by Marilyn Sherrill, RN, MBA, CNOR, CPHQ
Knowledge Transfer Director

The month of May, named after Maia, the goddess of fertility – along with the goddess of spring and growth – is the perfect time to remind the women we love how important it is to stay healthy – and not just because we celebrate Mother’s Day. The month is chock full of female-friendly observances designed to ensure that women keep their health top of mind.   

My mother was 37 years old when I was born. As a young child, I noticed how much older she was than my friends’ mothers. I worried I would miss out on a long mother-daughter relationship because of her age. Thankfully, my childhood assumption was wrong.  

Life expectancy data has consistently shown that women live longer than men and those extra years tend to be healthy ones. Some of this can be attributed to the great strides that have been made in health care, such as life-saving advances in the treatment of breast cancer and a dramatic increase in awareness of women and heart disease. But there are still areas we can improve upon, including pregnancy-related deaths, depression and stroke.

Pregnancy-related deaths

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation with a rising maternal mortality rate; noting a 26% increase between 2000 and 2014.

Given the continued importance of managing obstetric patients with serious illnesses, this year Vizient launched a two-part maternal mortality performance improvement collaborative focused on leading practices, protocols and tools to manage patients diagnosed with postpartum hemorrhage, preeclampsia or eclampsia. There are 31 member hospitals participating and preliminary results are expected in October of this year.

The Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care has developed patient safety bundles and tools to aid organizations in reducing care variation and improving outcomes for this patient population. In partnership with the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, they developed an obstetric hemorrhage bundle, the components of which the collaborative participants were encouraged to fully embed within their organization’s practices.


While most women survive childbirth, they also can be vulnerable to developing postpartum depression. The dramatic hormonal and physical changes, coupled with the responsibility of caring for a new infant, can be daunting.

In general, depression is more common among women than men, likely due to certain biological, hormonal, and social factors that are unique to women. Women suffering from depression may experience symptoms from persistent sadness and feelings of helplessness, guilt or worthlessness, to appetite changes and even thoughts of death or suicide, but it’s important to remember that depression affects everyone differently.

Depression is a medical condition that can and should be treated. The stigma for treating mental health is a barrier you can help break down and that begins by getting help. Start by talking to your doctor or health care provider about your symptoms. Consider building a support system of trusted family members and friends who understand your struggles and who can be your cheerleaders as you work through your treatment options.


According to the CDC, approximately 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year, and it's the fourth leading cause of death for women. The CDC offers several health programs to educate the public on stroke risks, prevention and treatment.

Advancements in technology and emerging care delivery models have contributed to the evolution of stroke care in the past several years. Leveraging the American Heart Association’s system-of-care framework to identify opportunities and areas of focus, Vizient is launching a two-part collaborative this month on standardizing stroke care. Part one will focus on implementing leading strategies to reduce variations in transitions of care for stroke patients. Part two will take a systemwide look at opportunities to standardize processes and workflows, as well as actionable interventions to enhance continuity models.  

To learn more about the Vizient collaborative projects, contact us today.

This year Mother’s Day is May 12 and National Women’s Check-Up Day is May 14. Encourage your patients to pencil in brunch with mom (or any of the women in their lives) and remind her to schedule her wellness exam. What better way to say 'I love you' than by helping her care for her health?

On a final note, my mother is currently 97 years old. I’ve been blessed to have her for so long. She's been a great example of living a healthy life. It’s time for all women to lead the charge and be good stewards of the bodies we've been given, not just for ourselves but also for those who love us. Have a wonderful May!

May: National Stroke Awareness Month

May 13-19: National Women’s Health Week

For other national women’s health observance days, like National Women's Health and Fitness Day on Sept. 27, visit:

About the author. Marilyn Sherrill is a knowledge transfer director and works with the Vizient PI Collaboratives Program. She provides research on various clinical topics to support the case for change, while developing the resources to share the work performed by members who participate in the various PI collaborative projects. Sherrill previously served as a collaborative advisor for the PI Collaboratives Program and also as a senior consultant on the Vizient advisory services team.

Published: May 9, 2019