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Boston Agency Awards Centering Pregnancy Program

Reading, Pa., March 28, 2016
The centering pregnancy program at Penn State Health St. Joseph got another big endorsement this week when the Boston-based Centering Healthcare Institute gave official site approval to the Bern campus location following an extensive review. It is the only program in Berks County to be officially recognized as an approved centering site.

Kimberly Hunter, MSN, RN, OB Nurse Navigator, said that site approval is “national recognition that the Penn State Health St. Joseph centering program exhibits all the essential elements that define the Centering model of care, has solid plans for model sustainability, and has a positive impact on healthy birth outcomes.”

“By being a part of this national elite group,” she continues. “We have a wide network and resources available to help our program to continue to be successful. In the 4 years we have been doing Centering, our program has proven to decrease the incidence of premature and low birth weight babies, which ultimately leads to healthy moms, healthy babies and, overall, a healthier community.”

While the traditional model of prenatal care is given one-on-one by a provider in a private examination room in an office or clinic setting, Centering Pregnancy is an innovative model in a group setting that includes self-monitoring and extended time with the provider. It integrates three major components of care: health assessment, education, and support. Expecting moms are placed in a group of 8-12 other women due within the same month, and they attend group sessions until it is time to deliver. They are seen by a prenatal provider as they would be in a traditional appointment, and their exams take place in a private section of the Centering room during their group sessions. After all the women have been examined, they gather in a circle for group discussions about pregnancy related topics led by expert facilitators.

“This is not just for first-time moms,” adds Hunter. “Experienced moms enjoy sharing their pregnancy and parenting knowledge to add to the group discussion.”

Studies have shown that knowledge about pregnancy is greater in Centering groups when compared to traditional prenatal care.

Tanya Munroe, Regional Director for the Centering Healthcare Institute, said the centering program “demonstrated fidelity to the Centering model of care” noting that “it is unusual for any site to receive full approval with their initial application.” Munroe noted that the Institute’s site surveyor found “profound institutional support for the growth of Centering and (the) attention to quality was obvious in all aspects.” She offered congratulations on the program’s one percent pre-term birth rate and 100 percent patient satisfaction rate further noting “St. Joseph is an exemplary Centering site and one of the most well-poised for continued success” of the 200 approved sites nationally.

St. Joseph’s program – with offerings in both English and Spanish at our Downtown Reading Campus and forming the first group at the Bern Campus – includes educational sessions that consist of: prenatal nutrition, dental health, healthy relationships, labor preparation, pain management during labor, breastfeeding, post-partum depression, bonding with your baby, preventing SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome, and newborn care.

In 2015, Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Centering Pregnancy program received the Community Champions Achievement Award from The Hospital and Health System Association System of Pennsylvania (HAP).