Top Physician Experts to Convene First-Ever Maternal Health Congress to Address Maternal Deaths Crisis

March. 20, 2018


  • WHAT: More than 70 top obstetrician-gynecologists, family physicians, and other physicians and health experts from across Texas will convene the state’s first-ever Texas Medical Association (TMA) Maternal Health Congress in Austin on Saturday. Their goal is to address the alarming rate of women dying after childbirth and seek solutions to the complex issue.
    Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate (women dying during or after childbirth) in the U.S., and our state’s death rates have nearly doubled in recent years. Maternal death rates in the U.S. have been increasing, even as the rate of women dying during or after childbirth is decreasing in most developed countries.
    Physician leaders and other health experts at the conference will discuss maternal death and severe illness in Texas, analyzing Texas’ death rate among pregnant and postpartum women. They will explore myriad contributing factors associated with women dying prematurely during pregnancy and/or up to one year after giving birth. These include access to prenatal care and management of chronic health issues, and health disparities preventing that access; cardiac events, hypertension/eclampsia, and hemorrhage; substance abuse; tobacco use; obesity; postpartum depression; and suicide.  
    The physicians’ ultimate mission is to recommend legislative initiatives and other policy changes to quash this troubling public health threat.    
    “We physicians see the statistics, and in some cases these tragic, preventable deaths occur among our own patients,” said Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, TMA president. “We decided who besides the doctors should stand up and say, ‘This is unacceptable, we must do something to reverse this trend?’ We physicians must lead the charge toward identifying the problems and recommending solutions, to ensure more mothers deliver their babies and live healthy motherhoods.”  
  •  WHEN: THIS Saturday, March 24, 10 am-1 pm (See schedule below.) 
  •  WHERE: TMA Building, Thompson Auditorium, First Floor, 401 W. 15th St., Austin 


10 am


-Carlos J. Cardenas, MD – president, TMA 

Review Agenda and Introductions

-David Lakey, MD – chair, TMA Council on Science and Public Health; vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer, The University of Texas System 


10:15 am

Overview of Texas Maternal Health Issues

-John Hellerstedt, MD – commissioner, Texas Department of State Health Services 

-Lisa Hollier, MD – chair, Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force; professor and medical director, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston 


11 am

Substance Use Prevention and Treatment

-Amy Young, MD – professor, The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School 

-Carlos Tirado, MD – clinical associate professor, The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School 


11:45 am

Access to Care and Health Disparities

-Ryan Van Ramshorst, MD – chair, TMA Select Committee on Medicaid, CHIP, and the Uninsured 

-Carla Ortique, MD – vice chair, Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force; Baylor College of Medicine


12:15 pm

Maternal Health Quality Initiatives — ACOG Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health

-Jeanne Mahoney, RN, BSN – AIM Program senior director, American College of Obstetricians and



1 pm

(Adjourn to Executive Session of the Maternal Health Congress)


Reporters, please park in visitor parking on the second level of the TMA garage. (Enter through the San Antonio St. entrance.) Call or ask for Brent Annear or Marcus Cooper upon arrival, and we will help you find the room and arrange any interviews you might need.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 51,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org

Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org

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Last Updated On

March 20, 2018

Originally Published On

March 20, 2018