Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Like a small beacon of light, hope shines from...New Jersey?!!

Amid all the clucking about rising C-section rates and accompanying risks what, really, is being done?

Word from inside sources is that the new University of Michigan women's hospital (currently under construction) will have state of the art operating bays to accomodate 50% surgical births. Presumably that means they 're planning on 50% vaginal births.

Allow me to reference the oft-quoted point that the World Health Organization aims for a 10-15% Caesarean rate in developing countries. Imagine Ann Arbor at that rate. Would the hospital even have space for all the vaginally birthing women? Would they permit their operating suites to sit empty while women slowly walked, squatted, bathed their way through labor?

To put my worry more realistically, will borderline cases more often get pushed to the surgery side?

I suggest many hospitals, not just the University of Michigan, send a crew to Plainfield, New Jersey's Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center. Somehow, it has attained a C-section birth rate under 16%.

I hoped to find clues to their rates at the hospital's website. I first noticed that they brag about their low C-section and high VBAC rates. As they should. I also noticed that CNMs deliver there. That could be part of the puzzle.

A bigger part may be that Muhlenberg does not appear to take high risk pregnancies. Not being from the area I cannot say for sure. But a search of the state's maternal and fetal medicine doctors comes up empty for Muhlenberg.

Even if that is true, I can't see how adding high-risk patients to the mix would make that much of a difference. High risk patients have to be a small part of the hospital's overall pool. So even if every MFM patient had a C-section (which they don't), one wouldn't expect the overall rate to double (which is what would need to happen for Muhlenberg to match national averages).

Anyway, food for thought. There are different ways to run hospitals and L&D units.

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8 Comments:

Blogger buttercup said...

Don't be so surprised about NJ. Wwe try not to let people know what a great state we live in. That's why we have the Turnpike (ick!)

Anyway -
The big birth centers here in Central NJ (where Muhlenberg is) would be St. Peters, Robert Wood Johnson and Somerset Medical. St. Pete's is the hospital all high risk pregnancys are referred to. Somerset Medical is trying to compete with St. Petes. I'd bet all high risk preganacies from the Plainfield area are being sent to St. Petes or RWJ.

Not being a Mom, I can't attest to that, but I can tell you that nephew #1 was high risk and was born at St. Pete's (C-section) and Nephew #2 was born at Somerset Medical (also a C).

Either way - it's nice to see that NJ is in the news for something positive.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Another New Jersey Hospital actually received an award partially developed by the ICAN (www.ican-online.org) for its excellent maternity care, partially including a low cesarean rate. Here's the news article:
http://tritown.gmnews.com/news/2006/0713/Business/

10:51 AM  
Blogger Sage Femme said...

wow, that's really amazing!

4:31 AM  
Blogger mama o' the matrices said...

Doulicia, I did a little asking around. Here's what I found:
http://breedingimperfection.blogspot.com/2007/09/boobies-bogeymen-and-babies-unabashedly.html

Doesn't look too good for Muhlenberg, I'm afraid.

11:14 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

mama o' the matrices, I read your post. interesting. Not surprising. I remember in Robbie Davis Floyd's book "Birth as an American Rite of Passage" she talked about how the lowest epidural rates were in hospitals with the highest number of poor (and uninsured) patients. I'm not saying poor women get great maternity care. But by not being offered the same amenities as insured women, they are actually avoiding some risks to themselves and their children. Muhlenberg might be an example of this, eh?

9:05 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Muhlenberg actually has about a 23% c-section rate and their vbac rate is only average (9%). The real gem in NJ for low c-section and high vbac rate is Kimball Medical Center. This site: http://www.nj.com/news/bythenumbers/ has all of NJ's hospital stats.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Following up to add that the article cited about NJ is completely and total inaccurate. NJ's c-section rate is 37%. Sadly, we have the highest c-section rate in the nation. I have emailed both the author and the editors of the NJ Courier News but they don't seem interested in correcting the information. The true info can be found here: www.nj.com/news/bythenumbers/

6:55 PM  
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