East Jefferson General Hospital is one of only eighteen Louisiana hospitals to have reduced the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy to meet March of Dimes criteria for hospital recognition. This will give more babies a healthy start in life, the March of Dimes says.
“We began this initiative because we saw the great benefits to both mother and child by ending elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks,” said Dr. Mark Peters, President and CEO of East Jefferson General Hospital. “There is no question it was a tremendous collaboration between our nursing staff, physicians and administrators, but we knew it was the right thing to do. I think the results indicate a healthier start for our babies, and we are proud to have been on the leading edge of bringing this program to our community.”
Through the ongoing work that has occurred as a result of the partnership between the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Birth Outcomes Initiative, the Louisiana Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation Hospital Engagement Network (LHAREF HEN), and the March of Dimes, over 960 early elective deliveries have been prevented, which translates to an 83 percent reduction since the beginning of the initiative in 2012, according to data released from the LHAREF HEN. These efforts equated to $700,000 in direct cost savings, not including savings resulting from reductions in NICU utilization.
“We are proud of our hospitals and their expert team of physicians and nurses who recognized this opportunity to improve the quality of healthcare 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 LHA President and CEO Paul Salles.
Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year, and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births. In Louisiana, 9,563 babies are born premature each year, and more than 450 infants die before their first birthday.
Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges; such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Even babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Recent 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.
“The last weeks of pregnancy are very important. Babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 weeks in the womb. Important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs occurs in the last few weeks of pregnancy,” said Frankie Robertson March of Dimes State Director. “I commend EJGH and these hospitals for improving the health of babies with their quality improvement efforts.”