WOMEN'S HEALTH BLOG July 2019
Words from Kimiyo Harris Williams, M.D.
From the lens of a wife, mother, friend, physician, and advocate, the current state of women’s health in Louisiana is an urgent matter. One health concern that is strikingly alarming is the increased rate of maternal mortality. During the period of 2011-2016, the Louisiana Maternal Mortality Review documents that there were 12.4 deaths per 100,000 births in Louisiana. This distressing fact urges the community to advocate for increased awareness regarding these poor maternal outcomes. Expecting mothers, their families, and the medical community should remain abreast regarding the risk factors related to poor maternal outcomes. Moreover, resources need to be available for high risk expecting moms to improve the overall health of our community.
I remember the evening so vividly. It was a fairly clear Friday night. I was in the football stadium with my husband enjoying my sons’ high school football game. The band was playing. The fans were cheering so I couldn’t hear my text message alert. I happened to look down at my phone and noticed that I received a text message from a friend who had a medical question about her nine-month-old daughter. We texted back and forth about the issue and the closing text read, “We are expecting.” I was very happy for her and her husband. This would be her third child. Her pregnancy was uneventful and her baby boy was born full term. However, two days after the delivery she was found unresponsive in her hospital room. Despite around the clock medical care and many prayers, she did not make it home to care for her new baby boy and her other children. We still don’t have any answers about the cause of her death.
Advocating for and educating each other about health and wellness will help to eliminate these disparities and facilitate better health outcomes. We are our sister’s keeper.
As I look into her children’s’ eyes, I am reminded of her beautiful spirit. She was so happy and excited to be carrying this life inside that God created. She had so many plans for her children and her family. Her children are too young to understand, but growing up without a mother is nothing a child should have to endure.
With a passion to work to decrease health disparities and a desire to improve health care outcomes, my personal and professional mission is to bring awareness to the disheartening statistics as it relates to maternal mortality in Louisiana. The Louisiana Maternal Mortality Review Report 2011-2016 reports that the maternal mortality increased at a greater rate than that of the United States. It also states that the most common causes of maternal mortality are associated with hemorrhage, cardiomyopathy and cardiovascular disease. Other alarming factors according to this Report note that 45% of the pregnancy-related deaths were determined to be preventable and African American women were four times more likely to experience maternal death than Caucasian women. Furthermore, American’s Health Rankings of the United Health Foundation reports that Louisiana ranks 47th in the country for maternal deaths.
These are unacceptable outcomes in this era of modern medicine. As health care providers, we have to become more informed and knowledgeable about these statistics and maternal risk factors. Being committed to improving health care practices in an effort to reduce the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths is paramount. The Louisiana Maternal Mortality Review Report 2011-2016 developed recommendations for improvement that have already been implemented. The goals are to increase support for the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review, institute quality improvement measures, reduce missed opportunities for preventive care in the ER, increase access to reproductive and mental health, and address inequalities as it relates to social, economic, and environmental opportunities.
Biomedical research is an important avenue fueling the development of new treatment options to improve maternal health care outcomes. Biomedical research investigates specific diseases and treatments to establish evidence-based medicine. The Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF) Research Matters: Creating Possibilities to Achieve Health and Wellness is at the forefront in its awareness campaign, awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) All of Us Research Program. The Program’s object is to close the gap as it relates to underrepresented communities and their participation in clinical trails. With the alarming facts related to the high incidence of African American maternal death coupled with the disproportionate African American participants in clinical trials, the All of Us Research Program plans to help improve health care outcomes now and for future generations.
We as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends have to make it a point to be actively involved in our own health care. I encourage all women to be informed regarding your health. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Communicate any and all symptoms to your provider. Make sure your concerns are addressed.
We must continue to advocate for the women we love – our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, nieces and friends. Advocating for and educating each other about health and wellness will help to eliminate these disparities and facilitate better health outcomes. We are our sister’s keeper. Strong, courageous and together is how we should stand.
-Kimiyo Harris Williams, M.D.
Kimiyo Harris Williams, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Personally, Dr. Kimiyo Harris Williams cherishes being a wife, mother of two boys, stepmother of three and grandmother of three. Dr. Williams truly has a fulfilling life. She takes time to embrace and cultivate relationships both personally and professionally. Her personal mission is “Embracing Professionalism with Compassion.”
Dr. Kimiyo Harris Williams, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana is Board Certified by The American Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has been practicing medicine for 20 years. As a proud alumni and supporter of Xavier University of Louisiana, she remains committed to giving back to her undergraduate alma mater. Dr. Williams completed her medical education at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans. As a result of her love and passion to advocate for children, Dr. Williams trained to become a pediatrician at LSU Health Sciences Center / Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.
Upon completing the pediatric residency training program at LSU Health Sciences Center, Dr. Williams earned a position as an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA. During her tenure at Mercer University School of Medicine, she trained and supervised medical students and residents of the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Family Practice Residency Program in addition to providing care for her pediatric patients. Dr. Williams’ medical career is not limited to patient care.
Dedicated to continued advances in medicine, she has worked in the medical research arena at LSU School of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. She is cited as co-author, along with the principle investigators, on several articles that have been published in the American Journal of Nephrology, 1999; American Society of Nephrology, 1994; American Review of Respiratory Disease and Clinical Research 1991. In addition, she has presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference and the Louisiana State University Department of Medicine Research Day. She was awarded an academic scholarship from the LSU School of Medicine; National Medical Fellowships, Inc. Award and the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Summer Intramural Research Training Award Fellowship.
As an entrepreneur, Dr. Williams owned and operated a pediatric practice with her partner for over 12 years. She takes joy in caring for her patients from birth to 17 years of age and is on staff at Physicians Medical Center of Houma and Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.
Her professional passion for patient wellness and medical advances are paralleled by her social passion to serve in the community. She is an active member of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc (DST). As a dedicated member, she is able to exercise her professional and personal passion to serve the community. Dr. Williams volunteers with multiple programs under the Health and Wellness Committee. Some of the most recent outreach projects include, but are not limited too, Reds on the Run 5K Run /Walk and Health Summit, W.I.S.E. Pearls, and the Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF) Research Matters Program. Serving as the local lead coordinator for the DREF All of Us Research Program, Dr. Williams was able to exercise her passion for wellness and empower the community to achieve better health. As a result of her exceptional work, Dr. Williams was offered a position to continue to work closely with the DREF Research Matters Program during their year two and three award periods. Dr. Williams has been the Keynote Speaker at the Louisiana Women’s Day and Retreat at the Louisiana State Capitol in the Governor’s Press Conference Room. She has also had several other speaking engagements regarding Research Matters.
Dr. Williams’ passion for advocating against health disparities is further exemplified by her position as a Board Member of the Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE). She regularly participates with the organization to bring awareness to the lawmakers, the healthcare industry, and the community about the disparities that exist in health care and the access to health care in Louisiana.
In addition to serving her community via DST, DREF and the LCHE Board, Dr. Williams also generously shares her leadership skills with her local church and church family. She and her husband served as Pastors of the marriage ministry for six years. Under their leadership, many marriages were blessed and experienced tremendous growth. One exceptional accomplishment during their time as Pastors of the Marriage Ministry, along with a team of leaders from sister churches, was the organization and facilitation of two wonderful Marriage Ministry Retreats in Pensacola and Destin, Florida. There were five churches represented with over 200 people in attendance at each retreat. Dr. Williams and her husband presently serve as Directors of Ministry at their local church. This role oversees all of the ministries in church. Additionally, Dr. Williams has also volunteered with the Beacon Light of Houma Light Ten Program, a mentoring program with a local elementary school.
As CEO of K.H. Williams Enterprises, Inc., Dr. Williams exercises leadership, organization, financial fortitude and vision in her personal mentoring organization. K. H. Williams Enterprises, Inc. was created out of a desire to mentor young women to reach their destiny. Dr. Williams regularly reaches out to young women to help guide them on their life’s journey.
Dr. Williams is committed to God and her family. She greatly values friendship and is dedicated to continuing to serve the community.
DREF Research Matters
The Delta Research and Educational Foundation (DREF), in collaboration with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (DST) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), is conducting a national health initiative entitled “Research Matters: Creating Possibilities to Achieve Health and Wellness for All of Us.” The initiative is made possible by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) All of Us Research Program.
Who We Are
DREF was selected as one of the four initial community partners to support the NIH in educating diverse communities on the critical need to participate in biomedical research. DREF, and its collaborative partners, is charged with educating and encouraging African Americans to be a part of the solution for achieving increased health and wellness for their families. The ultimate objective is to enroll African Americans in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) national registry, creating a database that significantly includes their engagement as potential participants for clinical trials. The DREF community engagement plan includes outreach at events and communication through mass media, social media and direct solicitation to promote the need for inclusive research to reduce health disparities affecting African Americans.
The NIH has identified twelve geographic areas of focus, thus the Research Matters Community Engagement Plan is being conducted in the following designated cities and their surrounding areas: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Birmingham, Alabama; Columbia, South Carolina; Durham, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; Houston, Texas; Memphis; Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento, California. Our focus is not limited to these areas. We are engaging the African American community in cities across the country.