By Chloe Denham
September 30, 2020
Addressing maternal mortality and morbidity issues in Harris County is a marathon, not a sprint, and every leg counts. Today, we check in with a current medical student at UT McGovern Medical School, passionate about being part of the next generation of physicians advocating for women’s health.
Chloe Denham comes from a long line of artists from Oklahoma and draws from a background of creativity and innovation as she pushes through her second year of medical school during a tumultuous time in health care. Instead of being deterred by the ongoing pandemic, Chloe finds even more passion in why she pursued a career in medicine in the first place and her belief in the opportunity for change.
When Chloe was in college, she came across Charles Johnson’s testimony pushing for H.R.1318, Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018. The powerful story of his wife, who was in exceptional health but ultimately died from post-labor complications, galvanized her to advocate on behalf of mothers who all deserve to live to raise their children.
Chloe says, “it was incredibly moving to hear from people who have felt left behind from the injustices in women’s health in our healthcare system, and so I started having these tough conversations with my own family and friends to raise awareness.” Take a moment to hear Charles speak in the short video below and find more information at 4Kira4Moms.
Chloe’s motivations further developed as she worked as a medical assistant in a gynecology clinic the year after she graduated college. She recounts that “many women from all different ages came into our clinic and had a lot of questions about their health. They had so many different medications after being passed around from doctor to doctor, and again, I was struck by the feeling that they would greatly benefit from having an advocate to help them navigate the system and achieve equitable, continuous health.”
Now, in medical school, Chloe finds time to work with the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies committee on their latest project, creating a reference sheet with consolidated programs in Texas for postpartum women who might be kicked off of their insurance. The sheet will eventually be an easy-to-use reference for women to identify what public, state-funded programs and health coverage they qualify for and connect them to the resources to access them.
Chloe knows that “pregnancy is like a stress test on a woman’s body but her health has and must continue to be supported all throughout her life in order to truly address maternal mortality.”
Chloe continues to listen and learn from the diverse set of people around her in medical school. She believes it’s a really dynamic way to set change in motion and ends with, “my call to action for readers is to engage with friends and family about maternal mortality. It’s real.
“Share the stories and passion you have for it with those around you. The more people we can join with to take action right now, the better off the mothers and children of the future will be. We can’t wait until it’s too late.”
Indeed we can’t, and there is a lot of hope to hold on to for the future with people like Chloe leading it.