In May 2021, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds proposed a Centers of Excellence pilot program to encourage innovation and collaboration among regional health care providers and access to maternal care for expectant mothers and their babies in Iowa. The St. Anthony Birth Place has been chosen to receive one of only two grants awarded in Iowa this year.
Fifty of Iowa’s 99 counties provide obstetric (OB) services, and the number of hospitals with OB doctors on staff has decreased over the last several years. Since 2000, 34 hospitals have closed OB services due to declining population and inability to recruit and retain physicians willing or able to provide OB care. Hospitals and health care providers are struggling to sustain all the services they’ve historically offered. Changing how and where care is delivered by leveraging resources regionally can improve access to care in rural areas of our state.
“This Centers of Excellence grant will help to ensure that quality health care remains accessible, affordable and close to home,” said Ed Smith, President and CEO of St. Anthony. “The recent trend toward closing OB units in rural areas has created challenges for families who want to expand. Even before this grant became available, St. Anthony has been developing partnerships in surrounding communities to support those prospective parents.”
The grant of $212,500 will be used toward updating The Birth Place, including new furniture in the birthing suites and nursery. New equipment such as fetal monitors and phototherapy equipment will be purchased. Birth Place staff will have opportunity to become certified OB nursing providers. Additional lactation and parenting training will be offered, both in person and online.
“We are so excited to receive this grant and enhance our services. Families from nine counties count on St. Anthony as their hospital to deliver babies,” said Ginny Uhlenkamp, Director of The Birth Place. “For families coming from outside of Carroll County, following delivery, mothers and babies will be transitioned to their local providers for ongoing care.”
The outreach coordinator for St. Anthony Birth Place, Ashleigh Wiederin in conjunction with Ginny Uhlenkamp, are developing education/outreach programs that will be held in neighboring communities, with a goal of letting families know they do not have to travel to urban areas to receive high quality OB/Maternal health services. Four outreach programs will be held in the region before June 30, 2022.
There is potential for continued funding for the Centers of Excellence in future years.
Pictured in the photo representing the care of The Birth Place are left to right: front row - Adriana Mendoza, nurse, Brooke Little and her daughter, Emerald. Standing - Ashleigh Wiederin, Outreach Coordinator, Amber Mahrt, Alison King, Sara Knobbe, nurses, and Ginny Uhlenkamp, The Birth Place Director.
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