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March of Dimes recognizes OMC's commitment to providing best start for babies

Ozarks Medical Center has been recognized by the March of Dimes for eliminating elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 weeks of gestational age. According to the March of Dimes, babies delivered before full term are at increased risk of serious health problems at birth and later in life than babies born at full term.

OMC's rate of early elective deliveries is at 0 percent, having had no early elective deliveries or cesarean sections in more than two years. Each year, the medical center delivers approximately 700 babies.

"We are proud of our nurses, leaders and physicians who have made it a priority to eliminate early elective inductions or Caesarean deliveries, except when medically necessary," said Tom Keller, OMC President and CEO. "This is a reflection of our commitment to provide exceptional care for mothers and babies in order to give them the best possible start in life."

According to OB Nurse Manager Joanna Patillo, if a pregnancy is healthy, it is best to wait until at least 39 weeks to deliver.

"The last few weeks of pregnancy are extremely important in a baby's development. It's in these weeks of pregnancy that vital organs, like the brain, lungs and liver, are still growing and developing," Patillo said.

A two-year partnership between the March of Dimes Missouri Chapter and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) is achieving its goal of significantly reducing early elective deliveries (EEDs) by the end of 2014. Of the 46 participating birthing hospitals in Missouri, 78 percent report a rate of five percent or less and 61 percent have had no EEDs in the last six months of reported data.

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.

According to Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association, "In the best interests of the health of mothers and infants, Missouri's hospitals have been working to reduce early elective deliveries. This is one of many quality improvements they are aggressively pursuing to achieve the Triple Aim of better care, better health and lower costs."

The March of Dimes encourages women to remain pregnant for a full 39 to 40 weeks if their pregnancy is healthy.

  • A baby's brain at 35 weeks weighs just two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks.
  • A baby's brain nearly doubles in size during the last six weeks of pregnancy.
  • Babies born early have more learning and behavior problems in childhood than babies born at 39 to 40 weeks.
  • Babies born early are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

For more information about OMC Women's Healthcare, call 417-256-9111 ext. 6440.

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