Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith metro hospitals recently expanded their work to improve maternal health outcomes during pregnancy and postpartum.
According to the most recent statistics assembled from 2018-2020, Arkansas averages 40 maternal deaths per 100,000 births, ranking the state 50th among 50 states.
On Aug. 30, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced a statewide hospital collaboration that aims to prevent maternal deaths. More than 35 hospitals are part of the Arkansas Perinatal Quality Collaborative.
Following are the Northwest Arkansas hospitals in the collaborative: Baptist Health–Fort Smith, Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital, Washington Regional Medical Center and Willow Creek Women’s Hospital.
In its first initiative to prevent maternal deaths, the collaborative will work with hospitals over the next two years to reduce cesarean deliveries for low-risk pregnancies. Arkansas ranks 14th in the nation in cesarean deliveries, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. These deliveries can increase a patient’s risk of infections, blood clots and complications in future pregnancies.
The collaborative provides education and resources to health providers at participating hospitals to promote high-quality maternity care. It will determine its next initiative based on provider input.
In another effort to address maternal health, Northwest Health recently expanded its maternity bracelet program to include Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville and Siloam Springs Regional Hospital. The goal of the program, which also includes Willow Creek Women’s Hospital, is to extend care beyond the hospital after new mothers leave the building. The program encourages postpartum mothers to wear a silicone bracelet for up to a year that shows where they delivered their child in the event of an emergency.
“Northwest understands that 53% of pregnancy-related deaths occured from seven to 365 days postpartum,” said Keilia Kelly, labor and delivery supervisor at Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville. “The bracelets are a reminder of recent delivery for all providers. We are educating EMTs, emergency departments and convenient care clinics to be mindful of these bracelets and recognize a mother’s postpartum status.”