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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, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, 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 an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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