Friday November 27th, 2015 11:05PM

NGHS recognized for reducing # of early deliveries of babies

By Staff
GAINESVILLE - Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) was recently selected to be blueprinted by VHA Inc. for its success in addressing early elective deliveries (EEDs) of newborns. While many hospitals nationally are at a 15% or higher EED rate, NGHS is below 5%. It is the first in the nation within the VHA membership to be blueprinted for EEDs.

It is not uncommon for moms to offer many reasons for wanting to deliver their babies before their due dates, and often those requests are accommodated. But, unless there is a medical reason for delivering before 39 weeks of pregnancy, an EED should be avoided, according to many experts.

Statistics show that rates of neonatal and infant mortality, respiratory problems, jaundice and admission to neonatal intensive care units are lowest when a pregnancy reaches 39 to 40 weeks. Convenience is often cited for delivering a baby early but allowing a baby to come to term gives it more time to grow and increases the likelihood of it being born healthy. A baby's brain, lungs and liver are still developing in those last few weeks.

The VHA Inc. Blueprinting Team, along with Cynthia Dixon, VP Performance Improvement and Sharon Ellis, Director Clinical Improvement at VHA Georgia, visited Northeast Georgia Medical Center last fall. During the visit, the VHA team met with the NGHS team of Jolinda Martin, CNO; Sara Dyer RNC, Director of W & C; Bridgette Schulman RNC, L & D Educator; Heather Standard RNC, Manager L & D; Candice Hollified RNC, CPN Administrator; Holt Harrison MD; Greg Martin MD, current OBGYN Department Chair; and Suzanne Jackson, CNM.

VHA presented an overview of the blueprinting process, after which NGHS demonstrated how it minimized EEDs at its hospital. As the hospital presented its example, VHA mapped out, or blueprinted, the process to visually display the steps that allowed NGHS to achieve success.

NGHS physicians, nurse midwives and staff took part in the presentation including Holt Harrison, MD, an OB/GYN with Heritage OB/GYN, who initiated the project; Greg Martin, MD, an OB/GYN with Lakeside OB/GYN and Pelvic Surgery and OB Section Chief, who provided continuing support throughout the life of the project; and Suzanne Jackson, CNM, a nurse midwife with the Center for Women's Health at The Longstreet Clinic, PC, who spoke about the importance of educating patients about the risks of EED starting with the first prenatal visit.

In her presentation, Dyer reiterated the critical role of physicians and nurse midwives to the project's success.

"Our ability to achieve such a low EED rate is due in large part to the work of our physicians and nurse midwives, as they guide the discussion of an elective delivery with their patients," she said. "Their support and leadership, along with the work of our staff, has made this possible, which is a great accomplishment for our hospital, and more importantly, our patients."

A VHA Blueprint is a one page visual diagram using standardized icons along with arrows and brief statements that show the key processes that were implemented to achieve success.

Other leading practice blueprints can be accessed through the VHA Blueprint Catalog. Go to and log in. In bottom right corner, click on IMPERATIVTM Portal, then hover over the Knowledge tab at top of page to see a drop down menu. Then click on Blueprint Catalog, which will show all of the VHA blueprints that are available.

For questions or if interested in having your hospital blueprinted, or to share a gem of knowledge or a creative practice, contact Sharon Ellis at 770-850-7433 or
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