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Racial justice, Social justice, Childbirth -- Social aspects, Prenatal care -- Social aspects, Newborn infants -- Care -- Social aspects, African American women -- Medical care -- Oregon


Perm Pod is produced at Northwest Permanente and is designed to educate, inform, and inspire.

Listen to Kaiser Permanente President & CEO, Dr. Imelda Dacones, speak with NWP physician Dr. Autumn Davidson and Assistant Professor at the Portland State University School of Social Work Roberta Hunte, Ph.D. MS about the importance of the Healthy Birth Initiative, how racism is poison to our health and our wellness, and how this program can empower your patients.

“HBI came into my life at a time when I didn’t feel like I had much support. The encouragement, health and parenting education, and the genuine support I received, helped me to have a positive pregnancy and a good birth outcome.”

HBI mom

Regardless of income status, Black women experience disproportionate negative health outcomes in pregnancy and postpartum. According to the National Institutes of Health, rates of maternal morbidity and mortality (MMM) are much higher in the United States than in its peer nations. National severe maternal morbidity (SMM) rates have nearly doubled over the past decade, and the incidence of SMM was 166% higher for Black women than White women from 2012 to 2015 (NIH, 2020).

How are we at KP addressing this discrepancy?

The Healthy Birth Initiative is an Afrocentric and nurse–family partnership program within Multnomah County that addresses Black maternal health and Black infant morbidity disparities. This program offers transportation, mental health support, family planning, multi-generation involvement, childbirth classes, and everything between for mothers throughout their pregnancy and 18 months after giving birth.

In this episode of Perm Pod, our President & CEO, Imelda Dacones, MD, speaks with NWP physician Autumn Davidson, MD, and Roberta Hunte, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Portland State University School of Social Work, about the importance of this program, how racism is poison to our health and our wellness, and how this program can empower our patients.

“I find when I talk about maternal health, or when I talk about some of the issues affecting black women, white women will say, ‘Well, yeah, I mean, I had a stillbirth or I had something happened,’ and they’ll even talk about an experience where they were mistreated, but they will treat it like, well, that, that happened. Like girl, get mad, like get mad, get active. Right. Our country is not performing as well as it needs to in relation to maternal health, like get it and work together.”

Roberta Hunte, Ph.D.


Autumn Davidson, MD, is an OBGYN physician and has been with Northwest Permanente since 2017. She completed her medical training on the East Coast and her post-graduate work in Chicago. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, she worked as the Family Planning clinic director, taught clinical obstetrics and gynecology, and conducted clinical research. Here at Kaiser, she continues to work in Family Planning and also cares for pregnant people with substance use disorders through Kaiser’s Project Nurture program. Dr. Davidson I feels privileged to care for women at all phases of their lives, and enjoys working with a diverse patient population. She believes that the social and emotional well-being of women is as important as the biological one, and that healthy women are the foundation of healthy families, and by extension, healthy societies

Roberta Hunte, PhD, MS, is an Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s School of Social Work. She is a Black feminist scholar with an emerging concentration in maternal and child health disparities, with particular interests in Black maternal health. Dr. Hunte’s recent work has explored Black people who can become pregnant’s perceptions of the impacts of racism-related stress on their physical and mental well-being, and the ways Healthy Birth Initiatives (HBI), a culturally-specific perinatal public health initiative, has helped mitigate this stress. She has published on topics related to Black tradeswomen, reproductive justice, and the use of performance for cultural change. Dr. Hunte teaches on issues of Black life in the United States, intersectionality, social justice, and sexual and reproductive justice.


MP3, 23.7 MB, duration: 25:47.

Persistent Identifier (46 kB)
Captions (89% accurate)

revised_transcript_Hunte.txt (20 kB)