KCH maternity care team

Pictured: (L-R) Hannah Holt BSN, RN, Nursery Coordinator; Darcell Jones RN, C-EFM, IBCLC; Brittany Tutorow BSN, RN, Educator; Megan Smith BSN, RN, Director.

MOUNT VERNON – Knox Community Hospital’s Ann Schnormeier Center for Birthing Care is proud to be recognized by Anthem with a Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) for Maternity Care designation, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Racial and ethnic disparities are persistent and widespread across maternal healthcare, primarily driven by socioeconomic status, geographic location, and implicit provider bias.

Compared to similarly developed countries such as Canada, Germany, and Australia, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate (MMR), at approximately 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 time more likely to die from preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications compared to white women. 

To help address these gaps in care and to help ensure the better health of mothers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association enhanced its quality evaluation for the Maternity Care program to address key factors driving the United States’ maternal health crisis.

Those factors include preventable or treatable pregnancy-related conditions, high utilization of Caesarean sections, and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal healthcare. 

Overall, the cost of care episodes for vaginal and cesarean births at BDC+ facilities are 20 percent less than those at non-Blue Distinction Centers+ facilities. The rates of Episiotomies were 49 percent less those at Blue Distinction Centers (BDC and BDC+) than at those at non-Blue Distinction Centers (BDC and BDC+).

In 2018, BDC/BDC+ facilities across the country cared for more than 40 percent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercially insured women giving birth.

The Ann Schnormeier Center for Birthing Care is proud to be recognized by Anthem for meeting the rigorous Blue Distinction Centers+ quality selection criteria for maternity care set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

“Achieving this distinction is another way to signify how we are elevating care at KCH. This past year has been an extraordinary year of hard work, dedication, and growth. We look forward to growing, achieving, and providing the best patient-centered care for our community," Megan Smith, Director of the Ann Schnormeier Center for Birthing Care, said in a statement.

"We want to give our community the best, and we are setting our goals and striving to be the best for our local families.”

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, 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. Specifically, the rate for low-risk first time cesarean sections (NTSV c-section rate, PC-02) are aligned with the revised Healthy People 2020 goals.

Facilities eligible for the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity care show statistically significant differences in key clinical outcomes compared to their peers. 

Quality is key: only those health care facilities that first meet Blue Distinction’s nationally-established, objective quality measures will be considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+. 

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 healthcare 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. 

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated providers, visit www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

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