This achievement was recognized through a banner from the March of Dimes and Missouri Hospital Association (MHA). The banners were recently presented to the Labor and Delivery Departments of each hospital.
A total of 68 birthing hospitals in Missouri were eligible to apply for the honor, according to Trina Ragain, state director of program services, advocacy and government affairs, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter. Ragain said 25 hospitals applied and met the criteria and out of those 25, 19 had an early elective delivery rate of 0%. CoxHealth has approximately 4,900 births each year at its birthing facilities in Springfield, Branson and Monett.
The March of Dimes says this will give more babies a healthy start in life. Babies delivered before full-term are at increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life.
“We’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who saw this opportunity to improve care in our community and put in place policies to avoid scheduling elective inductions or caesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Beth Rutherford, Administrative Director of Nursing, CoxHealth.
“The last weeks of pregnancy are extremely important. Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs,” Ragain said. “The March of Dimes commends CoxHealth for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”
“We know that the last weeks of pregnancy are vitally important in a baby’s development,” said Tracey Williams, RN, director of OB Women’s Services. “At Cox Medical Center Branson, we eliminated early elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries in the best interest of the babies we deliver and are honored to be recognized by the March of Dimes for this effort.”
Additionally, of the 46 hospitals, 87 percent now have a “hard stop” policy in place which establishes strict medical guidelines for when a physician may schedule a delivery. Only 35 percent had a hard stop policy in place before the MHA/March of Dimes collaboration began. The policy prohibits doctors from scheduling a delivery – either by induction or cesarean section – before the baby is at a confirmed 39 weeks gestation. The policy applies to non-medically indicated (elective) deliveries only.
“In the best interests of the health of mothers and infants, Missouri's hospitals have been working to reduce early elective deliveries,” said Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association. “This is one of many quality improvements they are aggressively pursuing to achieve the Triple Aim of better care, better health and lower costs.”
More information is available at marchofdimes.org/39weeks.