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Niagara Falls health organizations expand prenatal care through collaboration

Six individuals are pictured smiling, standing in front of a podium and logo backdrop.
Emyle Watkins
Pictured from left to right at a press conference about the new prenatal care collaboration: City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino; Dr. Shery Goril, Department of Family Medicine, Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB); Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Chief Executive Officer, CHCB; Dr. Hannah Bailey, M.D., Director, OB GYN Center at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (NFMMC); Sheila Kee, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, NFMMC; Stephanie W. Cowart, Project Manager, CHCN;  Joseph A. Ruffolo, President & Chief Executive Officer, NFMMC.

A new partnership between two medical providers in Niagara Falls hopes to help the community see happier and healthier mothers and babies.

The Community Healthcare Center of Buffalo and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center partnering is something CHCB Chief Executive Officer Dr. LaVonne Ansari says isn’t new — but rather, what is new is what their latest program partnership seeks to address.

Dr. LaVonne Ansari stands at a podium wearing a bright yellow jacket. Behind her are logos for the community health center and in the foreground other individuals are seated.
Emyle Watkins
Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Chief Executive Officer, Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. speaks at a press conference on Tuesday, July 27th regarding the new health partnership with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

“What is new is how we address health equity and racism in healthcare. It's not so much we know it exists, but how do we operationalize it? This partnership begins to operationalize, how do we begin to attack health equity, particularly for our brown and Black people, in terms of particularly prenatal, because we're dying, African-American women disproportionately," Ansari said.

Statistically, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, according to the New York Times in 2018. The two health organizations will be working to improve outcomes for soon-to-be and new mothers through a partnership that will bring doctors from the hospital to the community health center.

The Community Healthcare Center of Buffalo and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center partnering for new prenatal care program
WBFO's Emyle Watkins reports on the new healthcare partnership in Niagara Falls.

The doctors will come every other Tuesday for about four hours, to see about 10 patients. Those patients can receive treatment at the community health center for 24 to 26 weeks. Then, they’ll go to the hospital for the rest of their pregnancy journey.

“Us having a collaboration with our partners at Memorial to allow the patient and our community to have safe care very early, comfortably and culturally relevant," Ansari said.

The program will begin in August and will be hosted at CHCB's Niagara Falls campus on Highland Avenue. For more information on the community health center and to contact them, click here.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.