Archive for February, 2014

Northfield Hospital recognized for reducing early elective deliveries

Northfield Hospital’s First Touch Birth Center was recently recognized by the March of Dimes and Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) for its commitment to reducing early elective deliveries.

Research shows that important development takes place for a baby’s brain and lungs during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Yet according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), early elective deliveries — which include inductions and planned Cesarean sections that are not medically necessary — still account for 10 to 15 percent of all deliveries nationally.

Hospitals in Minnesota and across the nation are working to end elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestation. Minnesota passed a law in 2012 requiring hospitals to implement policies and processes to minimize non-medically necessary early inductions. Northfield Hospital was one of 35 Minnesota hospitals recognized by MHA’s Partnership for Patients program for reducing the rate of early elective deliveries to 5 percent or less in 2013.

Annette Sheldon, RN, director of First Touch Birth at Northfield Hospital, said the birth center has had such a policy in place for almost 10 years.

Last year, 548 babies were delivered at Northfield Hospital. None of these were scheduled for an induction or Cesarean birth before 39 weeks without a medical indication.

“Occasionally women may request early elective deliveries for social reasons or because they are uncomfortable,” Sheldon said. “However, we find that when they are made aware of the data showing that babies have fewer complications when they are born after 39 weeks, they are usually happy to wait.”

Sheldon said babies born electively before 39 weeks are more likely to have breathing issues, difficulty feeding, and jaundice, and they may have a longer hospital stay.

Through its Partnership for Patients program, Minnesota Hospital Association provides education and technical assistance for members to improve on quality health care initiatives and foster a culture of safety in Minnesota hospitals.

For more information or questions, go to: http://www.mnhospitals.org/patient-safety/partnership-for-patients.

 

 

 

 

This is ‘congenital heart defect’ awareness week

A congenital heart defect (CHD) seems like an exotic, anomalous medical condition. Yet, each year it claims more children’s lives than all childhood cancers combined. And CHD remains the leading cause of all birth-defect related deaths

Forty thousand babies are born with CHD each year. The cost of care is staggering. Approximately 25 percent of those born with CHD will need surgery or other complex interventions to survive.

In 2009, roughly $1.5 billion was spent in the United States alone on 27,000 hospital stays for children treated primarily for CHD. The hospital cost for roughly 12,000 adults with CHD was at least $280 million.

Because of improvements in early diagnosis and care, more CHD patients are surviving. Advocacy groups estimate between two and three million people in the United States are living with this condition.

To raise more awareness about CHD and its cost to families and society , the week of February 7-14 has been declared Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Gov. Mark Dayton lent his support to the campaign by signing a state proclamation acknowledging this initiative. In the proclamation, he said it provides an opportunity for families to share their experiences and knowledge of CHD and to build awareness.

 Ben Flannery, MD, a pediatrician and medical director for FamilyHealth Medical Clinics, says early diagnosis is critical to improving outcomes for those born with heart defects. For the past eight years, Northfield Hospital’s First Touch Birth Center has been testing infants’ oxygenation, a key indicator of the heart’s performance, at the mother’s bedside. If readings are consistently below a threshold an echocardiogram is performed in the nursery.

 “Early identification of congenital heart defects is the key to avoiding severe and life threatening medical complications in these newborn babies,” said Dr. Flannery. “At Northfield Hospital, we use pulse oximetry testing on all newborns to help identify abnormalities that may not otherwise be apparent on a standard newborn physical exam.”

For more information, go to: http://www.chphc.org/hostedsites/Pages/default.aspx.

Reading to kids has many benefits

Reading to children — even infants — is a great way to increase their brain development, enhance their language skills and put them on a path to academic success.

Kelly Meyer, DO, a pediatrician with FamilyHealth Medical Clinic, says reading is a great way to support children’s intellectual and emotional development.

“Reading has so many benefits,” she said. “It strengthens the parent-child bond while aiding the cognitive development that will serve them for a lifetime.”

When parents read to their children, Dr. Meyer says, they are building pathways in the brain that are critical to successful reading experiences. Reading also helps children develop auditory perception that allows them to think about how words sound.  It increases their attention spans and their ability to focus to what is being said. And, reading makes children more curious.

So much of the intelligence children will ultimately have is developed before they even get to kindergarten. By the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk.

According to Dr. Meyer, hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby’s brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.

When parents read to their children, they hear many different emotions and expressive sounds, which foster social and emotional development. Reading also invites infants to look, point, touch, and answer questions — all of which promote social development and thinking skills. Infants improve language skills by imitating sounds, recognizing pictures, and learning words.

Reading to young children is one of the very best things parents can do for them, Dr. Meyer said.

“The touch, the voice recognition, all the love and attention packaged in the act of reading is a big plus for kids,” she said.

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