The AHA has created an Action Plan that describes four steps to help meet the goal of eliminating maternal mortality and reducing severe morbidity:
- Evaluate and act on your data
- Examine disparities
- Engage mothers and families
- Partner with clinicians and stakeholders in your community
This Action Plan incorporates feedback from hundreds of hospital and clinical leaders who serve on AHA’s councils, committees and regional policy boards. The member case studies below highlight how our member hospitals and health systems have worked to implement these actions.
Training to Build Readiness For Obstetric Emergencies
Children's Hospital of San Antonio, San Antonio, TX (March 2022)
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio — a 196-bed facility and one of CHRISTUS Health’s 32 hospitals across rural and urban Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico — conducts simulation drills using Practicing for Patients, a free obstetrics simulation program, on its labor and delivery unit to practice standardized treatment and communication protocols.
Multidisciplinary Teams Improve Outcomes for Low Risk Moms
Virtua Voorhees Hospital, Voorhees, NJ (November 2021)
Virtua Health, a comprehensive community health system, serves communities in southern New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia region. The health system sees 8,000 to 9,000 deliveries across three of its five acute care hospitals, making women’s health among its leading service lines. Virtua used the opening of Virtua Voorhees in 2011, a 400-bed hospital, to evolve care delivery for laboring patients.
Sutter Health is a not-for-profit integrated health delivery system that operates 23 acute care hospitals and over 200 clinics in Northern California, with engagement in 30,000 births each year. Through its pregnancy and delivery quality improvement program, Sutter implemented continuous labor support, improved collaboration between care team members and reduced C-section and early-labor admission rates.
Norton Maternal Opiate and Substance Treatment (MOST) Program
Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Ky. (April 2021)
Norton Healthcare serves the Louisville and Southern Indiana market. Its 373-bed Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital includes a maternal-fetal medicine program and Level III neonatal intensive care unit.
The health system launched the Norton Maternal Opiate and Substance Treatment (MOST) Program in 2015 to provide specially designed treatment to pregnant woman with substance use disorder (SUD). It destigmatizes SUD by integrating the MOST Program's patients into a regular OB practice.
Institute for Diversity and Health Equity Spotlight Feature
Core Value Foundation of Delivering Equitable Maternal Health Care
Saint Anthony Hospital, Chicago (February 2021)
Saint Anthony has established a culture of providing high quality care and patient-centric programs to meet the needs of expectant mothers who may face chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension in addition to socio-economic issues such as poor housing, low income, gun and gang violence-ridden neighborhoods and food insecurity.
Brookings Health System established the state’s first free doula program for delivery and postpartum care, staffed by volunteers. The nine-year old program also receives high marks from patients and hospital staff.
Institute for Diversity and Health Equity Spotlight Feature
Taking Big Steps for Improving Maternal and Child Health
Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago (July 2020)
Loyola University Medical Center's goal is to improve maternal wellness and mental health by establishing an early recognition screening program and access to care. Its multidisciplinary perinatal mental health program is designed to provide prompt recognition and access to care for those at risk from onset of care through the first year postpartum.
A Best Practices Approach to Treating Maternal Hemorrhage
Titus Regional Medical Center, Mount Pleasant, Texas (February 2020)
Since implementing best practices related to maternal hemorrhaging, Titus Regional Medical Center’s maternal morbidity rate related to blood loss has been reduced significantly. The hospital employs a stage-based approach to maternal hemorrhage, simulates for staff emergent hemorrhage situations and provides intense education regarding the physiology of a hemorrhage.
Pregnancy-related Hypertension with Home Monitoring Digital Technology
Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa. (January 2019)
Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine improved the health outcomes of postpartum women with hypertension through its Heart Safe Motherhood program by enabling women whose pregnancies were complicated by high blood pressure to take their own blood pressure readings using a cuff provided by Penn as well as a mobile app. As a result, no women enrolled in the program were readmitted to the hospital within seven days of giving birth, compared to a 5 percent readmission rate among women monitored through in-person visits, and 60 percent of participating women reported their blood pressure readings while enrolled.
Services specific to perinatal mental health are sparse in Maryland, and those that exist are often difficult to access. In 2003, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore launched the Perinatal Depression Outreach Program to improve infant and maternal well-being through the identification and treatment of maternal mental health struggles.
Perinatal Addiction Treatment Program
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, N.H. (February 2017)
The number of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has increased as opioid use skyrocketed in the region. Keeping mothers and babies safe in the midst of the opioid crisis in northern New England is the goal of a new online toolkit being tested in eight regional hospitals.
In May 2014, the Ohio Governor’s Office of Health Transformation awarded MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland $395,170 in grant funding to reduce lengthy hospital stays and promote improved health outcomes for opiate-dependent mothers and their newborn babies. The funding was a part of a joint partnership between the Ohio Departments of Medicaid and Mental Health and Addiction Services called the Maternal Opiate Medical Support (MOMS) Project.
Institute for Diversity and Health Equity Spotlight Feature
CenteringPregnancy Care to Mitigate Racial Disparities Program
UnityPoint Health’s Methodist Hospital, Peoria, Ill. (January 2021)
The Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, works closely with health services organizations to advance health equity for all and to expand leadership opportunities for ethnic minorities in health management. The CenteringPregnancy Care to Mitigate Racial Disparities Program is an evidence-based prenatal care and peer support program designed to lower rates of preterm and low birth weight babies, ultimately eliminating existing racial disparities. The program facilitates discussion and support among women in a healthy way, offering a sense of community. It was developed with the support of many community stakeholders, ensuring the voices and needs of diverse community members are heard and addressed.
Spectrum Health’s Maternal Infant Health Program offers personalized services to help mothers and families have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Augmented by the federally funded Strong Beginnings program, which provides additional services to eligible African American and Hispanic women in Grand Rapids, Spectrum assists with locating health care services, finding transportation, and understanding the baby’s growth and development. The infant mortality among African Americans in Kent County fell by 46% in the past 12 years due in part to the Strong Beginnings community collaborative.
A Three-pronged Approach to Reducing Infant Mortality
First Year Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio (May 2019)
For decades, reducing infant mortality has been a long-standing challenge in the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. During 2015 alone,155 babies in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County died before reaching their first birthday, giving the county an infant mortality rate of 10.5 deaths per 1,000 live births—almost double the national rate. Even more alarming, the problem was concentrated among African-American families, where the infant mortality rate was three times that of Caucasian babies.
Reaching into the Community to Improve Maternal Health
Norwegian American Hospital, Chicago (May 2019)
A 200-bed acute-care facility, Norwegian American Hospital is situated in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, an immigrant community with a large Puerto Rican and South American population. Overall, Norwegian American’s patients have been largely underserved by health care and social services. Thus, as a community-based hospital, Norwegian American reinvests back into the neighborhood through programs, initiatives and outreach to serve low-income residents and the uninsured.
In 2001, a Samaritan Health Services (SHS) physician, Dr. Richard Wopat, recognized the need to improve birth outcomes of high-risk pregnant women in the region. In collaboration with various community and state partners, he started a pilot program in 2002 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center to ensure that the most vulnerable pregnant women had access to care and to screenings for special issues including medical, obstetrical, and psychosocial concerns. Today, the Samaritan Maternity Connection (MC) program is now implemented at all five of the SHS hospitals and the three county health departments.
Institute for Diversity and Health Equity Case Study
The Women in Neighborhood Network
Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich.
The Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, works closely with health services organizations to advance health equity for all and to expand leadership opportunities for ethnic minorities in health management. We have long believed that promoting diversity within health care leadership and tackling health disparities is critical to ensuring the highest quality of care for everyone.
The Women in Neighborhood Network empowers mothers and their support partners to help thrive along with their babies during the first year. This program piloted an enhanced model of group prenatal care with CHWs and Certified Nurse Midwives.
Through the use of apps, remote monitoring and video visits, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital targets prenatal and postpartum hypertension, expands access to maternal fetal specialists and increases patient engagement. These efforts have led to improved clinical outcomes and greater self-advocacy by patients.
The Welcome Baby Program is part of a community network of programs that work together to provide supportive services to families with newborns. Developed in partnership with First5LA, it is a voluntary, universally provided hospital and home-visitation program offered at no cost to pregnant and postpartum women.
Creating a Community Net for Vulnerable Women and Children
Mercy Health Fort Smith, Ark. (October 2018)
Mercy Health Fort Smith delivers approximately 2,500 babies annually. In this organization’s region, drug addiction, domestic violence and post-partum depression are a significant struggle among pregnant women, so the hospital’s leaders decided to address those issues directly.
Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) demonstrates its longtime commitment to families – especially mothers and children – by providing a variety of wide-ranging programs. Working within its diverse urban surroundings, YNHH partners with parents to support healthy children through initiatives both within the hospital and out in the community.
A Multi-Pronged Approach to the Opioid Crisis
Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, N.H. (February 2017)
In Catholic Medical Center’s Mom’s Place obstetrical unit, there has been almost a doubling in the percentage of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) since 2011. In the hospital’s Pregnancy Care Center, an innovative program named Roots was developed to engage pregnant mothers suffering from SUD so that they can have a safe pregnancy and ultimately deliver an infant who is not addicted.
Treating Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Rural Montana
St. Peter’s Health, Helena, Mont. (July 2021)
St. Peter’s Health, a non-profit health system in Helena, Montana, serves over 97,000 residents across five counties. In 2017, the rise of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression, postpartum psychosis and postpartum PTSD, prompted St. Peter’s Health to recognize gaps in postpartum care. The system’s Taking Care of You program connected more than 300 patients experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and their families, with community resources to support their needs. An effort in partnership with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, the Montana Coalition Inc.
Partnering to Improve Birth Outcomes in a Rural Community
Kearny County Hospital, Lakin, Kan. (March 2021)
In 2015, Kearny launched the Pioneer Baby program in partnership with KU School of Medicine-Wichita to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes by reducing pregnancy complications, premature births, low- or extremely high-birth weight, and cesarean sections while increasing breastfeeding rates. The hospital also tapped outside funding, such as grants and local large employers, to upgrade computer software and purchase a 4D ultrasound machine.
Working in the health care field for more than 20 years, Jan L. Ruma, director of the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, has witnessed how the highest-risk patients are the least likely to have access to evidence-based interventions. The recognition of that disparity is at the heart of the Pathways HUB model.
Reducing Infant Mortality: Maternal and Infant Outreach
Parkview Health, Fort Wayne, Ind. (December 2018)
The Maternal and Infant Outreach initiative is offered in partnership with multiple social services agencies aimed at reducing infant mortality by providing resources to expectant and new mothers, including Healthy Families, Associated Churches, A Hope Pregnancy Center, Beds and Britches, Etc., SCAN, and the Neighborhood Health Clinic.
The Healthy Beginnings program, in partnership with the Delaware Division of Public Health, brings together preconception care, which identifies and addresses risks to future pregnancy; pregnancy planning to guide women through the critical first steps that can set the stage for a healthy pregnancy; and prenatal care that promotes the well-being of mother and baby from conception to childbirth.
Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, N.H. (November 2018)
Sixteen years ago, Victoria Flanagan, R.N., M.S., and Michele Lauria, M.D., M.S., became increasingly alarmed as provider after provider closed vaginal-birth-after-a-caesarean (VBAC) programs across northern New England. In their clinical work, Flanagan and Lauria witnessed the burden such closures placed on women. Thus, what began as a collaborative project to investigate the VBAC issue for their master’s degree program evolved into what is now known as the Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network (NNEPQIN). Today, NNEPQIN consists of 43 organizations throughout New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine involved in perinatal care, including hospitals, state health departments, professional midwifery organizations, and the March of Dimes.
South Carolina suffers from a high rate of preterm birth, with 11.1 percent of women delivering prior to 37 weeks gestational age. There is also a racial disparity in rates of prematurity, with 14.1 percent of African-American women in South Carolina delivering preterm. To address these issues, Greenville Health System (GHS) partnered with the March of Dimes and the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to start implementing CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care at GHS and across the state.