Karen Florio, DO, MPH, Saint Luke’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, has been elected the Chair of Missouri’s Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) Board for a two-year term.  

PAMR is a program created by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Division of Community and Public Health. It analyzes all maternal deaths in the state that occur during pregnancy or within one year of the end of a pregnancy. The board evaluates all pregnancy-related deaths in the state for the year to determine the cause of death and if there was an opportunity for prevention.

For the past two years, Florio has been serving as the Vice Chair of the PAMR Board.  She officially assumed the role of Board Chair on January 1, 2022.

“Our last Chair, Dan Jackson from Saint Louis, was phenomenal,” said Florio. “He helped reorganize our PAMR Board so that it is now one of the best in the country. My role will be not only to continue that amazing work that he has done but distribute that information.”

Florio will work directly with the DHSS and CDC on analyzing the data and developing reports not only for the state, but for the CDC, making sure those reports are distributed. This helps bridge the gap between the PAMR Board and the Learning and Action Network, a perinatal quality collaborative that takes the recommendations from the PAMR Board and implements them as public health programs.

“My goal for the next two years is to raise awareness of the problem of pregnancy-related mortality in Missouri and help drive policies surrounding pregnancy insurance coverage and maternal coverage in the state,” said Florio.

“It is a very humbling and honoring experience to be involved with the evaluation of women who lost their lives just trying to become mothers,” said Florio.  “I have to pause every meeting to reflect on the lives lost and how they could have been prevented. It is important to give respect and honor the women we are talking about and to recognize that they gave their lives so they could have a child. And a lot of time, it was unnecessary to give that much.”

Florio’s goal is to find ways to prevent deaths in the future.

She has already been working with Saint Luke’s Research Division on her first initiative as the PAMR Chair. With a grant from the March of Dimes and the Foundation for Female Health, Florio hopes to better understand women’s perceptions about maternal mortality across the state. This state-wide survey will launch in the first quarter of 2022 and will help PAMR understand what people know about maternal mortality and where they receive their health care information to help target future public health interventions.

“I feel very passionate about maternal and child health coverage, and I am really excited to start working with the big players in the state on how to implement public health programs to improve maternal care in the state of Missouri,” said Florio.

Dr. Florio’s own high-risk pregnancy and experience with pre-eclampsia before delivering her son at 31 weeks shaped her perspective as a maternal-fetal medicine physician and the care she provides to her patients. She also participates in Missouri’s perinatal quality collaborative and was nominated to serve on the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health National board to develop evidence-based protocols for heart disease in pregnancy. She will be a voting member for one more year for PAMR when her two-year term is complete.

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