Each summer, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation welcomes a cohort of interns to provide their unique expertise, skills, and perspective on a number of projects and initiatives. This summer, three interns have been assisting with WHAMglobal: Abisola Olaniyan, Eva Rosen, and Janelle DeBaldo. We’d like to introduce you to the WHAMglobal interns in this post!
I am Abisola Olaniyan, a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. I am a medical doctor from Lagos state, Nigeria and have a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Global Health.
My name is Eva Rosen and I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan majoring in Organizational Studies with a focus in Healthcare and Public Health. Organizational Studies is a multi-disciplinary major that draws from economics, psychology and sociology to provide a framework and tangible skills to understand how organizations function and how the people in them can perform at the highest level. I am from Pittsburgh and am enjoying the opportunity to work at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and spend the summer in my hometown.
My name is Janelle DeBaldo and I grew up north of Pittsburgh in Fox Chapel. I am a student at the University of Dayton, studying communication management with a concentration in healthcare. I spent my spring semester of 2016 studying abroad in Ireland, attending Maynooth University. I am graduating in December 2018, and plan to go on to graduate school for a joint degree in healthcare administration and business administration.
All of interns had a chance to give us more background on why they’re interested in women’s health:
Abisola: My main interest is in improving maternal and child health outcomes and reducing disparities that exist in access to these services and the quality of care received. My interest started right from childhood growing up with sad tales of preventable deaths of mothers and children, which abounded in my community. This experience is also reflected at a National level in my country as evidenced by Nigeria having one of the highest maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates.
My interest in the subject matter was further reinforced in medical school, particularly during my rotation through the Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics Departments. I witnessed morbidities and mortalities in pregnant women and children that were highly preventable if we had the appropriate policies and interventions in place. I have also had the first-hand experience of the struggle faced by an average Nigerian mother seeking affordable primary healthcare for herself and her child, both as a patient and a physician. I hope to change this narrative not just for my country but globally, by being part of the knowledge capital and social consciousness tasked with building a more resilient and inclusive health system.
Eva: While I have always had an interest in women’s health, I became particularly interested in this issue when studying abroad in Australia last semester. I had the opportunity to join the WHAMglobal team who were in Sydney on a study tour. The group participated in meetings with leaders and experts in women’s health as Australia is known for its impressive women’s health services. I learned a great deal through these visits and realized how much the United States can gain from understanding how other countries are able to offer safe, efficient, and cost-effective women’s health services.
Living in Australia and learning about their expansive women’s health services inspired me to want to work toward accomplishing something similar in the United States. The experience also motivated me to think deeply and creatively about women’s health issues particularly how we might address the staggering rates of maternal mortality in the United States. I am committed to understanding and examining why the United States has among the highest rates of maternal mortality of all developed countries with outcomes significantly worse for African American women, while other countries’ maternal mortality rates decline. It is my desire to be involved in work that addresses this disparity.
Janelle: Being a female myself, I think it is important to be knowledgeable about women’s health for many reasons. Women experience unique health challenges throughout their lives. It is especially a great time to be a female in society today because women all around the world are standing up for what they believe in, becoming more respected and empowering others to do the same. I am interested in women’s health because women have a huge influence within the healthcare system and women make up the majority of the workforce in healthcare. I am interested in a variety of areas within women’s health, such as unequal pay amongst women and men in healthcare, how to help those of lower incomes receive proper quality healthcare, and women’s healthcare laws.
Throughout the summer, the interns have worked on a number of projects, including compiling a list of best practices for maternal mortality review committees, and building an asset map of resources for pregnant women in Allegheny County. Here are the interns' perspectives on what they have learned from these projects:
Abisola: These projects have provided me with an opportunity to learn more about the US healthcare system and the causes of the rising maternal morbidities and mortalities and the racial disparities in these indicators. I have also learned best practices implemented by other countries to improve the health outcomes of women and children. I look forward to being part of the team that works on adopting and implementing these best practices globally.
Eva: The mapping process has helped me discover a personal interest in examining systems and their role in impacting health outcomes. While our map shows the “ideal” path of a pregnant woman, it also highlights the services that are not covered by Medicaid. There is clearly much more to evaluate and research in order to understand how and why systems and other factors contribute to the staggering rates of maternal mortality in the U.S. I look forward to examining this throughout my time at JHF as well as into the future. I have enjoyed learning more about the Foundation and having the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field who are contributing to projects on improving healthcare. Working at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation has given me an opportunity to explore how organizations and systems can create meaningful change.
Janelle: Developing the asset map and working with a team has provided the opportunity to brainstorm the many different ideas, learn from others since we all have different backgrounds, and use each other’s skills to be more productive. We researched healthcare services such as ob/gyn’s, midwives, doulas, pediatricians, mental health services, etc., and created a spreadsheet showing what forms of payment each place take (whether they accept Medicaid or not). This map helped find many overlaps between services and places that refer to each other. We were able to present our asset map and findings to board members and some of the staff at JHF, which was a great opportunity to experience. We received helpful feedback to move forward with our research and improve the asset map.
I am also helping WHAMglobal with their social media platforms, posting relevant and interesting articles, facts and news about women’s health. I am learning a lot of information just by reading these articles and all of it is fascinating to read. How to improve maternal mortality in the United States and around the world is the focus of many projects for WHAMglobal. I did not know much about maternal mortality until working with WHAMglobal, but I hope to keep continuing to learn more about it and find out more ways to improve the mortality rates. I am interested to see what projects I have next to work on and create with the WHAMglobal team.