Sharing What We Have Learned: Healthy City Collaborative

Rachel Caskey

Sharing What We Have Learned is sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships, Healthy City Collaborative, and the Office of Health Literacy, Prevention, and Engagement. We are pleased to highlight research and community engagement activities of UIC researchers. Each month we feature a researcher and important findings from their work. This information is shared in a ready-to-use format suitable for widespread distribution. If you would like more information about our efforts to share what we have learned, visit our website at or email

Pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality has increased steadily over the last three decades. The number of maternal deaths has increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2018. In Illinois, over 70 women die each year within one year of pregnancy; and Black women are six times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related condition compared to white women. Further, the majority of these maternal deaths in Illinois are deemed preventable.

Unfortunately, many women do not receive timely or appropriate postpartum care. At the University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. Rachel Caskey, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, observed that many new moms do not receive routine postpartum care, yet nearly all routinely bring their infants in for pediatric care. Over the past nine years, Dr. Caskey and colleagues have been exploring ways to improve access to postpartum care. The team has conducted a number of studies to learn about postpartum women’s preferences for care; which lead to clinical trials studying new models of care for women. For example, Caskey and colleagues conducted a randomized trial co-locating contraception care with newborn care to improve access to postpartum contraception. She studied the use of a simple questionnaire that women complete during their infant’s pediatric visit to identify maternal care needs and this was used to successfully connect women to care. The findings from these and other studies support the importance of designing a new system of care that better meets the needs of women and infants.

More recently, Dr. Caskey, with collaborators Arden Handler, at the School of Public Health and Stacie Geller in Obstetrics and Gynecology, embarked on a 5-year project focused on decreasing maternal morbidity and mortality in Illinois. The I PROMOTE IL (Innovations to ImPRrOve Maternal OuTcomEs in Illinois) team is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health Title V Program and others to launch a series of system-level statewide efforts.

Based on work done by Caskey and colleagues to date, the I PROMOTE IL program includes the implementation of a novel Two-Generation clinic at UIC that serves postpartum women and their newborns simultaneously. The clinic provides comprehensive care for women and infants, as well as strong support services including social work, lactation, mental health care and care coordination. The model is designed to address many social determinants of health that impact Chicago families. 

About Our Researcher
Dr. Caskey is an associate professor, health services researcher and chief of the Division of Academic Internal Medicine at UIC. Her research focuses on investigating novel mechanisms to positively impact and incentivize preventive health behaviors which result in improved health outcomes. Her recent work focuses on system-level changes to health care settings to improve outcomes for women and children; with an emphasis on improving access to care for postpartum women. Dr. Caskey has an appointment at UIC’s School of Public Health in the Division of Maternal Child Health and is a member of the UIC Cancer Center.

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