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florencia polite
Florencia Greer Polite, MD

PHILADELPHIA – Florencia Greer Polite, MD, chief of the Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been selected for the 2022 Carol Emmott Fellowship class by the Carol Emmott Foundation, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving gender equity in healthcare leadership and governance.

The foundation selects fellows for a 14-month program and supports them in designing and completing an impact project in their health communities. Fellows are also paired with mentors who are nationally recognized senior executives. Polite is among 22 fellows in the 2022 class.

For her fellowship project, Polite will be designing and initiating a specialized curriculum – intended for non-Black healthcare providers and clinicians – on racial bias and maternal mortality outcomes among Black patients. Calling the disparity between white and Black maternal mortality “unacceptable,” Polite says the goal will be to decrease mortality rates among Black pregnant mothers and Black new mothers and mortality rates among expecting and new mothers overall. The curriculum will include ways that obstetric providers can better communicate with, support, and listen to their Black patients, emphasize common health issues for new and expectant mothers, and highlight ways that patients of color have historically been marginalized and under-supported. The initiative will begin at Penn Medicine private and academic Obstetrics and Gynecology practices with the goal of serving as a model that can be implemented nationally outside the health system.

Seven hundred women in the United States die each year due to pregnancy or delivery complications, according to the CDC. The NIH reports that, compared to white women, Black and Native American women are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications.

“Both Penn Medicine and I personally share a goal of decreasing maternal mortality everywhere, and it’s well documented that, nationwide, maternal mortality is significantly higher among Black patients,” said Polite, who is a Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology and vice chair of Clinical Operations for the department. “Targeted curriculum to non-Black clinicians and providers may make a difference because we know, from research, that Black patients with Black providers have lower levels of maternal mortality. And in most places, Black physicians are much less common than non-Black physicians. In my Penn Ob/Gyn faculty practice, we have seen anecdotal evidence that the concerns of our Black patients with white physicians have been addressed with the help of education for non-Black physicians. Therefore, I’m eager to implement and test a curriculum in a formal way.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $9.9 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $546 million awarded in the 2021 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 47,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2021, Penn Medicine provided more than $619 million to benefit our community.

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