Maternal deaths would be reviewed; Cowboy Trail portions could be leased

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April 19, 2013 - 5:30pm

A state review team would be expanded to look into issues of maternal mortality, under a bill advancing in the Legislature. And portions of the Cowboy Trail could be leased to localities for improvement, under another piece of legislation.

Nebraska, along with every other state, already has a team that reviews child deaths. But Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha says this state is not among the 23 that review the deaths of mothers during the first year after giving birth.

Legislation Howard has introduced would change that, by expanding the state’s Child Death Review Team and assigning it to investigate maternal deaths as well. Howard says Nebraska has about 12 maternal deaths per hundred thousand births. "Those are generally pregnancy- related. What we don’t know is what happens during that post-partum year -- if there are any maternal mortality issues during that post-partum year," she said.

The review team includes doctors, child advocates, and law enforcement representatives. Members are not paid for being on the team, but do receive expenses. The bill is not expected to cost the state any money.

Nebraska ranks poorly in maternal deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control, which put the state 40th among the 50 states. Howard says while the figures are available on maternal deaths, there is currently no systematic look at the circumstances.

Under her bill, the team will be able to pull together records from agencies such as the State Patrol, Fire Marshal and the Department of Health and Human Services to see if there are any patterns. "It goes back to the post-partum depression, suicidal ideations that you can see during that year that maybe we’re not able to reach into right now," she said. Howard’s bill got first-round approval on a vote of 32-0.

On another matter, senators voted 40-0 first round approval for a bill allowing the Game and Parks Commission to lease portions of the Cowboy Trail to municipalities or nonprofit organizations. Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis says the idea is to let localities improve sections of the trail so people won’t have to ride on the nearby highway.

The trail, on the old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad bed, stretches 321 miles across northern Nebraska from Norfolk to Chadron. But currently, only the 195 miles from Norfolk to Valentine is finished, and some of that was torn up by flooding a few years ago.



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