LifestyleHealth and Fitness


March of Dimes 2020 report: half of Ohio’s counties don’t have adequate access to healthcare for women and babies

Posted at 3:57 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 15:57:17-04

CLEVELAND — The March of Dimes just released its 2020 report “Nowhere to Go: Maternity Care Deserts Across the U.S” and it’s shining a light on just how tough it is to receive proper healthcare in the United States for women and their babies.

The report said in the United States, around 7 million women of childbearing age live in counties that are "maternity care deserts" or have very limited access to maternity care.

“There is no access to a hospital that offers special services, no OBGYN or certified nurse-midwife, and no birth center. We consider those maternity care deserts,” said Stacey D. Stewart, the president of March of Dimes.

Stewart said the report highlights the need for change in America before we have a crisis on our hands.

“We are the only country where our rates of maternal death, as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, have been increasing among all the highly industrialized countries,” she said.

Digging a bit deeper into the numbers reveals:

More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in maternity care deserts (1,095 counties) that have no hospital offering obstetric care, no birth center and no obstetric provider.

An additional 4.8 million women of childbearing age live in counties with limited access to maternity care.

According to the March of Dimes, that’s around 500,000 babies in the United States at serious risk of health complications or death because of a lack of access to proper care.

More than one-third of those women are women of color.

Stewart said in the wake of COVID-19, those numbers could worsen because more women are putting off preventative care, and birthing centers may close due to the financial burden of the pandemic.

“This is really just shining a light on the gaps in the system. The fact that we don’t have a public healthcare system in our country that meets the needs of all women is really a grave concern,” she said.

In Ohio, nearly half of the state’s counties lack basic maternal care.

In Northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Medina and Stark Counties had adequate access to care.

Ashtabula and Huron County had limited access.

Carroll County is considered a maternity care desert.

As far as hospitals go, Cuyahoga County was the best in Northeast Ohio with five or more hospitals and birthing centers, but Medina and Carroll counties don’t have any.

To look at how your county did, check out the full report here.

Stewart said there's a variety of changes government officials and community members could make to fix the crisis, including expanding Medicaid, providing access to midwives and doulas, and creating paid family leave.