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29 Nov 22 108 1 0

Avera Receives Grant Funding to Improve Future Maternal Outcomes

Cool Story - Avera Receives Grant Funding to Improve Future Maternal Outcomes

Avera is one of four organizations countrywide to receive financing from the government Health Resources and Services Administration's Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program, or RMOMS (HRSA).

In South Dakota, the award will assist boost access to obstetrics services and improve outcomes like pre-term labor, low birth weight, infant mortality, and more by providing $1 million per year over four years for a total of $4 million.

Kimberlee McKay, MD, Clinical Vice President of Avera's OB-GYN Service Line, stated that the organization's main goal is to ensure parents and their unborn children are healthy throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Moms must have access to high-quality prenatal care and diligently manage issues like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes for that to occur.

In some isolated areas, a pregnant woman may have to travel several hundred miles to visit a specialist and up to an hour to see one. This entails lost productivity, time away from home and family, and frequent financial loss. Some women just decide not to receive prenatal treatment as a result of these obstacles.

Remote patient monitoring and telemedicine will be used by RMOMS-SD, along with socioeconomic determinants of health screening programs, coordination between various OB care components and available resources, and access to statewide wraparound services.

Government assistance, subsidized child care, dental care, and other services are examples of state-wide wraparound services, which are services offered by governmental, health care, and nonprofit organizations that improve the well-being of people and families.

The social determinants of health screening would consider things like having access to wholesome foods, having a suitable place to live, having reliable transportation, and having financial security.

The grant initiative targets tribal communities in eastern South Dakota and remote pregnant women who face considerable obstacles in accessing OB services and care at nearby hospitals.

Every year, thousands of babies are born within the Avera system, and nearly two-thirds of them take place in critical access or rural hospitals.

"In the past, Avera has successfully piloted the use of telemedicine to monitor and consult with patients who acquire gestational diabetes, and we've seen improved outcomes as a result," McKay said. These beneficial results have been reported since the start of Avera's virtual monitoring program for gestational diabetes in 2016:

• 27% fewer problems during vaginal birth

• 18% fewer problems from cesarean deliveries

• A decline in the proportion of newborns who are born at 4000 grams (approximately 8.8 pounds) or more

• The RMOMS award is a fantastic chance, according to McKay, to build on that body of work.

• Another component of RMOMS-SD is the creation of a strong data and assessment program that aids partners in understanding and addressing OB requirements in the area.

Avera is well-positioned to carry out the features of this award successfully because it is a highly integrated system. They are enthusiastic about how the data they collect may influence the future of OB care delivery in remote places and contribute to favorable outcomes.

The recipient of the grant, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will work with a wide range of partners, including regional centers in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, and Yankton, South Dakota; Avera@Home; Access Health; South Dakota Urban Indian Health; the South Dakota Department of Health and Department of Social Services; and Premier Inc. The Milbank Area Hospital Avera in Milbank, South Dakota, and the Avera St. Benedict Hospital in Parkston, South Dakota, will both benefit from project activities.

Although rural eastern South Dakota is the original target service area, Avera will eventually contemplate expanding its reach. This project initiative complements the HRSA OB Primary Care Training and Enhancement - Community Prevention and Maternal Health Grant, which was funded with $2.3 million through June 2026. The goal of this program is to promote OB training and to assist in retaining medical professionals in remote areas.

Avera has received more than $6.3 million in grants totaling these two to assist in the provision of maternity care. Through these grants, Avera will increase rural South Dakotans' access to OB services and doctors. As a result, more new moms and expectant mothers can receive high-quality care while remaining close to home.

Because people are so isolated in rural America, it's one of the hardest places to provide OB and prenatal care. According to McKay, women sometimes lack the financial means to travel or take time off work for routine exams. "We are grateful for federal grant support that enables us to create strategies to eliminate obstacles and enhance access to treatment in rural areas."

These initiatives are supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of two grants totaling roughly $6,368,834 million (RMOMS: $4,000,000 over four years; Primary Care Training: $2,368,834 over five years), with around 8% of the Primary Care Training award being funded by non-governmental sources. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. government.

Please visit HRSA.gov for further details.


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