Developing a Maternal Health Strategic Plan for North Carolina

Blog | August 11, 2020


Written by James Coleman


In June of 2020, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) kicked off its Task Force on Maternal Health. Convened in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Women’s and Children’s Health Section, the task force’s goal is to identify evidence-based solutions to best improve maternal health outcomes in North Carolina and develop a Maternal Health Strategic Plan for the state. The task force will also build upon the work of the NCIOM Perinatal Systems of Care Task Force and will align with the state’s Perinatal Health Strategic and Early Childhood Action Plans.


The task force is co-chaired by Shannon Dowler, MD, chief medical officer of North Carolina Medicaid; Carolyn L. Harraway-Smith, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cone Health Women’s Hospital; and Ste’Keira Shepperson, owner/doula at Triangle Doulas of Color. Members of the task force include more than 60 experts across many areas relevant to maternal health, such as health care providers (nurse-midwives, OB/GYNs, and family physicians), doulas, persons with lived experience, private and public payers, representatives from health professional and trade associations, community advocates, and researchers.


As of the publication of this blog post, the NCIOM Maternal Health Task Force has met twice virtually.  During the first two meetings, task force members received a series of presentations about completed or ongoing statewide work that is directly related to maternal health or touches upon it. Presentations have included an overview of recommendations from the NCIOM Perinatal System of Care Task Force; North Carolina Pregnancy & Continuity of Care During COVID-19 Task Force;  the North Carolina Mortality Review Committee; goals and strategies from the State’s Perinatal Strategic and Early Childhood Action Plans; the work of the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force Perinatal Health Committee; and the 4th Trimester Project.


The task force plans to meet three more times during 2020, and long-term it is anticipated that the course of work of the task force will take place during a five-year period.


For more information about the task force work, meeting dates, and proceedings, please visit its webpage at