Patient Profile: Sami

This post is part of a series where we highlight the lives of the moms we serve. Specifically we want to bring a face to the complex issues we have begun addressing in this blog – such as care in the first trimester.

All stories are compilations from conversations with actual patients and additional research. To protect identities, we have used stock photos.
By Lindsey Hill, Intern

Medicaid benefits end 2 months after delivery – leaving new mothers without health insurance during a very risky postpartum period. Meet Sami, a young African American mother, who began experiencing extreme fatigue and swelling of her ankles towards the end of her pregnancy. These symptoms can be very normal toward the end and were quickly forgotten after the uneventful delivery of her baby.

Yet a few months later, Sami went to the hospital multiple times for extreme shortness of breath. The doctors she saw mistakenly attributed the cause as her history of asthma and sent her home. In addition, Sami missed a postpartum doctor visit due to lack of transportation. It wasn’t until a third hospital visit that she was diagnosed with heart failure (postpartum cardiomyopathy). Cardiomyopathy is a form of heart failure that can be fatal and is the leading cause of maternal deaths during the period from 1 week to 1 year after delivery. With her diagnosis, Sami needed frequent medical visits, had a weakened heart muscle, and a prolonged recovery.

This heart failure is difficult to detect because its symptoms can mimic those of a third trimester pregnancy, such as Sami’s fatigue and swollen ankles. Sami’s diagnosis could have been prevented if she had been educated about postpartum health risks, if her hospital providers had asked if she recently gave birth, or attending her postpartum visit. These would have likely resulted in an earlier cardiology consultation, and with more personalized care, the risk to Sami’s health would have been minimized. 

Many pregnancy-related health complications, and even death, come from those who lose coverage or access to care after giving birth. This lack of access only magnifies the issues new mothers face – highlighting the importance of extending Medicaid coverage. Heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 maternal deaths and black women have a higher risk of heart-related maternal deaths. Developing nations like Southern Asia have achieved overall reduction in maternal mortality rates, yet the United States is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate has been increasing since 1987.

2 out of every 5 U.S. births are through Medicaid and these poor outcomes many women and infants face could be addressed through expansion of Medicaid policy to extend the coverage period. State-led and federal initiatives can improve access to care and the quality of services pregnant women covered under Medicaid receive.

Even though she was left without health insurance after her Medicaid benefits ended, Sami was fortunate to catch her postpartum heart failure when she did. Sami and her baby are doing well today.

Expanding Access to Care


November 2021

A continuation of our series highlighting the issues affecting the low-income moms gaining access to quality health care.

By Lindsey Hill, Intern


Medicaid provides health coverage to 1 in 5 Americans, with many low-income pregnant women relying on the program to aid with delivery expenses. Expectant mothers can qualify for coverage in a couple ways – as a previous recipient of Medicaid services, meeting qualifications at the beginning of pregnancy, or through emergency coverage from delivery up to eight weeks postpartum. Due to life circumstances, many of the women we serve don’t qualify until emergency coverage sets in at delivery.  

For all moms using Medicaid, the ability to access postpartum care used to last for only 60 days postpartum – far to short to benefit the health of mom and baby. However, progress is being made. In 2020, the United States House of Representatives passed legislation allowing states to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days up to a full year postpartum. Why is this extension of Medicaid coverage for new mothers so important?

Extending Medicaid coverage will provide insurance for women at a medically vulnerable time in their lives while they are pregnant and after giving birth. Low-income women are disproportionately likely to face life-threatening conditions between 8 weeks and 1 year following their deliveries. This postpartum year is critical for women and extending Medicaid coverage could mean the difference between life and death for many new mothers.

This expansion is significant for low-income women by increasing their access to pre- and post- partum care. Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, has expanded the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program, giving hundreds of thousands of Virginians access to medical care and the opportunity to lead healthier lives. Extending coverage for low-income pregnant women and new mothers will ensure continuous health coverage during some of the most important times of their lives. The previous coverage of 60-days postpartum was simply not enough because continuous health coverage is crucial for keeping women healthy during and after pregnancy. With these new opportunities for expectant and new mothers, we should hope to see an increase in access to quality maternal health care coverage. 

4 Questions with Elizabeth Ingram


This post is part of a series where we pose questions on issues related to maternal and infant care for vulnerable populations to health professionals, community advocates, mothers, JBLF volunteers and other important voices. 

Elizabeth Ingram is on the Board of Directors and serves as the race director for our annual 5K and Family Fun Day. She’s also an amazing volunteer outside of the 5K.




1.    What do you see as JB-LF’s biggest accomplishment to date?  

The impact of The Telemedicine Program is a huge bright spot for the Foundation. The fact that women can receive care without leaving work or home is so important. In addition, the fact that the Mom’s served by this program saw such a huge reduction in NICU admissions, 61%, and 25% reduction in C-sections is amazing.

2.    Has anything surprised you?

The continued support of this amazing community leaves me in awe each year….7 years later and it feels like the first time. People of all ages and walks of lives support the work of the Foundation through donations of time and money.  I love that for the past few years a young girl has asked friends and family to donate to The JB-LF as their birthday gifts to her.

3.    What is your favorite part of our 5K?

The people!  I love seeing the smiling faces so eager to run what may be the hilliest 5k course in Arlington. I love seeing friends and neighbors come out for the event year after year. I can’t wait for this year’s race!

4.    What are people surprised to find out about you?

I guess people would be surprised to know that I have run 5 marathons and 7 Ragnar relays.  My racing days are behind me, but I love to cheer other runner especially at the JB-LF 5k.

Patient Profile: Cora


This post is part of a series where we highlight the lives of the moms we serve. Specifically we want to bring a face to the complex issues we have begun addressing in this blog – such as Medicare.

All stories are compilations from conversations with actual patients and additional research. To protect identities, we have used stock photos.

By Lindsey Hill, Intern



In a previous profile, we described how the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation helped an Arlington mom named Julie. Here is a story of how JB-LF and its contributors provided assistance to another mom during her pregnancy. After delivering her firstborn, Cora had a life-threatening blood clot – putting her in high risk during subsequent pregnancies. So when Cora became pregnant with her second child she was not only concerned for her baby, Cora was also anxious about her own health and being on medications to prevent blood clots.

With this high risk pregnancy, Cora needed regular check-ins with her physician to monitor her condition and the medications she would be on. On top of it all, going to routine doctor appointments seemed virtually impossible under the threat of firing due to missing work. How could Cora choose between her health and making money to support her family’s needs for basic food and shelter? Cora’s situation was further complicated by a lack of health insurance.

The telemedicine initiative funded by JBLF made it possible for Cora to consult with her physician from work. Now, she would not have to sacrifice her health or her job because JB-LF’s program could offer Cora weekly telemedicine visits. Cora could step into a closet at her job and connect with her doctors using her phone. This allowed Cora to have her questions and concerns answered on the spot.

With the help of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation and its contributors, Cora was able to stay in contact with her health care providers while continuing to provide for her family. JBLF’s telemedicine pilot program was revolutionary for Cora’s pregnancy. Thanks to the program, JB-LF, and all who contribute to the foundation, Cora and her baby are doing well today. 

Medicaid for Low-Income Moms


September 2021

A continuation of our series highlighting the issues affecting the low-income moms gaining access to quality health care.

By Lindsey Hill, Intern

Access to affordable health care is a basic human need yet in the United States, the future of a vital safety net remains uncertain. A report from 2018 revealed that 1 in 10 Arlington adults are living without health insurance. Given how affluent the Arlington community is, it’s a concerning statistic that 11% of Arlington residents do not have insurance. Thankfully there is a safety net for the uninsured – Medicaid. Medicaid covers essential health benefits, including pregnancy, maternity, pediatric care, chronic disease management, breastfeeding support, contraception, mental health and other behavioral health services.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that currently provides health coverage to 1 in 5 Americans, including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States, with Virginia Medicaid offering low-cost and no-cost health coverage programs for citizens and legal immigrants based on financial status. 

Close to 50% of all U.S. births are covered by Medicaid, along with a large number of maternal, infant, and child health visits. Serving millions of U.S. pregnant women living in poverty, Medicaid expansion has increased access to coverage and services associated with improving the lives of mothers and infants. 

While there are multiple coverage options in the state of Virginia for children and pregnant women, more can be done for these frequent users of needed medical services. Medicaid expansion can and will continue to help low-income populations, specifically helping mothers in need to ensure healthy pregnancies and births. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has prioritized Medicaid expansion and in our next Medicaid blog, we will detail how this expansion can have a positive impact for the moms and babies we serve.

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Funds Pilot OB Connect Program

THE JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION FUNDS PILOT OB CONNECT PROGRAM

CONTACT
Kelly Garrity
703-462-2336, kgarrity@jb-lf.org

Arlington, VA: June 2021

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) provided $38,000 to the Virginia Hospital Center for the pilot of the Hospital’s OB Connect program, which provides patients with the flexibility to receive prenatal care from home.

“Just as people have gotten used to tracking their health with watches and other wearable devices, our patients have easy-to-use home monitoring equipment to keep their OB/GYN provider apprised of their vital signs,” said Amanda Rohn, MD, FACOG, VHC Physician Group-OB/GYN. “VHC OB Connect represents a new age of medicine, where we are using technology to make care more convenient for patients and, at the same time, giving them greater access to their healthcare providers.”

Rather than visiting the office for every appointment, OB Connect patients schedule some remote appointments, called Continuing Care Visits, via secure video. The program provides participants with a fetal Doppler to check their baby’s heart rate and an electronic blood pressure cuff for personal blood pressure monitoring. Patients then report these readings to their nurses two days before each appointment through the MyVHC patient portal, allowing nurses to review results and consult doctors and midwives as needed. 

“VHC’s OB Connect program is an essential step in the movement for accessible prenatal care for economically vulnerable moms,” said Neal Lawson, founder and chair of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. “With virtual appointments, patients will not have to take time off work, pay for childcare or parking, or rush to appointments. We hope that by funding this program, we can reduce the financial burdens and added stress that so often come with seeking care during pregnancy.”

The JBLF grant provides funding for OB Connect Nurses, at-home care kits for patients, the OB Connect educational app, and the printing and translation of program materials to Spanish for increased accessibility. Additionally, the donation allows patients of VHC’s Outpatient Clinic to access this brand-new program free of charge.

“We cannot thank the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation enough for their generous donation to Virginia Hospital Center,” said Michelle Altman, MBA, MSN, RN, Patient Care Director. “The OB Connect program is transformational for our Outpatient Clinic patients, providing them with reliable access to convenient, top-quality prenatal care.”

The OB Connect program is closely connected to the mission of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. Founded in honor of Jenn Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the organization works to increase access to quality maternal and infant care for economically vulnerable families.

The VHC Physician Group-OB/GYN is the first and only OB/GYN practice in the area to offer a service of this type to their patients. The program is now in full force at VHC, and recently, the first mother to enroll in the program completed a successful delivery.

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Established in honor of Jennifer Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and pediatric health care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive.

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Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Grant Sees Results (Get Up DC)

 

August 13, 2020 by Get Up DC

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — Jennifer Bush-Lawson was a woman who made it her mission to help mothers with complicated pregnancies after battling issues during her pregnancies. Sadly, the wife and mother of three’s work was cut short in 2014 — but her mission lives on. The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation funded grant for a telemedicine program at Virginia Hospital Center has seen amazing results.

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Funded Telemedicine Program Shows Promising Results

THE JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION FUNDED VHC OUTPATIENT CLINIC TELEMEDICINE PROGRAM REDUCES NEED FOR C-SECTIONS, NICU ADMISSIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECONTACT
Kelly Garrity
703-462-2336, kgarrity@jb-lf.org

Arlington, VA: July 20, 2020 – A pilot program exploring the impact of telemedicine on outcomes for high-risk maternity patients and patients with chronic medical conditions run by Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, with support from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) has made a remarkable impact on the lives of low-income, high-risk individuals who may not have otherwise had access to consistent, quality healthcare.

As of December 31, 2019, the telemedicine program has resulted in:

  • A 25.7 percent reduction in c-section rates for high-risk pregnancies;
  • A 61.5 percent reduction in NICU admissions for newborns;
  • A 65.2 percent reduction in emergency room visits;
  • A 56.1 percent reduction in hospital admissions; and
  • A 69.2 percent increase in the number of hypertension patients who achieved their goal blood pressure.

“Telemedicine involves patients as active participants in managing their care, ensuring a higher percentage of healthy outcomes,” said Michelle Altman, MBA, RN, Patient Care Director at the VHC Outpatient Clinic. “Telemedicine patients are more likely to keep scheduled appointments, comply with plans of care and take medications as prescribed which makes them less likely to require a trip to the emergency room or a hospital stay.”

Launched in 2016 with a $275,000 pledge from CareFirst, the pilot program focused primarily on patients with diabetes, blood pressure issues and other concerns that require more consistent monitoring. Throughout the program, more than $120,000 in donations from the JBLF ensured coverage of staff time and allowed the Clinic to establish a more permanent infrastructure for the program which readied the clinic to expand its telemedicine appointments by more than 300 percent following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide care to patients without the risk of exposure.

“Providing economically vulnerable women better access to the maternal care they need is at the very core of JBLF’s mission,” said JBLF Executive Director Kelly Garrity. “Programs like this telemedicine pilot are transformative for women with high-risk pregnancies who do not have the option to take time off work or travel for frequent medical appointments.”

The program will continue to operate out of the Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Clinic, which serves the community by providing healthcare services to patients with or without insurance. The telemedicine program is fully integrated into VHC’s electronic records management system to make it readily accessible for physicians and patients and a Spanish translator is available.

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Established in honor of Jennifer Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and pediatric health care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive.

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Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Delivers 2500+ Meals (Good Morning Washington)

 

July 16, 2020 by Good Morning Washington

WASHINGTON (ABC7) — Jennifer Bush-Lawson was a woman who made it her mission to help mothers with complicated pregnancies after battling issues during her pregnancies. Sadly, the wife and mother of three’s work was cut short in 2014 — but her mission lives on. The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation has teamed up with Two Plates to provide meals to financially vulnerable families with newborns.

Full article: https://wjla.com/news/local/2-dmv-organizations-team-up-to-cook-deliver-over-2500-meals-to-expecting-and-new-moms 

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Welcomes New Executive Director, Vice Chair

JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION WELCOMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VICE CHAIR  
Kelly Garrity becomes executive director, Jennifer Myers moves into vice chair role on the board of directors 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Kelly Garrity
703-462-2336, kgarrity@jb-lf.org

ARLINGTON, VA, FEB. 21, 2020 – The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF) is pleased to welcome Kelly Garrity as our new full-time executive director and Jennifer Myers as Vice Chair of the board of directors.

Garrity comes to JB-LF with more than 15 years of professional experience, having spent the last 10 in nonprofits and health care associations. Most recently, as Senior Director, Member Services and Development at the National Health Council, she led growth in membership and sponsorship while creating innovative strategies to drive corporate and foundation fundraising, instituted new governance processes, and strengthened alliances with senior staff at varied organizations including major pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology companies, professional and membership associations, patient advocacy organizations, and the federal government.

She believes strongly in giving her time to charities close to her heart. Most recently, Garrity has been an active advocate of RESOLVE the Infertility Association and is also a founding member, fundraising chair and legislative co-chair of the Virginia chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing pregnancy loss and neonatal death and improving care for families who experience such tragedies.

Jennifer Myers, who first joined the foundation in 2016 as an event committee member for its annual 5K & Family Fun Day and then became the full-time executive director in 2017, will join the JB-LF board of directors as Vice Chair. During her time as executive director, Myers launched educational convenings on topics including maternal mortality and equity in prenatal care and created a Prize for Prenatal Innovation that was awarded to Children’s National for a citywide study on maternal mental health for low-income black women.

“I cannot thank these two people enough for all they’ve done — and all they’ll do — for JB-LF,” said Neal Lawson, founder and chair of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation. “Starting from the seeds of our wonderful, community-based 5K & Family Fun Day, our foundation has grown in both size and impact. We have even more planned, from new research to partnerships and events, all meant to improve access to maternal and infant care for moms and babies in need.”

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
Established in honor of Jenn Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and infant care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive. More information is available at www.jb-lf.org and on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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