Health Net Community Doula Pilot Program
Doula Support for African-American/Black Families in Los Angeles County
The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health developed and implemented a Community-Based Doula Pilot Program for African-American/Black families in Los Angeles County through a partnership with Health Net, Inc. one of the largest HMO managed-care organizations in California. Health Net’s goal was to lower cesarean rates for their African-American/Black members by providing 10 mostly-African-American/Black Doulas to serve 150 women from 2019 to 2021. As of December 2019, we are no longer managing this program.
- We served 30 women from May to December 2019.
- In just 7 months, we succeeded in lowering Health Net’s African-American members’ cesarean rate from 70% to 10% among participants enrolled in this program. This is far lower than Los Angeles’s cesarean rate for African-American/Black mothers at 38% and 42% for African-American mothers in California, and 34% for African-American mothers enrolled in Medi-Cal in California (Sakala & DeClerq, 2018).
- Our premature birth rate among program participants was 5%, far lower than the California rate of 11.9% for African-Infants in 2018 (March of Dimes, 2018).
- We established a precedent for providing a living wage for Doulas working in public health programs at $3700/per month based on two births per month. Other public health Doula programs have followed our lead.
- We set a precedent for Medi-Cal reimbursement of Doula services.
- We established protocols for public health Doula programs.
- We provided free childbirth preparation classes to 10 families, meeting a dire need in Los Angeles County for quality, comprehensive, evidence-based childbirth education for Medi-Cal recipients.
HAPPY MAMA HEALTHY BABY COMMUNITY DOULA PROGRAM ACCEPTING CLIENTS
We continue to offer Doula Support for Los Angeles County families through our Happy Mama Healthy Baby Community Doula Program. Our Doulas are multicultural: Black, White and Latino and multi-racial. We speak Spanish, French and African languages. We serve all families of all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic levels, regardless of ability to pay. Medi-Cal recipients may receive Doula support from a volunteer free of charge. We work on a sliding scale. No-one is turned away for inability to pay, because we believe that every family deserves a Doula.
For more information, or to receive a Doula, contact:
Elsie Gutierrez, MPH, Manager of Community Programs
Happy Mama Healthy Baby Community Doula Program Coordinator
(626) 388-2191 ext. 2.
National Center for Health Statistics, final natality data 2015-2018
Sakala, C., Declercq, E.R., Turon, J.M., & Corry, M.P. (2018). Listening to Mothers in California:
A Population-Based Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences, Full Survey Report.
Washington, D.C.: National Partnership for Women & Families