ICYMI: Senator Reverend Warnock Visits Gainesville to Discuss Georgia’s Maternal Mortality Crisis, Announce New Investments in Hispanic Small Businesses

Senator Reverend Warnock returned to North Georgia to discuss his legislative efforts to combat the national maternal mortality crisis
At Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville, Senator Reverend Warnock heard from health care providers and everyday Georgians about the state’s maternal health crisis 

A recent study found 89% of maternal deaths in Georgia were preventable

Last month, Senator Reverend Warnock introduced legislation aimed at improving maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women, and bipartisan legislation to address disparities in maternal health outcomes
Senator Warnock also announced a $500,000 grant for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to invest inHispanic small businesses
Senator Warnock to Gainesville Times: “The United States has the dubious distinction of far-outpacing its peers–other wealthy nations–when it comes to maternal deaths. And Georgia is at the top of the heap. That’s bad news and good news: The bad news is we’ve got these deaths, and they were totally preventable. The good news is if we can remain focused, we can do something about it”

Senator Warnock to 11 Alive: “I know that I’m in politics, but honestly I put up with politics so that I can every now and then make a difference for the moms I talked with today”
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Left: Senator Warnock ordered the tres leches at Carniceria Tapatia, a Hispanic-owned small business in Gainesville
Right: Senator Warnock greets a young constituent at NGMC Gainesville

Gainesville, GA — This week, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) returned to North Georgia to hear from health care providers and Georgians at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville about the state’s maternal mortality crisis and why Congress must act to invest in better health care outcomes for women in Georgia and across the country. Senator Warnock also visited Carniceria Tapatia, a family-run Hispanic small business in Gainesville, the heart of one of Georgia’s most vibrant migrant communities.

At NGMC Gainesville, Senator Warnock participated in a roundtable discussion with Carol Burrell, President and CEO Northeast Georgia Health System; Aubrey Williams, Neonatal Community Outreach Coordinator, NGMC; Misty Crosby, Nurse Educator, NICU, NGMC; Laurisa Guerrero, Executive Director, Georgia Council for Recovery; Brittany Smith, Director, NICU, NGHS; and Katelyn, a Georgia mother of three children. At the restaurant and local market Carniceria Tapatia, the Senator announced a new $500,000 grant he secured from the Small Business Administration for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to invest in Hispanic small businesses. The funds will be used for the salaries of business professionals and consultants, office space, and culturally competent resources, software, and education to increase the accessibility and convenience of Hispanic small business owners.

Senator Reverend Warnock has been a steadfast champion of combating maternal mortality, most recently by introducing the Kira Johnson Act to provide funding to community-based organizations leading the charge to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly for Black women, as well as partnering with Senator Capito (R-WV) on bipartisan legislation to address disparities in maternal health outcomes through data collection, analysis, and strategies for prevention. The Senator also partnered with Senator Rubio to pass into law the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act which authorized new grant programs to reduce maternal mortality and improve implicit bias training for providers. Additionally, the Senator continues to be a strong advocate for closing the Medicaid coverage gap in Georgia, so that more than 640,000 Georgians can access affordable health care. Expanding Medicaid would improve the maternal mortality rate, especially for Black women according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families. 

See below coverage of Senator Reverend Warnock’s visit to Gainesville:

Gainesville Times: ‘Criminally high’: Sen. Raphael Warnock visits NGMC to talk maternal mortality rates in Georgia
August 8, 2023

  • A roundtable discussion was held on Tuesday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where Sen. Raphael Warnock talked about maternal mortality with healthcare professionals and members of NGHS leadership.

  • “It’s wonderful to be here and to hear your stories and the work that you’re doing, and the kind of innovation that you’re bringing to this…making sure we have healthy moms and healthy babies,” Warnock said. “Recovery and support for recovering moms is an important part of that larger issue.”
  • Warnock called maternal mortality an “issue he’s been focused on for a long time” and described maternal mortality rates in Georgia as “criminally high,” citing a recent study by Georgia’s Department of Public Health that determined 89% of pregnancy-related deaths in the state between 2018-2020 were “avoidable.” 
  • Warnock, who noted maternal mortality rates are higher among women of color, touted recent legislation he’s introduced called the Kira Johnson Act – which aims to “invest in community-based organizations to support mothers.”

  • “We also know that having good data and following the science is a critical component of this crisis,” he said, adding that last week he partnered with Republican Sen. Shelley Capito of West Virginia to “introduce bipartisan legislation which would continue the federal funding of state-based programs that collect and analyze maternal health data and develop strategies for prevention.”

11 Alive: Georgia Sen. Warnock works to lower state’s maternal mortality rate
August 8, 2023

  • One of those mothers, Katelyn Burton attended the roundtable discussion with her four-month-old, Mykigh Burton. “With addiction, there could have been death, birth defects, withdrawals,” Katelyn said.

  • Katelyn added she could have been just another statistic in the state’s maternal mortality rate, after suffering from addiction for years. She said she became clean in December before giving birth to Mykigh. Katelyn said she’s grateful politicians like Warnock are looking into every facet of why women continue to die during or shortly after pregnancy.
  • “It’s an experience that transcends politics. Regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or whether we live in an urban environment or rural community – we want moms to be safe as they’re bringing a child into this world,” Warnock explained. 

  • The senator just recently introduced the Kira Johnson Act, named after a Black woman with roots in Atlanta, who died in the hospital just 12 hours after delivering her child. The legislation would fund grants to improve maternal health outcomes in Black and underserved communities.
  • The senator added that it’s meeting people like Mykigh and his mom that push him to cross party lines to ensure other moms don’t become another statistic.

  • “I know that I’m in politics, but honestly I put up with politics so that I can every now and then make a difference for the moms I talked with today,” Warnock said.

Now Habersham: Sen. Warnock visits NGMC Gainesville to discuss maternal health
August 9, 2023

  • Georgia has one of the country’s highest maternal mortality rates. On August 8, Sen. Raphael Warnock traveled to Gainesville to raise awareness and learn more about the issue.

  • Warnock visited the Gainesville campus of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC). During his visit, toured the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and took part in a roundtable discussion with Northeast Georgia Health System leaders.

  • NGHS is one of only nine recipients of a $1 million grant awarded to support state-led maternal health innovation. The local health system says it will use the funding for Women and Children’s Services, as well as the Georgia Heart Institute, to study and prevent cardiac disease among pregnant and postpartum women.

  • While visiting NGMC, Warnock also discussed the importance of the Georgia Council for Recovery’s maternal peer support program. The program provides certified addiction recovery empowerment specialists – CARES – for hospital NICUs.

Univision 34 Atlanta: WATCH: Senator Warnock talks with members of the Hispanic community
August 8, 2023

  • Senator Warnock announced a grant of $500,000 to invest in Hispanic companies during a visit with members of the Hispanic community in a supermarket.