These cofounders are giving parents-to-be an alternative option to traditional hospital care by addressing the system inadequacies for people of color
- Allegra Hill and Kimberly Durdin launched Kindred Space LA, a birth-support center, in 2018.
- They aim to address a lack of diversity in midwifery and help people of color safely navigate birth.
Midwives delivered Allegra Hill, so she said she has always felt a personal connection to the practice. But it wasn't until she quit her corporate job in 2010 and volunteered at a birth center that she joined the industry.
It was there she met Kimberly Durdin, the center's lactation consultant. After discovering their shared goals to address the lack of diversity in midwifery and help people of color safely navigate birth, they hatched plans to launch Kindred Space LA, a birth clinic based in Los Angeles, in 2018.
Between 2018 and 2020, the maternal-mortality rates for Black and Hispanic people increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control. What's more, Black women were three times more likely to die from a maternal cause than white women in 2020.
"Our business is thriving and desirable because of the poor outcomes that people are having with traditional hospital care in this country," Hill said.
Today, Kindred Space LA offers in-clinic births, home births, support groups, sessions with mental-health professionals, and collaborative care with ob-gyns and midwives who work in hospitals. In addition to the clinic, the business has a nonprofit educational branch that trains future midwives.
Insider spoke with Hill and Durdin about their experiences launching Kindred Space LA and their hopes for the future.
Serving underrepresented communities
Durdin and Hill attended a midwifery conference in 2017, which inspired them to start their own company. There, they learned about the growing need for birth support in diverse communities.
"There were a lot of workshops around discrepancies in healthcare affecting Black women, indigenous women, and all kinds of non-dominant-culture people," Hill said. "There was a lot of pushback between the old guard of midwives and the more diverse group of people wanting to become midwives."
They were not able to open a birth center immediately because they didn't have the necessary funds, so they rented an office suite in 2018 to act as a community space for pregnant and postpartum people. They provided resources, connected pregnant people with doulas, and gave education and training for aspiring doulas, midwives, childbirth educators, and lactation consultants.
In 2020, Hill and Durdin aimed to open a brick-and-mortar clinic. They started a GoFundMe in May 2020, which raised about $5,000 in the first few weeks. Shortly after the murder of George Floyd on May 25 and the subsequent increase in conversations surrounding racism, donations poured in.
Kindred Space LA ultimately raised around $50,000, enough to open the birth clinic that year.
Affecting change in a complicated healthcare system
Hill and Durdin try to address the inadequacies of the healthcare system by giving their clients unwavering time and attention, they said. For example, each visit between a patient and a midwife at Kindred Space LA lasts a full hour, compared with the average ob-gyn visit, which typically lasts around 15 minutes, according to not-for-profit health-service company Main Line Health.
The hourlong conversations about what their clients are experiencing, the medicines they've been prescribed, and possible concerns with the birthing process inform Hill and Durdin's prenatal-care and health recommendations.
"Sometimes, there are things that clients feel they cannot be up-front with, with their healthcare providers, and we can usually sniff that up," Hill said.
After years of having their concerns ignored or their pain minimized, many women of color have become conditioned to distrust healthcare providers, and therefore might be wary of sharing possibly important medical information.
In fact, Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than white adults to be treated unfairly in a healthcare setting, according to a 2020 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and ESPN's The Undefeated.
Durdin and Hill do not accept insurance at this time — due to the low payments from insurance companies to Kindred — but they hope insurance becomes more compatible with their clinic and other niche services in the future.
"A lot of these insurance companies have to change how they pay people, organizations, companies, healthcare providers," Durdin said. "There's a lot of activism, a lot of work being done trying to reform these insurance companies so that our care is more accessible to all."
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