By Lori Newman, Brooke Army Medical Center Public AffairsAugust 3, 2018
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center is now accredited by the Centering Healthcare Institute as a CenteringPregnancy site.
According to the Centering Healthcare Institute website, CenteringPregnancy decreases the rate of preterm and low weight babies, increases breastfeeding rates, and leads to better pregnancy spacing. Engaging activities and facilitated discussions help patients to be more informed, confident and empowered to make healthier choices for themselves, their children and their families.
"The whole goal of centering is to provide support through group sessions for pregnant women and their partners so they get rich discussion and evidence-based education," Air Force Lt. Col. Kristi Norcross, certified nurse midwife.
"Nationally, Centering group prenatal care is very popular and it's becoming a growing trend in the Military Health System," Norcross explained. "To maintain the certification and the training is rigorous, but once you have the training completed and the program established the costs are significantly less."
BAMC began using the CenteringPregnancy model in May 2017 and since then more than 170 women have completed the program. On average, there are about 8 to twelve patients per group with multiple groups running simultaneously at various gestational ages.
The expecting mom starts in a centering group at the beginning of her prenatal care and remains in the group until she delivers. Each group has a reunion about six weeks after their delivery dates where birth stories are shared and memories are captured in photos.
Agnieszka Chauviere decided to join the centering group because she was new to the military family and to San Antonio.
"I thought it would be a good idea not only to have good prenatal care but also to meet new people at a similar stage in life," she said. "I attended the first session and met with a group of great women and providers. I enjoyed it a lot."
Most of the classes were attended by husbands or partners which helped to build understanding, better communication and solid relationships within the family, Chauviere added.
Books are provided to the participants so they can review the topics that will be discussed and prepare questions for the group facilitator or the provider. At Brooke Army Medical Center, facilitators are midwives, women's health nurse practitioners, residents and obstetric doctors.
"My favorite session included the tour of Labor and Delivery," she said. "It was very helpful to see the rooms' appearance and the available equipment likely to be used during labor. It helped me feel more prepared and confident."
Chauviere said the group was very supportive when she shared news about another health-related issue she was dealing with during her pregnancy.
"Many women in the group turned out to have other health-related challenges now or in the past, and my honesty helped them to open up with the group," she said. "As a result, some reached out with offers of support, and new friendships were formed."
Norcross agrees. "Our Centering facilitators co-manage high risk patients with Maternal Fetal Medicine or Obstetricians, so all pregnant women can share in this model of care and benefits."
"If you think about our unique population of military families, sometimes they don't have family or community support, so centering offers the women an opportunity to share their knowledge with each other," the nurse midwife said. "As a result, a lot of friendships are developed that last a lifetime."
The program has proved to be beneficial for the expectant families and military medicine, Norcross noted.
"In Texas the average rate for preterm births is 10 percent as compared to our Centering participant average was only 5 percent from May 2017-2018," she explained. Preterm birth is when a baby is born prior to 37 weeks. The estimated cost savings for BAMC in 2017 was more than $275,000.
"It is a huge advantage to the community of beneficiaries for Brooke Army Medical Center to offer a centering model of care," Norcross said.
BAMC is one of 10 medical treatment facilities working toward and earning accreditation.