What we do | Who we are
Maternl©, a division of Hygeia Health Systems LLC, provides unique content and developed specifically to offer opportunities and advantages to improve gaps and disparities in prenatal health care for women and their families, world-wide.
Maternl© addresses access to maternal and child healthcare and is particularly focused on disparities to early entry into prenatal healthcare services, in an effort to reduce associated prematurity, neonatal and infant mortality. Maternl© offers assistance to access maternal and child healthcare services and resources. Maternl© comforts and supports all pregnancy and newborn related concerns, particularly should one have a complicated pregnancy that might result in a miscarriage, very pregnancy loss, stillbirth or neonatal death. Maternl offers a rich resource of personal writings, thoughts and poetry inclusive of maternal poems, birth poems and poem of loss. Unique to Maternl© is the opportunity to re-dedicate an original poem to honor a child (or for someone else's child ) and download a personalized, signed poem. One may select a poem written and rededicated for the loss of a pregnancy or newborn or a poem for other occasions to honor, eulogize or celebrate occasions that might be appropriate for the user or for their friends, family or colleagues. This is a complementary service of Maternl©but contributions can be made through GoFundMe to help sustain the mission of Maternl©. Maternl© strives to improve maternal and fetal health, experiences and outcomes, in a milieu of empathy, compassion, advocacy and trust by addressing gaps, disparities and unmet needs in care by promoting the universal adoption of one standard of maternal care for all.
Maternl© is founded on the premise that the use of new technologies that advance science and innovation in maternal and child healthcare can also address age-old human values and lessons necessary for healing and well-being. The programs of Maternl© provide a platform to inform, educate and comfort a pregnancy while embracing language, communication and the vital tenets of 'humanism' to offer unique resources to improve the dimension of caring for all mothers. Maternl© provides original content and applications, authored, designed and monitored by the founder, an Obstetrician with a career-long committment to and practice in obstetrics, maternal and women's health and contributions from the Maternl© advisory board, selected for their life's work, expertise and values inherent in our mission.
1 Hygeia Health Systems, LLC, symbolic of the Greek mythological goddess of health and healing for which it is named, represents a concern for the human dimension of healthcare and medicine, the use of new technologies to share age-old lessons, the development of software programs to improve quality, safety, empathy, compassion and physician-patient engagement and a concern to address disparities in access to and outcomes of care, domestically and internationally.
To Address pregnancy care and well-being with empathy, trust, and social justice by addressing disparities and unmet needs in care for vulnerable and underserved families and communities including the:
Maternl believes that we who have taken the "Oath" to practice our sacred profession of medicine and we who have committed ourselves to the healing arts must do so with the imperative to respect the sanctity of health for all those we treat - with a sense of high privilege-for they are the flesh and blood and souls of our humanity - past, present and future - and we, by our choice, their guardians. Maternl through our writings, poems, personal thoughts and unique programs strives to promote these tenets.
Our words are songs
The impact of words is universal. Words particularly in the form of poetry can uniquely bridge the chasm of what to say and what is felt at significant times in all of our lives. Through metaphor and allusion, rhyming and meter; for eulogy and celebration; for love, understanding and hope, poetry matters significantly. Poetry enables me to ask why even when we already understand how. It permits me as a Doctor of Medicine, witness to the frailties of our humanity, to abet healing through the very core of what makes us human, our language and our personal emotions. It has been my platform to tell my 'stories', to honor my patients, my friends, my family and indeed, the essence of humanity, the "family of man". We as healthcare professionals have a need and obligation to care for others. Whether in academic, research or clinical practice, laboratory medicine or diagnostic imaging, the healthcare professionals' role is to bring comfort and to heal. From such healing comes self-reward, self-fulfillment and honor. If we are surrounded by despair and inequities and have the opportunity to help with their dissolution, it is our obligation to do so. Such has been my mission as a physician, an obstetrician, through my work and my poetry. If one person, one family, can be helped or can gather hope through the words we write and say, it can bring reward equal to the healing with our hands and minds. Hope is a singular gift we must never destroy in ourselves. Poetry is its instrument whose music can be its enabler. Words we write, words we read, and words we hear can serve as an invaluable source of healing. Words are songs from our hearts and can be "songs of hope, songs for hope"
Our ethos is a human bond of caring
"The physicians of the Hippocratic era called medicine 'The Art'. They knew that the care of their fellows was an act of creativity. They also recognized that each patient and his or her physician form a bond that is unique unto itself. That bond is the foundation upon which healing takes place." 1
Moses Maimonides, "the most important Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages" wrote "The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures... my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children...may I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain" 2
Both citations above speak of patients as "fellows" and "human[sic] creatures and children...". This must commit us who have taken the "Oath" to practice our sacred profession of medicine with an imperative to respect the sanctity of life and health for all those we treat-with a sense of high privilege- for they are the flesh and blood and souls of all humanity - past, present and future-and we, by our choice, their guardians.
There is no place for bias or prejudice or disparate care in our healthcare systems. I have tried in my half-century of caring for patients to follow this philosophy. Now, no longer in clinical practice, I have turned my passion and energies to creating this platform, Maternl©.
A brief personal thought
"I am first a physician, a distant disciple of Aesculapius and Hippocrates3; a clinician, a teacher, and a student. I am an Obstetrician. I stand before my patients4 and facilitate their births. I share their joys; I feel their pains. Yet, caring for the well-being and the illnesses of patients and their families is to accept that medical science in all its depth and possibilities is not precise and that the human mind and flesh are perishable. We are today steeped in myriad medical technologies that in themselves bring hope to previously hopeless conditions and pathologies. Yet there remains inexorable suffering which accompanies failures and tribulations not only of these new medical technologies but of pervasive disparities which exist to deny access to and recipient of one standard of care for all, disparities defined by the social determinants of health:5 the paradox of our societies to both cure and cause pain which is real and evident.
I believe that we as practitioners and guardians of humanity's health, have been granted by oath and by ethic the privilege to examine and treat, to counsel and advise our fellow human beings and we must never abandon the souls of all patients seeking our care. It is my hope that Maternl© will propagate and preserve these tenets. "
Going forward (l)
Today are times of much despair
Yet times of great hope
To affirm our oath
As unfiltered reason and purpose
Rush in our blood
Every pulse a wave
Approaching distant shores
To leave our prejudice behind
To fade into vapors
As common as fog
And guide us to plant
Roots to bond our humanhood and
Vines to grow our brotherhood
As we go forth into tomorrow.
Help with access to pre-natal and women's health care
Get your personal letter of introduction to a center, clinic, hospital or other healthcare facility
Through this portal, GetCare provides the user with easy access to a database of geographic-specific Federally Funded Clinics and Maternal and Child Health Services linked through HHS.gov where prenatal and delivery care can be given and a global database of centers in developing, vulnerable countries and cities. GetCare provides a personalized letter of introduction for the user to the health care facility they select as one who needs help with their care, much like patients have a letters of referral to a doctor from another doctor. By having this introduction to prenatal care services GetCare addresses the lack of an advocate / provider, the lack of awareness of local healthcare facilities offering maternal and child health care services including prenatal care, a lack of understanding of the need for pre-natal care, albeit early care, the late diagnosis, recognition and acceptance of ones pregnancy, embarrassment and denial, and perhaps, shame, diminished self worth and dignity and a feeling of isolation without a place or professional to turn to for immediate care, counseling and accompanying advocacy. The letter itself is not a referral but an introduction. This service can be easily linked to local and regional social services so families in need can have their support as well.
To locate a FQHC Federally Qualified Health Center and / or a center for primary care, prenatal care or women's health care, enter the city or country (This database is in the process of being developed.) If your city or country is not found, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maternl has developed a set of pregnancy tools and elements of a personal prenatal health record. By registering with Maternl, you will have access to these tools. The information that you enter will be emailed to your email address. This will enable you to collate and keep this in your email. The following modules are currently available:
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Receive a personalized, original poem
Here you may read, request and receive a personalized, original poem of birth, loss, hope and other themes of human thoughts and feelings.
This program enables the user to rededicate an original, personalized poem written by Dr. Berman, a physician-poet, to a loved one or friend or a poem to keep for oneself as a remembrance or celebration and the ability to select the poem to download and print which is personalized, signed and rededicated for you to have and share.
"Poetry enables me to ask why even when we already understand how. It permits me as a Doctor of Medicine, witness to the frailties of our humanity, to abet healing through the very core of what makes us human, our language and our personal emotions."
( M.Berman )
A Library of poetry, personal thoughts and words
they can make a real connection with another mind and heart"
Leisel Mueller, personal communication
Though our spirits may fade and our viscera bleed, we are enabled by the agents of our humanity empowered by ancestral song and promise (Berman, 1999)
Comfort may be achieved through the transfer of the poet's feelings into the reader or listener's mind. It transports the reader from the distractions and influences of the outside world inward to the internal rhythms and solace of the personal soul. The poet becomes a healer and his poetry his staff. Through verse and meter, free of inhibition yet full with expression, the poet may articulate a sensitivity and empathy and provoke this introspection and inner peace. A poem is transformed into a message of hope. There is wonderment and magic in the words of a poem. Each word is selected for its individual meaning within the context of the entire poem. A few properly selected words can move the reader to tears and awaken the primal emotions of joy, promise, despair and hope. A poet should evoke emotion in his work and write as if each poem is written with the poet's last words.
The language of poetry, within the broader context of its 'parent body' (literature,) has always had as its great themes, love, loss and death. The inclusion of hope to these thematic elements is worthwhile if not essential for, (as humans) we have the capacity to bring hope to a despair that is uniquely created by our humanity and our human conditions.
"By making us stop for a moment, poetry gives us an opportunity to think about ourselves as human beings on this planet and what we mean to each other." Rita Dove
"Only those within whose own consciousness the suns rise and set, the leaves burgeon and wither,can be said to be aware of what living is." Joseph Wood Krutch
Comfort and support for pregnancy or newborn loss
A place for comfort, empathy, support and hope if you should experience a miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death including more original writings, poems, sharing and bereavement resources and excerpts from Dr. Berman's book: Parenthood Lost.
"Though strangers we may be, we are all connected by the loss of a child,
and that makes us all soulmates..."
( from a Maternl / Hygeia user )
Maternl believes it is the greatest professional privilege to participate in the care of a pregnancy and the birth of a child. Yet, when a child dies; when elation turns to grief, and joy to sorrow; when in a brief moment the expected becomes the unexpected, this privilege becomes sacred. For we are first to see and touch them, we inscribe their image indelibly in our minds, and their death, in paradox, does not sear our bonds of caring but rather seals them. Furthermore, we as health professionals must grasp the importance of our presence, our words and our deeds when our patients are dying or incurable or families are grieving a perinatal, infant, childhood. Everyone who touches, speaks with and interacts with the patient -both in a primary and a secondary role -should be aware of what their life-long influence on healing for the patient and family can be.
As an Obstetrician, my professional career has involved a striving to bring comfort and healing to children, born and yet to born, and to mothers through their years of childbearing and beyond. It has been the cause in my life. I have been uplifted by the triumphs of birth and healing and depressed by the failures. Yet I have always tried to look beyond the failures in search of the triumphs. I have counseled patients at the darkest times of their lives, when their children have died, and I have turned to the comfort of personal reflection, poetry and self-expression to better help me help my patients. I have learned that by writing down thoughts which might elucidate my feelings more clearly than the spoken word, I have become a better physician.
Some thoughts about caring for the Loss of a pregnancy or newborn When the outcomes of our patient's pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death, we struggle to find the right approach to break the news to them, treat them medically and/or surgically, help them recover physically and emotionally, and console them in their grief. Most of us have not been taught to provide this bereavement care. We learn fast that there are hospital nurses and social workers, bereavement counselors and therapists, support groups and religious ministries to whom we can refer our patients for immediate bereavement care and subsequent follow-up. We can do the D and C and we can attend and assist in the birth of the baby who has experienced an intrauterine death. But then, for many Obstetricians, we refer our patients for bereavement care. When we hold in the palm of our hand an 18 week fetus immediately after our patient miscarried or attend the stillbirth of a term pregnancy, our intellectual knowledge and rational thought fade as we struggle to find the right words to say. Unlike the repetition of performing a surgical procedure, no matter how many times we have experienced a loss with our patients, it does not become easier.
Although the stillborn baby which might have been born viable represents the greatest emotional and management challenges, we must recognize any loss in pregnancy as a life-altering event for our patients. The care of the patient experiencing a Pregnancy Loss is a paradigm for what we do as physicians. It tests not only our clinical skills and judgments but stretches the fibers of the human aspect of caring very thin. Although we might ask, "how can we heal when our patients' children are incurable, when they are suffering or when they die or what do we do when the advanced technology that has become a part of our black bag fails", we must understand that we can heal by providing comfort , empathy and hope. As bad as this experience is for our patients, we can make it better. If we remain aware that we are the link between the stillborn baby and the bereaved family, that we were the first to touch and hold their child, albeit their stillborn child, then we can share this with them, remember this with them, and from this point forward, heal with them. The bond we form becomes the unbreakable fiber, which strengthens and indeed cements our role in the doctor-patient relationship.
4In Greek mythology, "Aesculapius, son of Apollo, the god of healing, was a famous physician. Hippocrates, was a member of the Asclepiadae- priest physicians whose origins may be traced to the mythical personage, Aesculapius"
5Obstare from the Latin meaning "To Stand before"; the root word of Obstetrics
6 "The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries." https://www.who.int/social_determinants/sdh_definition/en/
7 A poem defined by our times, September, 2020.
Michael R. Berman, MD, MBI, FACOG
Founder, President and CEO
A division of Hygeia Health Systems, LLC
P.O Box 3674
Woodbridge, Connecticut 06525
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