Maternal Health  – The Answer is in the Community

From left-to-right: Celeste Beck, PhD; Wen Ting "Wendy" Fung; Sherenne Simon, MPH; Renaisa Anthony, MD, MPH; Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, Medical Director at Mahmee

In late January, Heluna Health proudly served as the title sponsor for the Future of Maternal Care Summit in San Francisco for the second consecutive year. The event, which attracted 150 attendees including CEO’s, entrepreneurs, decision-makers and advocates spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors, was dedicated to advancing maternal care as a priority within the healthcare system. Discussions were particularly focused on narrowing the care gap for under-served communities.

The summit showcased Heluna Health’s commitment to maternal health, which encompasses longstanding programs such as PHFE WIC, as well as new partners and direct service programs like MOMentum Park and CinnaMoms. Heluna Health’s presence was prominent throughout the event, with representation on multiple panels. In addition to a highly visible booth, Heluna Health hosted a luncheon for leaders and peer organizations (including Mahmee, Rhia Ventures, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the American medical Association) and led the keynote panel, titled “The Answer is in the Community.” The panel emphasized the importance of community involvement in public and population health, highlighting ways to leverage community engagement to improve maternal care outcomes.

Moderated by Sherenne Simon, Principal at the Global Simon Group and former Senior Director of Health Equity at the March of Dimes, the keynote panel featured discussions on elevating community-based approaches with Celeste Beck, an associate researcher at Heluna Health, Wendy Fung, Breastfeeding Services Manager at PHFE WIC, and Dr. Renaisa Anthony, founder of Heluna Health partner MOMentum Park. Dr. Anthony underscored the significance of her partnership with Heluna Health in securing funding, stating, “What I kept hearing over and over from the grant makers and from the large foundations is, ‘We love what you’re doing, but you’re too new.’ That’s where Heluna Health came in. I wrote this amazing grant for us to serve the women in New Orleans, and we got five million dollars for SHERO (Shaping Healthy & Equitable Reproductive Outcomes). That’s the power of partnerships.”

Additionally, Heluna Health employee K’Lynn Mitchell, the CinnaMoms Project Coordinator at PHFE WIC, shared insights on a panel about building equitable maternal care from the ground up. PHFE WIC Executive Director Kiran Saluja spoke on a panel entitled, “The Maternal Care Mosaic – Patient-Centricity at Every Point of Care,” expressing the fulfillment of aiding mothers and babies on a daily basis. “It is wildly interesting, exciting, rewarding, affirming when you are able to help moms and babies every single day,” she said.