Minnesota is among the best states in the nation when it comes to preventing pregnancy-related deaths.

We are fifth in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation, when it comes to the health of women and children. That is a good thing.

“It is, of course, something of a comfort to live and work in a state that is doing well compared to our peers, but I do think we can certainly do better,” says Dr. Lisa Saul with Allina.

When Dr. Saul says “do better,” she is referring to maternal mortality, or women who die during childbirth or in the year following birth. In Minnesota, that number is 13.

Thirteen women for every 100,000 live births in the state.

Most of those women die not due to medical issues, but to suicide, drug overdose and gun violence.

And, most of those women are women of color.

"These deaths are occurring typically in the first six months after the birth of a child, which tells me that there's an opportunity we have in health care to take a look at that particular time period a little bit differently, and ask ourselves, how are we gaining information, helping our patients gain access to our care to address those issues in that period of time?” she says.

Minnesota is one of the states that has a Maternal Mortality Review Project Committee. A group of people committed to lowering the death rate by truly looking at what happened in each case. Dr. Saul is on that committee.

“The physicians are assigned a certain number of patients to review, and then we meet as a committee and we discuss the cases, and determine if it was a pregnancy-related death or a pregnancy-associated death, and then if there are any lessons learned or anything that we need to cull together to disseminate to every hospital in the state of Minnesota,” Dr. Saul explains.

One problem, right now the committee is on a hold of sorts. The person that gathers the information and data for the committee retired and so far, the Department of Health has not filled the position.

“We're all still very committed and wanting to meet because this is how this work is going to continue,” says Dr. Saul.

KARE 11 reached out to the Department of Health to find out what was the holdup in filling the position.

They tell us, the division has been actively trying to fill the position for months and they are working to find the best candidate in a competitive market. They are currently in the process of interviewing candidates and will hopefully get the position filled soon.

And as far as other ways to cut down on deaths, Dr. Saul says to treat the period after birth as a fourth trimester of sorts, having more appointments for moms to check on them as much as we check on those beautiful new babies.