VCU Receives Grant to Study Model of Care for Reducing Poor Birth Outcomes
University Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University has received a Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services totaling more than $1 million. This translational research project will examine the effectiveness of the Centering Pregnancy® model of care in reducing poor birth outcomes among high risk Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries.
The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative, a joint effort between CMS, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Administration of Children and Families, aims to test the effectiveness of specific enhanced prenatal care approaches. The goal of the initiative is to determine if these approaches of care can reduce the preterm births, improve the health outcomes of pregnant women and newborns and decrease the anticipated total cost of medical care during pregnancy, delivery and over the first year of life for children born to mothers in Medicaid or CHIP. Preterm births cost the American health care system more than $26 billion annually.
Researchers from VCU will work in collaboration with four provider sites, including the Richmond Health District, Manassas Midwifery Women’s Health Center, Greater Prince William Community Health Center and Shenandoah Women’s Healthcare, to compare the Centering Pregnancy, or CP, model with other prenatal care models.
“The findings of this project will have wider health care and policy implications,” said Saba Masho, M.D., Dr.P.H., principal investigator of the project and associate professor of Family Medicine and Population Health in the VCU School of Medicine. Masho is an expert in health disparities and comprehensive care for underserved pregnant women.
The CP prenatal care model is designed to address individual clinical, lifestyle and behavioral problems facing pregnant women by incorporating comprehensive prenatal care, including individual risk assessment and management, targeted education and group support.
“VCU was an early adopter of Centering Pregnancy and offers it to expecting women in our midwifery, general OB, affiliated health department and high risk OB practices,” said David Chelmow, M.D., chair of the VCU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “The OB/GYN department is very excited about collaborating on the project to further expand and better understand the benefits of Centering Pregnancy and improve birth outcomes for Richmond families.”
By expanding the support system provided by the CP prenatal care model, the project aims to improve birth outcomes and reduce associated costs among those receiving CP compared to other care models.
“The Strong Start grant means that Richmond Health District will be able to continue Centering Pregnancy. CP is a wonderfully creative and effective model of group prenatal care that empowers women, enhances their knowledge of themselves and pregnancy while establishing strong relationships between patients and providers,” said Lynette Galloway-Branch, centering clinician with the Richmond Health District.
The project was proposed by VCU in partnership with The March of Dimes Virginia Chapter, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), Centering Healthcare Institute, Virginia Department of Health and the four provider organizations. Members from each organization will serve on an advisory committee to monitor and guide the implementation of the four-year grant.
VCU and its collaborating partners were one of 27 recipients of the Strong Start grant awards across the country. The seeds of the grant application came from a journal article written by Sheldon Retchin, M.D., senior vice president for Health Sciences at VCU and CEO of the VCU Health System; Jerome Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine; Sheryl Garland, vice president of health policy and community relations at VCU; and lead author Emannuel Anum, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at VCU.
“This is a great example of the type of translational research happening at VCU. The project demonstrates the continuity of a research theme within the institution as well as the importance of working with community partners,” said Strauss, an internationally renowned expert in obstetrics and gynecology and human genetics.
- About VCU and the VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 223 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.