Luanna Flagg, Community Health Worker

Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than any other racial group. This tragic disparity was recently highlighted by the passing of Krystal Lakeshia Anderson, a longtime Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader.

In recognition of Black Maternal Health Week, we spoke with Luanna Flagg, a Community Health Worker at Quincy Medical Group (QMG). Flagg’s dedication to tackling this issue began her in graduate school studies, when one of her professors shared a shocking infographic revealing the stark racial disparity in maternal mortality rates.

“I knew I needed to act and do my part in at least attempting to decrease this disparity. I wanted to do more and realized it’s going to take more than one person to care about this disparity for changes to transpire. I wanted to be a part of this change,” she shared.

Flagg’s dedication to the drive that change within the Quincy community is a focus of her work with QMG and the Quincy ARISE Coalition. The coalition includes QMG, Bella Ease, YWCA Quincy, and the Adams County Health Department. Collaboration is critical in addressing health disparities.

“In order to improve these outcomes, it will take a village. This includes involving the community and organizations in safe spaces to have conversations about this crisis,” she shared. “Organizations can raise awareness by sharing information to the community that can improve outcomes for moms, birthing people, and families.”

Enhancing access to maternal healthcare and education are essential steps toward improving outcomes for Black mothers and their families, Flagg said. By creating safe spaces for conversations and education, communities can empower individuals to advocate for their own health and well-being.

On April 17, QMG will host a Maternal Health Day event from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Quincy Senior & Family Resource Center to bring attention and action in improving Black maternal health. Community organizations including QMG, Adams County Health Department, YWCA Quincy, Transitions of Western Illinois, and Care Net will be in attendance to offer their support and share more about their services.

“This event will create a safe space for Black mothers to feel safe in receiving resources and asking life-saving questions. My main goal is to let these parents know that services do exist, there is help out there, and to provide overall support,” Flagg said.

The significance of addressing disparities in Black maternal health extends far beyond individual experiences.

Flagg explained, “Birthing people and their children will determine the health and well-being of the next generation and can impact future public health challenges for families, communities, and the healthcare system.”