North Oaks achieves 'Birth Ready+' distinction

Members of North Oaks Medical Center’s Women and Children’s staff join with providers and leadership to celebrate the hospital’s designation as one of five “Louisiana Birth Ready Plus” birthing facilities and the only hospital on the Northshore so honored.

BATON ROUGE (AP) — North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond is among five that met the higher designation of “Birth Ready+” along with Ochsner Baptist Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Angels Hospital and Tulane Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children.

Eleven hospitals in the state are “Birth Ready” under standards set by the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative, a network of public health experts, advocates, doctors and other care providers.

The classifications grade hospitals on whether they meet certain benchmarks around maternal blood loss, cesarean sections, staff education and other factors that contribute to improved outcomes during pregnancy.

“These 16 hospitals went above and beyond,” said Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell, director of the collaborative.

Thirty of the 42 participating hospitals in the state’s collaborative applied for one of the two tiers of recognition. Seven of the state’s 49 hospitals were not eligible because they haven’t joined the collaborative.

The effort seeks to make births safer using metrics to judge whether a hospital is doing everything possible to ensure births don’t end in death or serious complications. Louisiana’s rate of pregnancy-related deaths in 2018 was 25.2 deaths per 100,000 live births – compared to the national rate of 17.4.

Among the requirements to meet the Birth Ready designation, fewer than 5 percent of deliveries can occur before 39 weeks, except in cases where it was medically necessary, according to the newspaper.

At least half of the patients at Birth Ready hospitals must be assessed for excessive bleeding risk, early blood loss and receive timely treatment for dangerously high blood pressure, all of which can be fatal if untreated. At Birth Ready+ hospitals, the requirement jumps to 80 percent for those measures.

Tamara Mitchell, director of Women & Children’s Services for North Oaks, said the new designation recognizes consistent, thoughtful health care improvement work that focuses on improving safety, equity and the promotion of dignified birth.

The 11 hospitals receiving the Birth Ready designation are: Baton Rouge General, Woman’s Hospital, Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, East Jefferson General Hospital, Jennings American Legion Hospital, Lane Regional Medical Center, Willis-Knighton South and the Center for Women’s Health, Christus Ochsner Lake Area Hospital, Ochsner LSU Health Monroe, Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport St. Mary Medical Center and Ochsner Medical Center Kenner.

Hospitals must reapply for the designation each year.

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