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Who's Saving Women and Babies?

DC has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country. That’s just one of the challenges facing the new CEO of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses.


Lynn Erdman is up to the task, since she’s been focusing on women’s health since the early days of her nursing career. As the new AWHONN CEO, she'll be looking at why maternal death rates have doubled in the US over the last decade. (The US now ranks 46th in the world.) One reason is that more women are hemorrhaging after giving birth. The association will be working on improving how clinicians recognize and respond to hemorrhage cases in DC hospitals. We talked to Lynn during her first week on the job. (She comes from the American College of Surgeons in Chicago, so DC’s wintry weather didn't scare her a bit.)


Lynn, showing us her nursing mementos, says she’ll also work on programs to educate women on access to healthcare, including whether they're able to sign up for insurance through ACA. The mother of two daughters says it’s important since women are largely the decision makers when it comes to health. The organization will also look at whether aging women are aware of what they need to be doing as they live longer. AWHONN is one of the largest nursing organizations, with over 350,000 nurses who take care of women and newborns. AWHONN mostly focuses on creating hospital guidelines, like safe patient-to-nurse ratios, fetal heart monitoring, and nursing education. The organization, which does some fundraising, also awards research grants focused on improving health care for women and babies. 


Lynn is from Charlotte, NC, and still has a home there with her husband. (She’ll be heading back on the weekends.) She started in nursing as a hospital aide through college and then became a neonatal intensive care nurse and eventually held hospital executive positions. She became interested in women’s health after working in a clinical research study for women with cancer in the '80s. Some of the women in the study died, and it left Lynn wondering if they had enough health information to make informed decisions about their participation in the study. Lynn also worked at the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen, where she helped run the organization during challenging times.

Related Topics: American College