Three Catholic Health hospitals in Erie and Niagara counties have been recognized by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York for high-quality maternity care as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Sisters of Charity Hospital, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston were named Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) for Maternity Care. The three hospitals delivered more than 5,700 babies in 2019.
A press release stated, “Racial and ethnic disparities are persistent and widespread across maternal health care. Compared to similarly developed countries such as Canada, Germany and Australia, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate (MMR), at 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births, with the MMR steadily increasing since 2000. According to the CDC, non-Hispanic Black women are two to three times more likely to die from preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications compared to white women.”
To help address gaps in care and ensure better outcomes, The BlueCross BlueShield Association enhanced its quality evaluation for the maternity care program looking at key factors in the U.S. maternal health crisis, including preventable or treatable pregnancy-related conditions, high C-section rates, and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health care.
“This designation recognizes the hard work and dedication of our doctors, nurses, midwives, residents, OB/GYN chairs and our entire care team,” said Anthony Pivarunus, DO, chair of obstetrics and gynecology for Catholic Health. “This achievement is a testament to the compassionate, personalized care our team provides and the importance they place on quality, safety, health equity, and ongoing improvement strategies, which focus on healthy moms and healthy babies across the Buffalo Niagara Region.”
The press release noted, “In 2020, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program was expanded beyond traditional outcome measures to include assessments of internal quality improvement, data collection and dissemination, and internal protocols that better address clinical quality and equity issues in maternity care. New in the evaluation cycle, facilities must collect race ethnicity data, have a maternal quality improvement program, commence drills and simulations for adverse events, and have dedicated protocols and procedures for the management of hypertension and hemorrhage. In addition, they must meet clinical outcome metrics at a higher standard than required previously and show statistically significant differences in key clinical outcomes compared to their peers.
“Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacement, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery, and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver. Research shows that, compared to other providers, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.
“In 2018, facilities that received designations under the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program cared for more than 40% of Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured women giving birth across the country.”