Multicultural Issues

Indiana coalition works to reduce minority maternal, infant mortality rates

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Minorities lead the way in chronic illnesses, according to the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, which is working to help lower risks.

More minorities than ever are insured, but health advocates said huge barriers keep many others from getting what they need. It often boils down to socioeconomic issues and access to housing and healthy food.

Coalition representatives said chronic health conditions disproportionately impact minority communities.

“Cancer, diabetes, HIV, AIDS, and it’s usually a combination of socioeconomic issues, health care access,” said Tony Gillespie with the coalition.

Gillespie said the agency has worked for years with 21 organizations to reduce barriers, but the state isn’t quite where it needs to be. “Quality, consistent health care is very important.”

The agency is putting added focus on lowering maternal and infant mortality rates in minorities. “In the state of Indiana, black infants are two times more likely to die, and black women are over four times more likely to die in childbirth-related issues,” Gillespie said.

He said the group has advocated for change to Medicaid coverage and is working on research to better understand black or brown women’s experiences with getting access to prenatal care. The coalition is also highlighting how doulas play a vital role in minimizing deaths.

“Doulas, over the last seven to 10 years, have really been proven to be effective in reducing the number of maternal deaths,” he said.

Doulas are not midwifes, but rather support people who stay with women through pregnancy and up until their babies are 1 year old.

Sonte Hunt, a doula, said she calls herself a second pair of eyes for black women who may go unheard in doctor’s offices. “It could be a case of they are on Medicaid or have no insurance at all, you know, and in the medical field if you don’t have any insurance, it kind of, you know, slights you a bit.”

Hunt also has directed women to essential resources. “We ensure they have a great pregnancy.”

The coalition will host first Doula Day at the statehouse on Feb. 25.


Neighbors stunned by shooting in ‘safe,’ ‘quiet’ Eagles Watch subdivision

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) — The Eagles Watch subdivision on the city’s northwest side is home to dozens of families.

“It’s very quiet here,” said Irma Molina, who lives on Eagles Watch Drive.

The winding road is often touted as an oasis of safety, seemingly removed from the city’s crime crisis, according to Jeremy Layly, who lives down the street from Molina.

He walks his dogs through the neighborhood every night without worrying about what he’ll encounter in the dark.

On Thursday night, his walk led him toward flashing police lights and crime scene tape. 

Detectives were collecting evidence from the scene of a shooting in the 5000 block of Eagles Watch Drive, less than a quarter of a mile from Layly’s home.

“I’ve heard gunshots [before] but not in the neighborhood,” he told News 8. “That’s intense.”

Officers arrived around 4 p.m. after neighbors reported hearing gunshots. An unidentified man was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests had been made Thursday night. No suspect information was available.

The shooting appeared to be targeted and did not pose an immediate threat to public safety, police said.

“[Detectives are] working hard to solve these crimes and to prevent crimes,” said Michael Hewitt, a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).

Molina, whose home was within the police perimeter, ducked under the yellow tape to speak with News 8.

She and her son still feel safe living on Eagles Creek Drive, she said, but she is wary of rising crime in other parts of the city.

“It is very dangerous lately,” Molina said in Spanish. “Many crimes have happened.”

Anybody with information about the shooting is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.