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Protesters march to area hospitals against racial healthcare inequality

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MADISON (WKOW) -- After a week of protests, the march Saturday had a bit of a different tone than most of the protests over the past week.

While the overall message of equality, ending racism and ending police brutality was there, the main focus was on ending healthcare inequality for people of color.

The march was organized by Harambee Village Doulas. The group was trying to raise awareness of the high black infant mortality rate in the state.

According to a CDC report from 2018, Wisconsin has the highest mortality rate for that group in the nation, at 14 percent.

For black families, it is double the state average for infant mortality, which is around 6 percent.

They took their march from downtown to two area hospitals, Meriter and SSM Health Saint Mary's, where the protesters were greeted by nurses and hospital administrators ready to listen to them and address their concerns.

Dr. Jasmine Zapata was among the crowd with her daughter, and was nearly brought to tears hearing so many mothers share the same story she lived through when she almost lost her daughter in childbirth.

"To see now this army walking back fighting, saying black moms matter, black babies matter, it just meant so much to me and it was actually a healing experience," she said.

Protesters directed many concerns at Saint Mary's Hospital president Kyle Nondorf and he said improving access to prenatal care will be a helpful start.

"Honestly for us to go out and provide that care in the community, that's an important thing that I took out of today: getting outside of our walls, going out into the community and providing a better job providing that care," Nondorf said.

Many of the speakers had concerns with Saint Mary's specifically.

Nondorf says that there hasn't been a single infant death since he started six months ago.

Despite that he says they will eagerly work with march organizers to address their concerns and improve the circumstances that lead to the disparities.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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