CapNY Changemakers: Introducing J’Vanay Santos

Being known affectionately (or maybe sardonically depending on the mood) as Smallbany, the Capital District is known for having a close-knit community with limited offerings but those of us in the know know that this is a misconception. Millennials have been working overtime to give this region a much needed reboot, bolstering niche communities rife with culture. These individuals leading the charge are changemakers– advocates of cultural, spiritual, and mental progress that are leaders in any given space.

Forging a New Path in Maternal Care

One Changemaker is making her disruptive entrance into the maternal care space. Albany native J’Vanay Santos is forging a new path in maternal care and she’ll be sharing her gift with the tri-state area soon. Co-founded by J’Vanay, MyLÚA Health is an emerging maternal health platform that specializes in support for birthing persons and their care teams through personalized education, connection to resources, and health insights to improve quality and equitable decision-making. MyLÚA Health is an AI-powered early risk detection service that identifies & manages the risk of pregnancy-related complications. In J’Vanay’s words, 

“MyLÚA Health supports allied health professionals to ensure birthing persons have access to knowledge and resources to achieve a safe and healthy pregnancy for themselves and their babies. With predictive analytics, automation tools, and a robust network or partners, the company determines needs at the individual level and matches them to localized resources. After answering a brief intake, MyLÚA will provide a personalized risk assessment; along with evidence-based, actionable education and connections to both clinical and non-clinical resources to address care needs. Additionally, MyLÚA partners with community-based organizations to enhance support systems at the local level. “The goal here,” J’Vanay says,” is to focus on missed and delayed diagnoses that stem from poor screening and lack of data, which hinders a provider’s understanding of a birthing person’s lived experience.”

The Inspiration

J’Vanay’s inspiration for the creation of MyLÚA lies in her up-close experience with the racial gap in maternal care, “U-Leea Santos, our Chief Experience Officer, and my sister, was denied medical intervention despite establishing a code word for wanting intervention. The mental and emotional tool of such an experience was challenging and left us wondering why we could not advocate for U-Leea’s wishes. As one of 8 [children] and the glorified doula of my family after being a part of 5 prior births, I knew something was wrong. So, we decided to dive into the literature and unearthed many issues with the maternal care system.” And that she did. J’Vanay and U-Leea partnered with a group of like minded health care providers, data scientists, and engineers to bring their dream to fruition.

J’Vanay’s passion for equity in the maternal health care space lies in the desire to give voice and agency to those that have been stripped of it, “We are amplifying the voices of birthing persons/mothers that have historically been left out of the narrative. When speaking with birthing folks, we continuously hear that they feel rushed, unheard, and express concerns about their pain being ignored. Trust has been in the maternal care system as structural racism has led to outcome disparities and inequities. We provide a platform that equips birthing persons with knowledge, resources, care advocates, and risk detection so all birthing persons can access their right to a quality and safe birthing experience for themselves and their babies.” Though this is a weighty call to task, it’s one worth striving for. Per NPR the maternal death rate for Black Americans was 69.9 per 100,000 in 2021 alone, which is 2.6 times higher the rate for white women.

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the gap in any way we can means increasing access to quality care, identifying diagnoses early and finding community care to help address those needs where busy hospitals and health care centers cannot. MyLÚA Health is one of the many organizations trying to push us in the right direction. They are changemakers and the community is ready to receive them with open arms. From panel opportunities to partnerships with doula and community based organizations to funding, the community at large has embraced them– and soon NY State at large will be too.

At this time MyLÚA is focused on securing further partnerships before they go live later this year. If you’d like to get involved or receive support, reach out to the team here.

Written by: Arielle Steele

Arielle is a local writer who has a passion for community, film, dance, and Beyoncé. When she is not working at Ayco, she can be found working on her next film project or trying out a new hairstyle.