Aroostook County – As the New Year begins, TAMC officials are celebrating news about the hospital’s high rankings when it comes to new arrivals. A recent independent survey ranks TAMC among the top Maine hospitals in three measured categories related to maternity care.
Rankings from independent industry watchdog Leapfrog and the Maine Health Management Coalition Foundation (MHMC-F) show the Women and Children’s Unit at the Presque Isle hospital meets or exceeds industry standards in all three of the ranked categories – early elective delivery, episiotomy and maternity care processes.
“The ratings TAMC received confirms that we strive to deliver safe, evidenced based, and exceptional care to the people of Aroostook County,” said Pamela Lilley, manager of Women and Children’s Health.
The nationally recognized Leapfrog Group gathers and processes information from hospitals nationwide to provide the public with a published standard for patients to compare a hospital’s performance on safety, quality and performance. Once Leapfrog processes the results of their surveys, then MHMC-F assigns rankings and makes those results available to the public in a statewide publication.
“Maine is the only state in the country where 100 percent of the hospitals participate in the survey. We’ve been really pleased with that,” said Senior Director of Hospital Ratings for Leapfrog Group Melissa Danforth. “We have about 200 rural hospitals across the country and we often use Maine hospitals as an example.”
The three categories for which Leapfrog collected data each reflect nationally recognized safety standards in delivering babies.
“Early elective delivery discourages babies from being born before 39 weeks. Evidence supports that it is safest to deliver your baby after 39 weeks because important fetal development takes place for the baby’s brain and lungs even during the last week of pregnancy. A due date can also be off by as much as two weeks, sometimes even making a difference between 35 weeks and 37 weeks gestation. These are crucial weeks of development for a baby,” said Lilley.
Danforth said the national goal is to have an early elective rate of 5 percent or less and that TAMC’s below-target result of 3.4 percent is impressive for a rural hospital. TAMC recognizes there is always room for improvement, though, and hospital officials consistently review policies and procedures seeking out areas to implement those improvements.
“We currently score ‘better’ for our Early Elective Delivery Rate. We continue to strive to do better at TAMC and are working very hard to schedule all of our recurring cesarean sections after 39 weeks gestation. We noticed over the last year that some of our cesarean sections were being done after 38 weeks, but just before 39 weeks, missing the cutoff by a day or two,” said Lilley.
Another rating area – the episiotomy rating – is reported to monitor whether episiotomies are being done on a routine basis or are being done because an extensive vaginal repair seems likely, the baby is in a bad position, or whether or not the baby needs to be delivered quickly. This procedure can cause the mother to have increased discomfort along with increased risk for infection with no benefit to her or the baby if doctors perform it needlessly, according to Lilley.
“It is clear with the ‘Best’ ranking TAMC received in this area that we have the patient’s health and safety at the forefront during deliveries,” said Lilley.
TAMC also received the “Best” ranking in the final category – Maternity Process Care. This category measures whether or not all newborns are screened for jaundice and whether or not precautions are taken to ensure that hospitals attempt to prevent the formation of blood clots in pregnant women undergoing cesarean section.
“Sequential Compression Devices are ordered on all of our patients undergoing cesarean sections to prevent blood clots and 100 percent of our babies are screened for jaundice using our TCB meter,” said Lilley.
Maine Health Management Coalition Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission it is to bring the people who get care, pay for care, and provide care together in order to measure and improve the quality of health care services in Maine. By publicly reporting quality information on Maine doctors and hospitals, the MHMC-F hopes to empower the public to make informed decisions about the care they receive.
“As a hospital, we continue to look at the data and determine what we can improve on to ensure our patients are getting the care they deserve,” said Lilley.