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CHICAGO — Residents in Chicago neighborhoods that lack healthcare facilities are even more vulnerable during this pandemic — and that’s especially true when it comes to maternity care.

Chicago is home to some of the best hospitals in the world from the lakefront campuses to the medical districts to the University of Chicago in Hyde Park and beyond.

However, in some neighborhoods, an already serious situation is becoming even worse. Englewood is 95% black and is becoming a place lacking in maternity care.

 Local Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward) says it’s just wrong.

“Nationally, African-American women are three times likely to die from maternal causes, but in Chicago, we are six times likely to die because of pregnancy issues and we can’t allow that to happen,” she said.

Trauma centers pulled out long ago. Now St. Bernard Hospital has stopped delivering babies until further notice to respond more effectively, it says on its Facebook page, to deal with patients who are sick with COVID-19. Patients are being diverted six miles north to Mercy Hospital.

That coupled with the cancelled or diminished services at Holy Cross, Trinity and Metro South, services are scarce.

Research has shown, according to The New York Times that black patients are treated better when they receive care from black doctors.

Black women in America have a higher percentage of problems during pregnancy and childbirth than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They have higher rates of preeclampsia, hypertension and gestational diabetes.

“I think now hospitals have an incentive to go ahead and close labor and delivery, and I don’t think they will reopen,” Dr. Joy West, an OBGYN at Roseland Hospital, said.

West believes the costs of COVID-19 has to a great degree accelerated the demise of these hospitals and other health care centers.

“The greatest impact these closures will have for women in these underserved communities is that maternal mortality, devastating impact on our community,” she said.

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