AVAC Spotlight: Dr. Betty J. Braxter, Ph.D., CNM, RN
Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Nursing Program and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing
Dr. Betty Braxter, the Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Nursing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing, sees a strong need to address the high number of deaths and other health-related issues disproportionately afflicting women of color.
Coming from a background on maternal mortalities, Dr. Braxter has been troubled by the statistic that 12.5% of infections are related to maternal mortality, a key issue for members of African American communities. It is also of concern that 50,000 to 70,000 women are likely to experience some kind of maternal complication related to pregnancy, with African American women, again, disproportionately represented in this data. However, many of these maternal deaths could have been prevented or resolved earlier.
Dr. Braxter firmly believes that many of these deaths could have been prevented specifically with vaccinations. She believes that every woman should be offered, with a high recommendation, the TDAP and influenza vaccine for each pregnancy. With a lower vaccination rate than white women, women of color have an extreme burden in dealing with maternal deaths and other maternal complications.
To improve the situation, Dr. Braxter believes that there must be a strong commitment on behalf of healthcare providers, with increased focus from all levels of providers like nurses, physicians, and other stakeholders. By engaging on community levels and having open conversations with individual members of a community, there can be a level of conformity between healthcare provider goals and community goals.
As the public health crisis across the United States forces people to look at healthcare and public health issues through an equity lens, it is crucial for healthcare providers and other stakeholders within the industry to focus on providing equal access and pushing for equity across the board, especially towards women of color. This starts with improving relationships among healthcare providers and individual communities.
As a champion of health equity especially across maternal mortality and other issues, Dr. Braxter has devoted her career in health to caring for women across the life span. As a member of Pittsburgh Black Nurses in Action and the National Black Nurses Association, she is a champion for health equity within communities of color.