South Florida Hospital News
Sunday June 13, 2021
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June 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 12
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Florida’s Hospitals Focused on Reducing C-Section Rates

Following the just-convened state legislative session, pregnant women eligible for Medicaid can now keep that coverage for a full year post-partum. The measure passed as part of the state budget with bipartisan acknowledgement that new mothers’ health and reducing maternal morbidity and mortality depend, in part, on access to quality health care.

Florida’s hospitals wholeheartedly supported this proposal as it reflects their longstanding commitment to giving every baby the best start in life and every pregnant woman the best care she needs for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
 
The causes of maternal morbidity and mortality are many and complex. In Florida, there were 28.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Health. Tragically, many of these deaths are avoidable.
 
Florida’s hospitals are dedicated to doing all they can to reduce pregnancy risks and promote healthy deliveries.
 
One example of that commitment is their ongoing work with the Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health, and Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative to reduce C-section rates as part of the national Healthy People initiative. In March 2021, that work expanded with the launch of My Birth Matters Florida, a consumer- and health care provider-focused educational campaign on the risks of unnecessary C-sections and to promote vaginal deliveries when possible. The campaign, which is being championed by State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, offers free educational materials and resources for parents and providers, including posters, brochures, videos, and social media messages.
 
While lifesaving in certain cases, medically unnecessary C-sections can pose serious health risks for women such as hemorrhage, uterine rupture, cardiac events, and increased postpartum readmissions; and for babies, complications include infection, respiratory issues, and longer hospital stays in the neonatal intensive care unit. Women who deliver via c-section for her first birth have a much greater chance of having a C-section for subsequent births, increasing their risk for major complications.
 
The national Healthy People 2030 initiative goal for C-section deliveries for low-risk females with no prior births is 23.6 percent.
 
Florida has been making strides to reduce its C-section rate. Between 2015 and 2019, the rate decreased nearly a full percentage point, from 37.3 percent to 36.5 percent. In late 2020, AHCA and DOH recognized 15 Florida hospitals for meeting or exceeding the Healthy People 2020 goal for C-section deliveries (23.9 percent). An additional 10 hospitals were given an honorable mention for being within 1 percent of meeting the target goal.
 
Just like raising a baby, it takes a village to address all of the factors that contribute to poor maternal health. Florida’s hospitals are committed to leading the way and to delivering a healthier beginning and a healthier future for moms and babies. They are doing their part to encourage women to talk with their physicians about avoiding C-sections when medically unnecessary. The My Birth Matters campaign is just one way Florida’s hospitals are making Florida the healthiest place for moms and babies.

Mary Mayhew is President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.

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