NYC Health + Hospitals help launch prenatal care program

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 6/27/2019, 12:42 p.m.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, in partnership with Centering Healthcare Institute, launched a new program for pregnant women aimed at reducing preterm births and encouraging greater patient engagement during the prenatal experience. The program will feature group pregnancy visits with obstetricians, networking with other pregnant women, group discussions, and prenatal wellness and education classes on nutrition, stress management and breastfeeding. Improving maternal health has been a central focus of the de Blasio administration, and this effort builds on the efforts undertaken by NYC Health + Hospitals to ensure safe maternity care at all its hospitals.

“We are excited to offer expectant mothers an opportunity to share their experience with other new mothers and learn together about many topics they often have to navigate alone,” said Israel Rocha, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst CEO. “These prenatal group care sessions have been proven to help patients improve their self-confidence, decrease rates of preterm and low-weight babies, and contributes to the reduction of racial disparities in preterm birth.”

“We believe that these group care sessions will have a positive impact on the health of our patients and their families by empowering them with knowledge and supporting them in their pregnancies,” said Dr. Brenda Beloosesky, chief of ambulatory women’s health services (OB/GYN) at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. “This initiative provides expectant mothers not only with the health care needed to ensure a healthy and safe delivery, but also allows them to grow a network of support that can go beyond the initial stages of motherhood.”

All pregnant women are eligible to participate in the group care sessions and will be asked to join during their initial prenatal visit unless their pregnancy shows signs of being or becoming very high-risk. The sessions, which will begin at about 16-20 weeks gestation, will occur every four weeks until 28 weeks and then increase to every two weeks until delivery. Each session will include eight to 12 patients and run between 90-minutes to two-hours, including the visit with their OB/GYN, eliminating any wait time. All expectant mothers in one care group will be seen by the same OB/GYN, which will enhance the discussion portion of the group as well as the relationships made. The Centering Healthcare Institute provides curriculums that physicians will follow to ensure they are covering all topics ranging from nutrition to common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, infant care and more.

“Studies show that prenatal care benefits both the mother and the child,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “By enabling women to receive covered comprehensive prenatal care, we are showing our commitment to improving maternal health. I want to thank NYC Health + Hospitals and the staff at Centering Healthcare Institute for their dedication and hard work. I represent many immigrants who rely on Elmhurst Hospital for their healthcare.”

“I welcome this new prenatal care program to my district,” said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. “Now women throughout Queens will have access to the quality prenatal care they need and deserve. NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst leads the way in improving maternal health in our borough. I will continue to support the hospital’s transformative work in every way possible.”

The Centering Healthcare Institute’s “Centering Pregnancy” initiative complements existing NYC Health + Hospitals maternal and infant health programs, which includes home visits, provides assistance with breastfeeding techniques, parenting and child care skills for the growing family, postnatal care for mom and infant, specialized services for babies born with abnormalities who require additional care, and specialized care for moms who continue to experience post-partum complications.

The new group care “Centering Pregnancy” initiative also builds on the City’s significant commitment to improve maternal health with increased screening for maternal depression through the ThriveNYC Maternal Depression Learning Collaborative, and the creation of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, which reviews deaths and severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. In 2016, New York City became the first municipality in the nation to establish a severe maternal mortality surveillance program.

Funding for implementation of the NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst’s Centering program came from a grant from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as part of the agency’s NYC Birth Equity initiative.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst treats about 3,900 pregnancy patients annually.

For more information, please call NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at 718-334-5410.