Lawmaker proposes cultural training to reduce infant mortality

An Ohio senator said some medical professionals provide different levels of care to people based on their own biases

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Cultural competency training is being offered up as a possible solution to infant mortality rates in Ohio.

State Senator Charleta Tavares has introduced a bill that calls for the training of all medical professionals as a way to help them identify unconscious biases they may possess and to create better health outcomes for all Ohioans.

Tavares cites studies and research from Yale and other academic sources that claim some medical professionals unintentionally provide different levels of care to different people based on their own personal biases.

She also cites findings from 2013-2015 from the Centers for Disease Control that put Ohio at 40th out of 50 states for all infant mortality, and 49th out of 50 for African American infants.

According to Tavares, how we treat our infants is a barometer for how we treat the rest of our society.

There are a lot of reasons that factor into why infants die. Some of those factors could be linked to how the mother of the child felt about the care she received during and after her pregnancy.

Tavares claims that some mothers have told her they felt as if their doctors and nurses did not want to touch them. This caused the mother not to seek further health care from those individuals.

Her fear is those mothers and children would be open to poor health outcomes as a result of a negative experience.

Tavares believes that if medical professionals were trained to be more aware of other cultures and their own biases, they could course correct and provide better service to their patients. That, in turn, would make for a healthier population and fewer infant deaths, she said.

Her bill is currently in a Senate Committee, and according to Tavares, she has talked to the chairman of the committee who has agreed to give the bill more hearings.

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