Pictured, from left, Tammy Jarvi, RN, Birth Center; Michelle McMurphy, RN, Birth Center; Dave Albrecht, Owatonna Hospital president; Dr. Mark Reimer, Mayo Clinic Health System-Owatonna OBGYN; Laurie Ridgley, Birth Center manager; and Anne Draeger, director of Patient Care.
Owatonna Hospital, part of Allina Health, is recognized for reducing the number of elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries performed before a full-term—or 39 completed weeks—of pregnancy. March of Dimes says this will give more babies a healthy start in life. Babies delivered before full-term are at increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life.
"We're proud of our dedicated team of physicians and nurses who responded to this opportunity to improve care in our community by putting in place policies and processes to avoid scheduling elective inductions or Cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary," said Dave Albrecht, Owatonna Hospital president.
This achievement is recognized through a banner from the March of Dimes and Minnesota Hospital Association.
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 early-term infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to full-term babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.
"The last weeks of pregnancy are important. Babies aren't just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs," says Lawrence Massa, March of Dimes Board Member and Minnesota Hospital Association President and CEO. "I commend Owatonna Hospital for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort."
In partnership with the Minnesota Hospital Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes has been getting out the word that "Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait." The campaign urges women to wait for labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy, rather than scheduling delivery before full-term or 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.
In Minnesota, March of Dimes worked with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and hospitals to adopt policies against medically unnecessary early-term deliveries before 39 weeks. This change went into effect in January 2012. Minnesota Hospital Association numbers show the number of early elective deliveries has decreased by 87 percent.
The March of Dimes offers professional and consumer education materials about the importance of a full term pregnancy and the critical development of the brain, lungs and other organs that occur during the last weeks of pregnancy. More information is available at marchofdimes.com/39weeks.