Family and friends remember young mother’s death to childbirth complications
Jamie Cordial Hall was picking up a few things for her 5-week-old son Cody’s baptism the morning of May 15, 2018, when she began to hemorrhage.
Hall — a healthy, vibrant, 38-year-old middle-class mother of two from Greensburg — was the last woman friends and family would have thought to be at risk for death because of postpartum complications. But within five hours, she was gone.
She is among the 700 to 900 women in the United States who die each year from postpartum complications, defined as pregnancy-related conditions that develop within 42 weeks of the end of a pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world — with 20.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 women in 2018.
“We didn’t know that then, but we do now,” Hall’s father, Dale Cordial, said of the tragedy that claimed his eldest child. “It’s so high now. It shouldn’t be. This is modern-day science, and they can’t figure this out. It baffles my mind. … You never think something like that is going to happen.”
On Thursday, friends and family gathered to remember Hall at the Seton Hill University Child Development Center. The preschool dedicated a musical playground to the young mother whose family connections to the center span three generations of Cordials. Jamie and her three younger brothers attended, her daughter Chloe attends classes there and her mother, Michele, has volunteered there for 21 years.
Parents of the children who attend the preschool joined with the foundation Hall’s family created to honor her memory to underwrite the purchase of three large outdoor musical instruments as a memorial that will provide stimulation to the young children Hall loved so much.
Chasing Cody and keeping an eye on 4½-year-old Chloe, Tom Hall marveled at the work everyone had done to create a living memorial to the young mother who lived for her family.
“It’s been a rough road, but things like this and events we’ve done for the foundation are nice tributes and a great way to keep her memory alive,” he said, as Cody toddled around the playground.
Michele Cordial said Jamie would have been touched to know her influence lives on at the preschool.
“She loved the (Child Development Center), even as she grew up, and she just loved kids. … She just felt with her heart. When she was in preschool and one of the little kids would cry every day, she’d come home and say, ‘Mommy, Josh cried again today. But I hugged him and helped him so he wouldn’t cry,’ ” Cordial recalled.
“She was always for the underdog, always trying to help people. In high school at (Greensburg Central Catholic), she’d say this person can’t afford the tuition, can you find a way to help them? She always tried to find a way to help people,” Hall’s mother said.
Hall, a Penn State graduate, was close to her brothers and their families. After college, she returned to Greensburg where she met her husband, Tom. They quickly settled into the rhythms of family life in Greensburg. She always took Chloe with her to the office where she worked part time at the PT Group, the physical therapy practice her father founded.
“She never left Chloe, except when she went to the hospital to have Cody,” Michele Cordial said.
Jamie and Tom were thrilled when they learned Chloe would be joined by a brother. A photo on the Jamie Cordial Hall Foundation website shows the four of them beaming in the hospital shortly after Cody was born in April.
The family is grateful for the support they’ve received to keep Jamie’s memory alive through the foundation.
In less than a year, it has provided Easter baskets for children with illnesses as part of the Easter for Eli drive, as well as diapers, newborn sleepers and other children’s clothing to Birthright of Greensburg. They also are working to support Circle Camps, summer camps in Maine and West Virginia for girls who have lost a parent.
“We just want her memory to live on for her kids and to keep us sane,” Michele Cordial said. “I wish we didn’t have to do it, but I know Jamie would love what we’re doing.”
As for maternal mortality rates, they’ve remained relatively stable for the past few years, but no one is sure why they appear so high in the United States.
Last summer, a year after ProPublica and NPR published an investigation documenting the shocking numbers, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to dedicate millions of dollars to efforts to reduce maternal mortality rates. Meanwhile, 35 states — including Pennsylvania — launched committees to review maternal mortality numbers and seek clues to the painful toll of maternal mortality.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .