March of Dimes and LHA Recognize Opelousas General Health System!





BATON ROUGE, LA, SEPTEMBER, 29, 2014 – Eighteen Louisiana hospitals have reduced the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy to meet March of Dimes criteria for hospital recognition. This will give more babies a healthy start in life, the March of Dimes says.

“We are proud of our hospitals and their expert team of physicians and nurses who recognized this opportunity to improve the quality of healthcare 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 LHA President and CEO Paul Salles.

Through the ongoing work that has occurred as a result of the partnership between the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Birth Outcomes Initiative, the Louisiana Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation Hospital Engagement Network (LHAREF HEN), and the March of Dimes, over 960 early elective deliveries have been prevented, which translates to an 83 percent reduction since the beginning of the initiative in 2012, according to data released from the LHAREF HEN. These efforts equated to $700,000 in direct cost savings, not including savings resulting from reductions in NICU utilization.

 “We are so grateful to the March of Dimes, the Louisiana Hospital Association and our Bayou Health plans for their dedication to improving birth outcomes for Louisiana newborns and their mothers. An 83 percent reduction in the number of early elective deliveries means that many more newborns may have fewer preventable health complications and could go home sooner with their parents,” said Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert. “This work, along with our commitment to stop paying for early elective deliveries before 39 weeks for Medicaid recipients, and the similar change implemented by Blue Cross Louisiana are making lasting impacts throughout our state.”

“The last weeks of pregnancy are very important.  Babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 weeks in the womb.  Important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs occurs in the last few weeks of pregnancy,” said Frankie Robertson March of Dimes State Director. “I commend these hospitals for improving the health of babies with their quality improvement efforts.”

Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year, and more than one million of those infants die as a result of their early births.  In Louisiana, 9,563 babies are born premature each year, and more than 450 infants die before their first birthday.

Babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifelong health challenges; such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and others. Even 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.

Through the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes has been spreading the word that “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait.” The March of Dimes Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait campaign urges women that if their pregnancy is healthy, it is best to wait and let labor begin on its own rather than scheduling their delivery; babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.

“We are very proud of the success that has come from this awareness campaign,” said Makesha Judson, state director of program services for the March of Dimes Louisiana Chapter. “Based upon the evaluation of this campaign, more women are agreeing with the messaging that if a pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to wait for labor to begin on its own instead of scheduling a c-section or induction.”

The March of Dimes and the Louisiana Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation commends the following hospitals who met the recognition criteria:

Abbeville General Hospital

CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital

Dauterive Hospital

East Jefferson General Hospital

Iberia Medical Center

Lafayette General Medical Center

Lakeview Regional Medical Center

Morehouse General Hospital

Opelousas General Health System

Ochsner Medical Center- Northshore

Touro Infirmary

Tulane-Lakeside Hospital

Woman’s Hospital

Women and Children’s Hospital (Lafayette)

Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women

North Oaks Medical Center

St. Francis Medical Center

These hospitals will be formally recognized in nine regional celebrations across the state.

The March of Dimes offers professional and consumer education materials about the importance of a full term pregnancy and the critical development of the brain, lungs, and other organs that occur during the last weeks of pregnancy.

For more information, please visit: and

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the 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 or Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

In 1966, the Louisiana Hospital Association Research & Education Foundation (LHAREF), a 501(c)(3) organization, was  created for education and research purposes, which has allowed Louisiana hospitals to gain access to additional expertise and resources through government grant activities and contracts focused on emergency preparedness, technology, and quality improvement initiatives. 

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