About - Hospitals - Programs and Services - Outpatient - Locations - Giving
Conemaugh Memorial joins March of Dimes in New Program to Help Stop Babies from Being Born too Early
Home > About Us > Media Center > Press Releases > Conemaugh Memorial joins March of Dimes in New Program to Help Stop Babies from Being Born too Early

Posted: 2013-11-15

Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center has been partnering with the March of Dimes to lower the number of babies born too early.
Conemaugh Memorial is among 100 hospitals nationwide currently working with the March of Dimes to implement the “39+Weeks Quality Improvement Service Package” which helps hospitals develop and implement policies and procedures to reduce medically unnecessary (elective) inductions and cesarean deliveries scheduled before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births. Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Babies born just a few weeks early have potentially longer hospital stays and higher expenses.

“Conemaugh Memorial recognized the ramifications of the Late-Preterm infant and embarked on a journey starting in 2005 to reduce elective deliveries,” says April Behory, RNC-OB, MSN, Director of Woman/Child Services. “The March of Dimes project, supported by evidence-based practices, helped us with the tools to succeed. The patient and clinician are critical in reducing elective deliveries. Our process began with educating clinicians, staff and patients as to why it is unsafe to deliver before less than 39 weeks unless there is a medical or obstetrical reason.”

As part of the initiative staff at Conemaugh Memorial developed policies and procedures to streamline processes to ensure safety and quality outcomes for moms and babies. “Educational materials were developed for patients, along with teaching at office visits and prenatal classes,” says Behory. “This is a major cultural change for everyone and has not been without growing pains.” 

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the physicians and midwives for their substantial cooperation that was required to change the culture from a provider-centric care to a patient-centered, transparent team approach care,” says Dr. Adib Khouzami, Conemaugh Physician Group- OB/GYN and Chairman of Memorial’s program.

“The last weeks of pregnancy are important to the development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs” says Dolores T. Smith, State Director for Program Services and Government Affairs for Pennsylvania March of Dimes. “Babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Research by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that although the overall threat is small, the risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities. We commend Conemaugh Health System for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”

With implementation of the reduction of elective deliveries project, Memorial was able to incorporate the role of an OB Laborist (Certified Nurse Midwife) and a designated Charge Nurse that serve as “hard-stops” for the new processes. Results have been impressive.

“Currently, Conemaugh’s <39 week elective induction rate is at 0%, this was near 30% prior to implementation,” says Dr. Khouzami. “Our Cesarean rate is at 24%, below the national average of 33%. We have decreased the number of Late-preterm infants admitted to expensive hospital stays in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery by 80%. Infants are discharged within 1.5-2 days along with their families instead of a prolonged hospital stay.”

The staff of Conemaugh Memorial’s OB/GYN department will recognize their success in a celebration with the March of Dimes on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, at 10am in the Maternity lobby on Conemaugh Memorial’s Clinical Pavilion, 5th floor. All are welcome to attend.

“We are looking forward to celebrating our success and taking the opportunity to thank our supportive Senior Leadership Team, Physicians, Midwives, and staff for providing support on many levels, making this very important mission of increasing quality and safety a priority and helping us provide an Excellent patient experience,” adds Behory.

About Conemaugh Memorial Maternity Services
Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center’s maternity care services have been widely recognized for outstanding results and patient satisfaction. Our program includes the specialized services of a full-time high-risk obstetrician, one of the top obstetrical nursing staffs in the country, natural birthing rooms equipped with the latest technology and a Level 3 (highest level) Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery. Learn more at www.conemaugh.org and on Facebook.

About The March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

For More Information, Please Contact:
Amy Bradley, Director of Public Affairs
Phone: (814) 534-3121
Email: abradle@conemaugh.org