1. Rohan, Annie J. PhD, RN, FAANP, FAAN
  2. Simpson, Kathleen Rice PhD, RNC, CNS-BC, FAAN

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated health, health care, emotional, stressful, and economic impacts, has challenged us personally and professionally. Life as we knew it has irrevocably changed. Nurses, midwives, physicians, and other caregivers have courageously cared for childbearing women with COVID-19 and those with unknown status, putting their lives and their families at risk should they contract the virus. Average age of nurses in the United States is 51 (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2020), so many are in high-risk groups. Childbearing women and their partners are more likely to be asymptomatic due to their age. Their nursing care is a balance between respect, support, and encouragement while making every effort to avoid viral transmission and keep mother and baby safe. Much of outpatient perinatal care has become virtual. Support persons during labor and birth are limited. Hospital length of stay postpartum has been abbreviated. Help for newborn care from family members, including grandmothers, has not been available. New families have had to make do on their own without the help and support they planned. Many of these young families are experiencing job loss due to the pandemic, making new parenthood even more stressful.


And those are the simple challenges. The police killing of a Minneapolis Black man, George Floyd, on May 25th, marked a breaking point in the recognition of systematic racism and discrimination in our country. At MCN, and consistent with health care professions, we recognize racism as a public health crisis affecting the mental, spiritual, economic, and physical health of Black people. We join the American Nurses Association (ANA, 2020), and nurses everywhere against racism, discrimination, and health care disparities affecting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.


We have watched Black mothers prepare us for this day. Without protest, and in many cases without adequate resources, Black mothers have preserved their rich Black heritage and culture in their homes and in their lives so that it remains healthy and distinct for their children. We stand with you. We are in awe of you when you bravely check "Black" on your baby's birth certificate...even if you are in a biracial relationship where "white" would be just as accurate; because you know what it has meant to be labeled Black in America. And you know Black women in the United States are at much greater risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes due to long-standing, systematic racism embedded in our health care system and our society.


Nurses provide the majority of hands-on bedside care. They can make sure that care is respectful, encouraging, supportive, and affirming. Nurses in leadership positions can advocate for institutional changes and public health policies that promote the health and wellbeing of Black families. There is no place in a caregiving profession like nursing for racism.


We join with ANA in pledging the following to be our responsibility (2020, p. 1). "Oppose and address all forms of racism and discrimination. Condemn brutality by law enforcement and all acts of violence. With nurses everywhere, educate, advocate, and collaborate to end systemic racism, especially within nursing. Advance institutional and legislative policies that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice for all. Advocate for ending health inequities in communities and health care systems that stem from systemic racism. Promote deliberate and respectful dialogue, effective listening and commitment to change as a means to improve the health of all individuals and the communities where they live and work." ANA's Resolution on Racial Justice directive is clear: "Collectively we must emerge from silence and speak with one strong voice as leaders and role models of compassion and empathy for our patients, families, communities, and most importantly, toward one another" (ANA, p. 1).




American Nurses Association. (2020). Resolution on racial justice for communities of color.[Context Link]


National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2020). 2017 National Nursing Workforce Study.[Context Link]