Announcement, Press Release

GreenLight Twin Cities Invests in Irth to Address Maternal Health Disparities

Sep 26, 2023

Twin Cities

Bringing a digital platform to capture and share patient experiences to improve maternal health outcomes for Black and brown birthing people

TWIN CITIES, MN – September 26, 2023 – GreenLight Fund Twin Cities announces a multi-year investment in Irth by Narrative Nation to address the increasing maternal health and mortality disparities that exist for Black and brown birthing people. Irth (as in Birth, but we dropped the B for bias), a technology-based platform, enables Black and brown birthing people, doulas and family members to leave prenatal, birthing, postpartum and pediatric reviews of healthcare providers and institutions on the app. These qualitative experiences are turned into data and strategic improvement plans for hospitals while driving transparency and community accountability within healthcare systems.

“In Minnesota, the maternal mortality crisis continues to disproportionately impact Black and brown birthing people. Black women die three times more often than their white counterparts,” said Simone Hardeman-Jones, GreenLight Fund Twin Cities Executive Director. “Irth, an innovative and community-centered program, fits incredibly well with what we heard to be a priority need in the Twin Cities, both to ensure all are treated with dignity and respect during their birthing experience and to shift the status quo.”

In partnership with leaders and residents across the community, GreenLight Fund Twin Cities led a comprehensive process, conducting research and holding community conversations to identify the need for a program that disrupts the current status of Black maternal health through a community-centered approach. The Irth App, selected because of its unique approach to addressing negative maternal health outcomes, centers community experiences to create change. In addition to individuals’ submitting reviews and learning from others, Irth partners with local hospitals to take action based on patient feedback. Hospital partners work to receive the Irth Badge of Approval indicating the hospital is a safe place for Black and brown birthing people to give birth.

Kimberly Seals Allers, Executive Director of Narrative Nation and founder of Irth began her work in New York City and the creation of Irth was inspired by her own birth experience. “Everyone deserves an empowered birth experience where they are honored and respected for who they are. I created the Irth app to ensure that is the reality for all Black and brown birthing people. In partnership with GreenLight and so many other important community partners, I am excited to expand our reach to the Twin Cities.”

Hennepin Healthcare, which runs Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a hospital seeing 4,000 patients a day with 1,600 births a year and a patient-base that is over 70% Black and brown, has committed to being Irth’s first hospital partner in the Twin Cities. As a first step, Hennepin Healthcare will create a working group which will utilize anonymized qualitative and quantitative patient reviews on their care experiences with the hospital, including perceived experiences of racism, to address negative feedback with tangible actions, increasing positive experiences of care for patients of color.

“I am proud that Hennepin Healthcare is the very first hospital system to partner with Irth,” said Dr. Nneka Sederstrom, Chief Health Equity Officer at Hennepin Healthcare. “As the Twin Cities’ largest safety-net hospital system, it is our duty to act with a sense of urgency in response to the Black maternal health crisis. We are committed to actively changing the systems and structures that perpetuate racism in our healthcare system and the opportunity to partner with Irth and GreenLight Twin Cities will help us move in that direction.”

Minnesota is the fourth state to implement Irth, building on Irth’s partnerships in California, Pennsylvania and Michigan as well as their perinatal quality collaborative work in New York City where Irth is providing robust patient experience data to over 30 hospitals. Over the next four years in the Twin Cities with support from GreenLight, a local leader and a team of 17 local Irth Doula-Ambassadors, Irth will gather 2,000 patient reviews and develop partnerships with three additional local hospitals. This will lead to a significant decrease in harmful hospital practices and improved maternal healthcare outcomes for Black and brown patients.

Irth is GreenLight Twin Cities second portfolio organization investment joining Let Everyone Advance with Dignity (LEAD), a public health approach to community safety.