Wellmark Recognizes Brookings Health for Delivering Quality, Affordable Maternity Care

Posted: 3/10/2016

Obstetrics Nurse Amanda Anderson listens to the heart and lungs of Alyssa Laufmann’s newborn daughter, Adalyn, during their recent stay at Brookings Health System’s OB unit, New Beginnings Birth Center. Brookings Health System recently received the Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care designation from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care hospitals are recognized for delivering quality specialty care safely and effectively and for meeting cost efficiency requirements.Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Brookings Health System as one of the first hospitals in South Dakota to receive the Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care designations under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Six other hospitals in South Dakota were designated Blue Distinction Centers+ and two others were designated Blue Distinction Centers.

“We are proud to receive this recognition from Wellmark,” said Obstetrics Director Mary Schwaegerl. “Our entire team is committed to providing the best care for moms and babies alike and to upholding the standards of our Baby-Friendly Hospital Designation we earned last fall.”

Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. This new maternity care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and respiratory failure, among other conditions. These babies also have a higher rate of admission to Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care are hospitals recognized for delivering quality specialty care safely and effectively, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community. To receive a Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care designation, a hospital must meet the same quality criteria as Blue Distinction Centers while also meeting requirements for cost efficiency.

In addition, hospitals that receive a Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care, as well as having initiated programs to promote successful breastfeeding, as described in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative by Baby-Friendly USA or the Mother-Friendly Hospital program by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) through its “Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care.” The program also evaluates hospitals on overall patient satisfaction, including a willingness to recommend the hospital to others.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs. Research shows that, compared to other facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost-efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated health care facilities. More information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program may be found at www.bcbs.com/bluedistinction.

Brookings Health System’s OB unit, New Beginnings Birth Center, provides full OB services to expectant parents and enables area residents to deliver their baby close to home with a local physician. To learn more, please visit www.brookingshealth.org/OB.

About Brookings Health System

Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home, Brookhaven Estates senior living apartments, Yorkshire Eye Clinic, Arlington Medical Center, White Medical Clinic and Volga Medical Clinic. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, surgical and extended care services. The emergency room is staffed 24 hours a day and provides around the clock patient needs ranging from minor injuries to life threatening crises. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at brookingshealth.org.

About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Distinction Centers

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable health care. Each facility’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.