March of Dimes recognizes Fitzgibbon Hospital for its work to give more babies a healthy start in life

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fitzgibbon Hospital has been recognized as one of only five hospitals in the State of Missouri for reducing the number of Early Elective Deliveries to 0 percent, a rate the hospital has maintained for 14 consecutive months. The Early Elective Delivery reduction included 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 Ronald A. Ott, president and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital.

Fitzgibbon Hospital developed processes of communication between clinic providers within Marshall Women's Care and the hospital's labor and delivery area known as The Women's Center to ensure that due dates were accurate and the patient would be more than 39 weeks gestation prior to scheduled delivery. The staff also worked to identify true medical indications for scheduled delivery before 39 weeks and worked to achieve buy-in from medical providers and staff. A reporting system also was implemented to notify the staff if a patient falls outside the 39 week gestation period.

This achievement was recognized through a banner presentation by the March of Dimes on Sept. 16. The program is a collaborative quality recognition in conjunction with the Missouri 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 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 extremely important. Babies aren't just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs," according to State Director of Program Services, Advocacy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter Trina Ragain. "The March of Dimes commends Fitzgibbon Hospital 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 5 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, which establishes strict medical guidelines for when a physician may schedule a delivery. Only 35 percent had such a 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 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

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 Fitzgibbon Hospital:

As a non-profit community hospital, Fitzgibbon Hospital is vital to the health and well being of the communities it serves. Fitzgibbon Hospital has served the residents of Saline County and surrounding communities for more than 90 years through a full array of specialties including obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedic and sports medicine, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, emergency medicine, mental health, surgery, family medicine and more.

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

About Missouri Hospital Association:

The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association 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:

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.

Contact Information: Diane Droege, state communications director, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter,, 314-513-9957. Trina Ragain, state director of program services, Advocacy and Government Affairs, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter,, 314-513-9963. Sharon Burnett, vice president of clinical and regulatory affairs, Missouri Hospital Association,, 573-893-3700. For more information, call Richard DeFord, PR/marketing coordinator, 660-831-3235 or