Definition of language used in this news release:

  • Early term birth:   37-38 completed weeks gestation
  • Full-term birth:  refers to 39 to  41 weeks completed gestation
  • Preterm or premature birth:  before 37 completed weeks gestation

Community Hospital-Fairfax is recognized for reducing the number of elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. The 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 expert team of physicians and nurses who saw this opportunity to improve care 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 Roger Steinkruger, CEO.

This achievement is recognized through a banner from the March of Dimes and Missouri Hospital Association (MHA).

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.

According to Trina Ragain, State Director of Program Services, Advocacy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter, “The last weeks of pregnancy are extremely important.  Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs. “The March of Dimes commends Community Hospital-Fairfax for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”

A two year partnership between the March of Dimes Missouri Chapter and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) is achieving its goal of significantly reducing early elective deliveries (EEDs) by the end of 2014. Of the 46 participating birthing hospitals in Missouri, 78 percent report a rate of five percent or less and 61 percent have had no EEDs in the last six months of reported data.     

Additionally, of the 46 hospitals, 87 percent now have a “hard stop” policy in place which establishes strict medical guidelines for when a physician may schedule a delivery.  Only 35 percent had a hard stop policy in place before the MHA/March of Dimes collaboration began. The policy prohibits doctors from scheduling a delivery – either by induction or cesarean section – before the baby is at a confirmed 39 weeks gestation.  The policy applies to non-medically indicated (elective) deliveries only.

According to Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association, "In the best interests of the health of mothers and infants, Missouri's hospitals have been working to reduce early elective deliveries. This is one of many quality improvements they are aggressively pursuing to achieve the Triple Aim of better care, better health and lower costs.”  More information is available at marchofdimes.org/39weeks.

The March of Dimes has been providing support to MHA hospitals in the form of its Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait program which includes educational materials and other resources.  Susan Bushnell, State Director of the March of Dimes Missouri Chapter, said, “This data provides hard evidence that more Missouri babies are being born full term, giving them the healthiest possible start to life.  We hope that all of Missouri’s birthing hospitals will embrace this initiative and eliminate early elective deliveries.”

About Community Hospital-Fairfax

Community Hospital-Fairfax (CH-F) is a non-profit, critical access hospital serving acute, skilled and obstetrical patients since 1949. In addition to inpatient services, CH-F is proud to provide therapy, radiology, lab, respiratory therapy, specialty clinics and surgery to northwest Missouri. More information can be found at www.FairfaxMed.com

About March of Dimes

More than 4 million babies were born in the United States last year and the March of Dimes helped each and every one through more than 75 years of research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs. March of Dimes has awarded millions of dollars in Missouri and Illinois for research and programs to help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.  It is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.  With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com/Missouri

About Missouri Hospital Association

The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 154 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues.  For more information:  http://web.mhanet.com