Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso last week launched a comprehensive, $250,000 maternal health campaign in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole — with print and online resources, bus and subway ads, and social media outreach targeting at-risk Black, Brown, Caribbean, and Latino mothers.
But Reynoso is dramatically boosting the new health program by adding his entire $45 million fiscal year 2023 capital budget and making a bold, historic attempt to improve the odds for Brooklyn’s Black and Brown mothers who are too often in life-or-death situations.
This is the first time in city history that a borough president has spent an entire fiscal year’s funds on a single entity.
Reynoso’s $45 million outlay will aid three city Health and Hospitals Corp. facilities, in conjunction with his maternal health initiative — renovating Kings County Hospital Center’s newborn intensive care unit, overhauling the labor and delivery rooms, post-partum recovery rooms at Coney Island Hospital, building a state-of-the-art birthing center at Woodhull Hospital, and among other specific maternal health care improvements.
The Black, Brown, Caribbean, and Latino communities “where the highest rates of maternal mortality and morbidity have been reported” — including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Canarsie, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, East New York, Flatbush, and Williamsburg — are the target areas for the health initiative,” says Reynoso, explaining that Black Brooklyn women are 9.4 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than their White counterparts – and Caribbean women [Haitian women in particular] face the highest risks.
“I’m hoping that in four years, Brooklyn is the safest place to have a baby, which is going to be difficult to do, but that’s my goal,” said Reynoso, during a sit-down at the September Cafe in Bedford-Stuyvesant, just prior to last Wednesday’s announcement.
The decision to bolster the maternal initiative was made in July. The borough president founded a Maternal Health Taskforce of veteran health and policy experts in April, to create and execute the project. Among its members are Jamaica-born former City Councilmember Una Clarke, and Cheryl Hall, executive director of the 40-year-old Caribbean Women’s Health Association.
In addition to physical improvements at hospitals, the mindsets of mothers, medical professionals, and others must be changed to achieve progress on maternal health, agreed Reynoso and taskforce co-chair Dr. Wendy Wilcox, chief women’s health Service officer for the HHC.
Find the online maternal health resource guide at brooklyn-usa.org/healthypregnancy.
There’s still time to see “Sources of Light,” an exhibition of 30 painted portraits by Jamaica-born artist Donovan Nelson, in Manhattan at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkelba, at 219 E. 2nd St. [at Ave. B]. The exhibit closes on Dec. 31.
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Great Black artists Benny Andrews, Sam Gilliam, Norman Lewis, and Frank Wimberley are among the subject of the artworks, as well as portraits of art students who Nelson has taught.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (212) 674-3939 for information.
Yes, talent and dance runs in the family of Trinidad and Tobago-born Chelsea Andell, who is making her mark as a professional dancer, actress, educator — and rapper too.
The multi-talented 21-year-old New York-based performer, who goes by her stage name “Sauce the Rapper,” has already racked up honors and achievements in dance and acting. And she recently releasing a remix tune entitled “Let Your Light Shine” this month.
Andell recently expanded her dance instruction repertoire by holding her first hip-hop class in October at the Ripley Frier Studios in Manhattan. Her mother is Candice Clarke, who founded the Trinidad and Tobago-based Candice Clarke Academy of Dance in 1979. Andell serves as co-director of her mother’s Academy of Dance.
Over the years, Andell has achieved several dance related honors, and has been drawn to the acting profession, and the New York Film Academy graduate has had several film roles.
For more on Chelsea Andell, visit linktr.ee/chelseaandell.