshly or perceived as weak.
  • Mental health: Shame, guilt, or anxiety about how people in our community may react prevents or delays many women of color from seeking infertility treatment. The stigma of mental illness is also a concern when addressing infertility. Many people coping with infertility experience depression, anxiety, and grief, and cultural norms can discourage people from sharing that they are struggling with their mental health.
  • Isolation: Many people hesitate to talk about their personal experiences with infertility, which often leaves Black women with the impression that they are alone in their struggles or that infertility is a reflection of their character or a personal failing. That’s why sharing fertility stories is so important, especially in communities of color.

Black Maternal Mortality Rates

Many women of color might lack insurance coverage for maternal health or be afraid to advocate for themselves with their doctor. But the starkest evidence of the healthcare system failing people of color is Black maternal mortality rates in the United States, which are alarmingly high.

Studies have shown that Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Worse yet, even though multiple factors contribute to this disparity, most are preventable. These factors include access to quality healthcare, underlying chronic illnesses, and two of the most easily preventable: implicit bias and structural racism. As a healthcare system, we need to focus on listening to the concerns of patients of color without allowing unconscious bias to play a role in our treatment decisions.

Responsibility to Patients

In vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatment options can be very expensive, which makes it exponentially more challenging for individuals with lower median household incomes to afford this path to parenthood. With lower incomes in comparison to white and Asian couples, Black and Hispanic couples may have a hard time affording fertility care if they have to pay out-of-pocket.

Knocking down the roadblock of affordability often goes beyond the scope of the medical community’s responsibility. However, bridging the gap of distrust with people of color and providing culturally competent care does not. One important step hospitals and health systems can take is to increase the diversity of providers within reproductive health specialties. Collectively, we must work to dismantle structural racism, educate ourselves, and listen to people of color. Only then will we start to make progress toward lessening racial disparities in fertility and maternal healthcare.