Black Infant Loss in D.C., Part II: the Stillbirth Crisis

Washington City Paper is looking at why infant mortality hits the Black community in D.C. so hard, how it affects families and clinicians, and who is working to prevent infant loss. This three-part series is produced as a project for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship. Read part one here.

From the beginning of her pregnancy in 2022, 31-year-old Aneshia McIntyre was on edge. Each collapse along the way seemed to lead to another problem.

News of her pregnan

We Were Here: Black Infant Loss in D.C.

Between 2014 and 2020, more than 330 Black infants died in D.C. before their first birthdays. Recent perinatal reports show this problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Washington City Paper is taking a closer look at why this crisis hits the Black community in D.C. so hard, how it affects families and clinicians, and who is working to prevent infant loss. This series is being produced as a project for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship.

Part One: Three Inf

How doulas could help prevent the harms that can happen during childbirth

When Tamiya Griffin was expecting her first child in 2014, she had what she thought was a straightforward plan: deliver at the hospital down the road, the same place her mother gave birth to her. But when Griffin, then a 22-year-old senior in college, went into labor a few weeks early, she had to undergo an emergency C-section. “And that was not a part of my plan. We never talked about that. I didn’t even think about a C-section. I wasn’t prepared for that,” said Griffin.

When she became pregna

Access to Housing Can Reduce Infant Deaths

Finding solutions to the maternal and infant mortality crisis can be a confounding task. Are more mothers and babies dying because they lack insurance coverage and don’t have access to good health care providers? Are racial disparities to blame for the fact that Black mothers are dying at three or four times the rate of white mothers? The answers are yes and yes, plus more. Advocates, legislators, health providers, and health care experts alike find themselves scrambling for a solution.

One pie

DC set to receive millions to speed up removal of lead-based paint, lead pipes

Thanks to the passage of the infrastructure bill and the American Rescue Plan, the District is set to receive millions in federal funding with the goal of completely removing lead pipes from its infrastructure by 2030.

However, both the city and advocates say the available money falls far short of what is needed to address the full amount of lead pipes and lead-based paint found in properties and public space across DC.

Exposure to lead causes a variety of health consequences, and properties w

Do I Belong Here?

Ninette Shenouda, PhD, had some awkward moments during her time in graduate school. She quietly examined the achievements of her fellow classmates and had a feeling that she just didn’t belong.

“It started as soon as I got to grad school,” she says. “All of a sudden, you’re in an environment with all these very intelligent people, mentors and colleagues. And there were several different factors that gave me the feeling that somehow I snuck through the cracks. Like somehow they must have made a

How a 2005 law puts unhoused, first-time expectant mothers in uncomfortable spaces

Taylar Nuevelle is not a social worker. She is not a representative working on behalf of a government agency. She is not a wealthy philanthropist feeling charitable. She’s a disrupter with a very specific cause: helping unhoused women get back on their feet. Nuevelle runs Who Speaks for Me?, a DC-based advocacy nonprofit organization.

On many Saturday afternoons, you can find Nuevelle and a couple of dedicated volunteers outside of the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter, located in Ward 6 just behi

Vital signs: Checking in on DC’s maternal health care crisis

Nandi Barton faced many closed doors during and after her pregnancy. Her experience was stressful from beginning to end. “I was alone and depressed,” she siad.

During her pregnancy, Nandi gained over 100 pounds, which led to breathing problems. She was placed on bedrest for several weeks. At one point, she tried going to the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center in Northeast, which provides emergency shelter. They told her that her mother couldn’t put her out without 30 days’ notice, and the

Three Men Who Have Lost Loved Ones Have Ideas About Making D.C. Safer

Six days into 2020, D.C. is facing four homicides. In 2019 the city saw its highest homicide count in a decade.

City Paper sat down with three men who are familiar with violence and funerals and asked them to give the data some context. They have ideas about why violence is increasing and what the District needs to do to have it decrease.

“The first friend I lost to violence was shot in the head standing right next to me in Southwest,” says Julius Terry. “I stopped going to the funerals after

The Collapse of the DC Cancer Consortium Left Gaps in D.C.'s Cancer Care Network

One morning in June 2009, Stephen Jefferson noticed that he couldn’t tie his shoes. His right foot and leg were swollen. He went straight to his cardiologist, who had very few answers and only one remedy: fluid pills. “The doctor told me that if it doesn’t get any better that I should go to the emergency room.” By Saturday the swelling hadn’t gone down, and after a painful shoe shopping trip with his son, Jefferson headed to Providence Hospital. “My doctor ordered a series of CAT scans. The nurs

United Medical Center Quietly Closes Its Cancer Clinic

A hospital partnership that has provided residents in Wards 7 and 8 with basic cancer care will end in approximately 90 days, leaving people east of the Anacostia River with a dearth of options for oncology services in their neighborhood.

In 2013, Sibley Memorial Hospital submitted an application for a certificate of need for a Proton Therapy Center at their facility in Northwest D.C. The center was projected to cost nearly $157 million. One of the terms for gaining approval for their certifica

Supporting Women Reentering the Community

Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” For many returning citizens coming home from prison, parole is that opportunity for renewal. But returning women citizens face greater, more nuanced challenges. Who addresses their needs?

The W.I.R.E. (Women Involved in Reentry Efforts) is a nonprofit organization for women and by women, working to help them succeed in spite of their criminal past.

LaShonia’s Avowal

For LaShonia Thompson-E

As Homicides Continue to Rise in D.C., Parents of Gun Violence Victims Reflect on Their Open Wounds

Are you still a mother if your child passes away? What if you lose a child and just so happen to be engaged in a casual conversation with a stranger who offhandedly asks, “So, how many children do you have?” How do you answer that? In the wake of a homicide, maintaining your composure while facing questions like these could be the hardest part of your existence.

The year 2018 ended with 160 homicides on the books in D.C.—a 38 percent increase from the previous year. In the first 15 days of 2019

The Nation Is Experiencing an Opioid Crisis. The District's Has Endured Since the 1960s.

Tuesday nights at the Chateau Remix are all the way live. The sound of go-go music pumping through the speakers is distinct and so D.C. It looks and feels like a throwback basement party, but it’s a mid-week jam for adults with special needs who are there to release some energy. In the DJ booth, Cedric Carter is spinning the records that keep everyone shaking to the beat on the dance floor. As the last song winds down and the attendees file out the front door with their helpers, Carter and anoth

Recognizing the Unsung Male Caregiver

“It’s one thing when you’re already a parent but it’s another to be a parent of someone who raised you,” says Terence Peete, reflecting on what life has been like while caring for his mother over the past couple of years. Daisy, 87, is in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s.

Peete says the signs of trouble came up one by one. “Prior to her official diagnosis, I had started paying her bills, as she wasn’t able to keep track of her debit card. She started repeating stories that she said. She would