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Los Angeles hospital under investigation accused of ignoring Black woman’s pain

April Valentine planned to have a complication-free delivery and to enjoy her life as a first-time parent to a healthy baby girl. Instead, California’s department of health and human services is investigating the circumstances of the April's death during childbirth.

April, a 31-year-old Black woman, went to Centinela hospital in Inglewood on 9 January and died the next day. Her daughter Aniya was born via an emergency caesarean section. Her family and friends say that staff at the hospital ignored the pregnant woman’s complaints of pain, refused to let her doula be in the hospital room during the birth and neglected Valentine as her child’s father performed CPR on her.

“It’s hard to even sleep, to even look at my child after seeing what I saw in that hospital that night,” said Nigha Robertson, Valentine’s boyfriend and Aniya’s father, to the Los Angeles county board of supervisors during its 31 January meeting. “I’m the only one who touched her, I’m the one who did CPR. Nobody touched her, we screamed and begged for help … they just let her lay there and die.”

During the 31 January board of supervisors meeting, people who spoke in support of Valentine said that Centinela hospital is known around the community for being one of the “worst hospitals in the county” for Black and Latina mothers and their infants. 

Since 2000, the maternal mortality rate in the US has risen nearly 60%, with about 700 people dying during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth each year. More than 80% of the deaths are preventable, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US has the highest maternal mortality rate among industrialized countries and Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

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Source: The Guardian, 3 March 2023


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