SARAH VERBIEST

Looking Forward , Sarah Verbiest, founder of Every Woman Southeast, reflects on the new year and what it holds.

For August we are featuring Louisiana, the most recent state to join Every Woman Southeast! We’ve asked two MCH leaders in Louisiana our interview questions and their answers reveal a lot about their passion for their work and their state. Our first featured leader from Louisiana is Rebekah Gee MD, MPH, Director of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ Birth Outcome Initiative. We interviewed her to find out more about her experience and interest in Every Woman Southeast.

How long have you been in your current position? 

I’ve been in this position 2 years.

What is your favorite thing/task/part of your work? 

I most enjoy partnering with the Louisiana health care leaders to improve the health of women and infants. As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I know how necessary and difficult it is to change and improve clinical practice patterns. I have been fortunate to engage the Louisiana leaders of the Department of Health and Hospitals; Louisiana Hospital Association; state Medicaid, Public Health, and Behavioral Health agencies; professional medical associations; and community-based organizations. Working together, both public and private entities, we are solving some of Louisiana’s most persistent barriers to improving birth outcomes.

What is your biggest challenge? 

Louisiana has among the highest rates of poverty and social inequity, and lowest rates of educational attainment. That makes our work that much more important.

Why are you involved in Every Woman Southeast? 

I want to learn from the other states and help diffuse innovation.

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it? 

I would extend the work of Louisiana’s Birth Outcomes Initiative for another year in order to fully institutionalize our projects focused on 1) Safety and Quality Improvement in Birthing Hospitals, 2) Pre/Interconception Care, 3) Prenatal Behavioral Health Screening/Treatment, 4) Ending Non-Medically Indicated Deliveries Prior to 39 Weeks Gestation, and 5) Louisiana Report Card for Maternity and NICU Care.

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