Lompoc Valley Medical Center: Hospital was recognized this week by the California Health and Human Services Agency for surpassing a federal goal aimed at reducing Cesarean births for first-time moms with low-risk pregnancies.
In California, 104 of 244 maternity hospitals achieved the “Healthy People 2020” goal in 2015. To receive the award, a hospital must achieve a C-Section rate of 23.9 percent or lower for low-risk, first-birth deliveries. LVMC’s rate in 2015 was 18 percent.
“The professional and collaborative environment at LVMC is the catalyst for this accomplishment,” said LVMC Chief Executive Officer James Raggio. “Our nursing staff, ancillary staff, and physicians all work together and are focused on providing the best possible care to our patients. Our community is extraordinarily fortunate to have such talented people caring for them.”
Between 1997 and 2015, California's overall C-section rates increased sharply, from 1 in 5 births (21 percent) to nearly 1 in 3 (32.2 percent). During that same period, low-risk, first-birth C-sections increased from 19 percent to 25.6 percent.
While potentially life-saving in certain circumstances, unnecessary C-sections can pose serious health risks for babies and mothers, said LVMC Quality Improvement Director Melissa DeBacker. Additionally, post-C-section recovery can be longer than vaginal birth and can involve increased post-birth pain.
“This goes well beyond reducing the numbers of women who have a primary cesarean,” DeBacker said. “This affects a reduction in the numbers of repeat cesareans at added risk and cost for hospitalization, time away from family and work due to hospitalization and recovery. This award is huge for our community.”
LVMC has put into place measures to limit inductions prior to 39 weeks unless medically necessary, and will not schedule C-Sections prior to 39 weeks in order to reach improved health outcomes.
This award indicates the entire staff of the OB Department, both nurses and physicians, have instituted every possible intervention to meet the Healthy People 2020 goal.
To respond to the rapid rise in unnecessary C-sections, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set the Healthy People 2020 goal of reducing nationwide C-section rates for low-risk, first-births to 23.9 percent. LVMC was the only hospital in Santa Barbara County acknowledged this week by HHS and one of only four in the tri-counties to receive the honor.
“One of the most important things we can do to make California’s health care system smarter is to help hospitals, physicians, and nurses ensure that C-sections are only performed when medically necessary,” HSS Secretary Diana Dooley. “These award recipients represent an honor roll of California hospitals and their clinicians who are leading the way toward safer births and healthier babies and mothers.”