Higher-quality maternity healthcare begins with hiring diverse staff, Lancaster doctor says

LANCASTER, S.C. — Reducing racial disparities is a key part of providing higher-quality maternity healthcare for all mothers, and it’s one of the reasons MUSC Lancaster Medical Center was recently recognized as a “Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care.”

South Carolina received an F grade in the 2023 report card issued by March of Dimes, a non-profit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies in the United States.

For Black mothers and infants, the ranking is even worse. In the state’s 2023 report, The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control found that Black mothers experienced a 67 percent higher pregnancy-related mortality ratio than White mothers and Black infants died at a rate nearly 2.5 times that of White infants.

MUSC Lancaster received the distinction from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina for actively working to reduce racial disparities and improve maternal health outcomes.

For Dr. Xaviera Carter, chief doctor of the OB/GYN department of the regional MUSC division, the hospital’s commitment toward equity is one of the reasons she’s proud to work there.

“We serve a large patient population of people of color. So we make sure that we listen to them, we understand their cultural differences,” Dr. Carter explained. “As a woman of color myself, that’s very important to me. I understand the risk that’s associated with delivering in this day and age in the United States.”

She says the hospital is very intentional about a diverse recruiting effort, ensuring the staff reflects the diversity of the patients that they serve.

“We know when patients have persons that are taking care of them that look like them, the care is actually better,” she told Channel 9.

Kaitlin Allen gave birth to a baby girl in October through a cesarean section delivery. She says the nurses went beyond their obligations to keep Kaitlin and her newborn, Ivy, safe and comfortable.

“The nurse that I had that day, she was with me all day long. She waited until I got out of my C-section even after her day of work was over,” Allen said. “It’s personal. You don’t feel like ‘I’m just another person giving birth today.’ Like I actually feel like a human.”

The level of care at MUSC Lancaster for mothers of all walks of life is why the hospital earned the distinction, and it’s the reason Allen would deliver there again.

“It is nice to feel like I made a good decision. My first decision as a mother was a good one,” Allen said when asked about the Blue Cross Blue Shield distinction, which came three months after she gave birth.

Only 22 hospitals in the Palmetto State are distinguished by the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program.

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Cassia Sari, wsoctv.com

Cassia is a content center producer for Channel 9.

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