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Methodist Health System Wins Statewide Award for Community Service
Posted By Carissa Carroll On February 6, 2012 @ 4:55 pm In Announcements,News Feed,Things To Do,Upcoming Events | Comments Disabled
In 2008, Methodist Health System in Dallas created its Life Shines Bright Pregnancy Program with the goal of reducing the number of pre-term births in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. In recognition of the program’s successes, the Texas Hospital Association has named Methodist Health System a winner of its 2011 Excellence in Community Service Award. Pamela Stoyanoff, chief operations officer for Methodist Health System, will accept the award Feb. 2 during THA’s Annual Conference and Expo in Austin.
When the Life Shines Bright program was created, the Methodist Dallas Medical Center service area’s pre-term birth rate was 20 percent, more than twice the national average. Today, the pre-term birth rate for the program’s 300-plus participants is just over 6 percent. The program also saves hospital costs, as well as long-term health care costs associated with pre-term babies.
The Methodist program is based on a March of Dimes-supported model for prenatal care, CenteringPregnancy®. The model integrates three major components of care – health assessment, education and support – into one unified program within a group setting. Groups of 10-12 women of similar gestational age meet 10 times during their pregnancies for two hours each time to learn care skills and participate in facilitated discussions.
“What’s important is the educational component. In the usual individual appointment model of prenatal care, a woman might spend two hours with her care provider over the entire course of her pregnancy,” said Stephen Patrick, M.D., residency program director for obstetrics/gynecology and OB/GYN department chair for Methodist Dallas Medical Center and the Methodist Dallas Golden Cross Academic Clinic which houses the program. “In the group model, the women spend 20 hours with their caregiver, more than 10 times the amount of education and care they would otherwise get.”
In addition, the women have a chance to form a social network with others who are going through a similar experience. “Since the women are at the same stage in their pregnancies, they often have similar problems,” said Darlene Howl, a nurse practitioner who is board certified in women’s health and helped Dr. Patrick and the Methodist Health System Foundation initiate the Life Shines Bright Program. “I see a lot of teen mothers, both in the program and individually. The girls who aren’t in the program are much more isolated and apprehensive. Every little pain is seen as abnormal. In the group, the girls learn that much of what they are experiencing is normal,” she explained. The group also affords the women a chance to learn what to expect in labor and delivery.
The program addresses a wide variety of social and practical needs in addition to prenatal care. Participants tend to be young – many in their teen years – with few life skills, and they often need help overcoming relationship abuse, lack of income and transportation, and a host of other challenges.
The program also helps prepare the fathers for parenthood. “We have volunteers who mentor the fathers and teach them how to raise a child and what to do to comfort a crying child. We want to help prevent shaken baby syndrome,” Patrick said. “We see more father participation in the families that are in the groups.”
Besides supporting the well-being of the child and family, the program saves money. Hospital care for a preterm baby averages $77,000, according to the March of Dimes. The Life Shines Bright Pregnancy Program has prevented 24 preterm births, saving approximately $1.8 million.
“You’ve also prevented a lot of the problems pre-term babies face, such as difficulty with reading, brain development, seeing, hearing, infections and asthma,” said Patrick. “Cerebral palsy is common among pre-term babies, and the cost of care over a lifetime can be huge. The medical savings from preventing one pre-term birth can be multimillions of dollars.”
“Medicaid doesn’t normally reimburse for the time spent in patient education, but because the program has proved to save money, the Texas Medicaid program has approved reimbursement for the group visits,” Patrick said.
The Methodist Health System Foundation has raised approximately $3.5 million for the program, which will allow it to double its capacity in 2012.
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