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Samaritan Medical Center Recognized for Higher-Quality and Cost-Efficiency in Maternity Care

Published on: January 4, 2024

The expanded Blue Distinction® Centers for Maternity Care Program aims to provide patients with higher-quality care, with a goal of reducing preventable or treatable pregnancy-related complications.

WATERTOWN, NY – Samaritan Medical Center has been designated as a Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program plays a key role in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s (BCBSA) National Health Equity Strategy aimed at reducing racial health disparities across the care spectrum and improving patient outcomes for all Americans.

Based on data from the current designation cycle, facilities designated under the Maternity Care program demonstrate higher-quality care compared to non-Blue Distinction Center facilities, with overall average rates of 26% lower episiotomies, 60% fewer elective deliveries and 17% lower cesarean births—all of which point to healthier outcomes for patients.

“We are pleased that Samaritan has once again earned the Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield designation as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care,” said Courtney Emmerich, director, Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children. “Samaritan first earned this designation in 2016 and is very proud to continually uphold it.  Each year families of the civilian and military community place their trust in us to provide high quality maternity care. With some of the most experienced and compassionate caregivers, we are able to offer the exceptional level of care that our patients deserve.”

Blue Distinction Designation Offerings:

Facilities that meet the program’s selection criteria are eligible for designation at one of two levels:

  • Blue Distinction Centers (BDC): recognizes health care facilities that deliver quality care, safely and effectively.
  • Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+): recognizes health care facilities that deliver quality care, safely and effectively, in addition to demonstrating more affordable care. BDC+ designated facilities also exhibit an average savings of 21% for maternity care, according to a recent program survey.

“Congratulations to the team at Samaritan Medical Center on achieving this important quality recognition,” said Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Utica regional president. “The Blue Distinction designation is one more tool to help members make informed decisions about their health care, allowing them to be assured that the facility has met specific benchmarks”

Commitment to Maternity Care:

Severe maternal morbidity rates are on the rise among all pregnant women in the United States, which has the highest maternal mortality rate than any developed country. Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. These disparities are unacceptable and demand immediate attention.

BCBSA is committed to reducing racial disparities in maternal health and has executed a multi-year National Health Equity Strategy to achieve this goal. To align with this strategy, the Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program enhanced its quality and measurement standards to recognize higher-quality facilities that have taken action to respond effectively to obstetric emergencies, reduce racial disparities, and improve maternal health outcomes.

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program’s selection criteria was devised to close clinical care gaps and reduce inequities that persist throughout the maternal care spectrum. The selection criteria includes components of BCBSA’s Maternal Health Equity Actions, which dismantle the cultural, operational and structural barriers that created inequities in maternal care.

To be designated under this program, each applicant facility was evaluated on a combination of objective data on patient outcomes as well as the practices implemented to reduce racial disparities and improve maternal health outcomes, such as:

  • Using evidence-based best practices to respond effectively to obstetric emergencies
  • Offering unconscious bias training
  • Participating in the regional Perinatal Quality Collaborative
  • Having doula support available on the maternity care team
  • Collecting race, ethnicity and language data
  • Having a program dedicated to quality improvements in maternal care
  • Running drills and simulations to prepare providers are prepared to deal with a range of obstetric emergencies
  • Demonstrating health outcomes that exceed the selection criteria from our program’s previous evaluation cycle

To further drive improvements to maternal care, BCBSA will be working closely with Excellus BCBS to encourage facilities to implement performance improvement activities that will enhance their maternity care programs and improve patient outcomes.

“It is time to raise the bar. Everyonedeserves to have higher-quality care at every stage of their pregnancy,” said Erin Barney, BCBSA’s vice president of Network Solutions. “Facilities that earned a Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care designation have proven that they deliver higher-quality maternity care and are committed to reducing maternal health disparities that are often treatable and preventable. Closing clinical care gaps is a joint effort, and we are proud to recognize facilities that put insights into action, creating a more equitable system of health for all.”

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality specialty care at lower costs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, cellular immunotherapy, fertility care, gene therapy, knee and hip replacement, maternity care, spine surgery, substance use treatment and recovery, and transplants, while encouraging health care professionals to improve the care they deliver.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated providers, visit our website.

All companies and trademarks listed above are the property of their respective owners and used for identification purposes only and are in no way associated or affiliated with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Use of these trademarks does not imply endorsement. The Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® names and symbols and Blue Distinction® are registered trademarks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

About Samaritan Medical Center

Samaritan Medical Center (Watertown, New York) is a 290-bed not-for-profit community medical center, offering a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient healthcare services. From primary and emergency care to highly specialized medical and surgical services, such as cancer treatment, neonatal intensive care, behavioral health and addiction services, and imaging services, Samaritan Medical Center and its team of healthcare professionals proudly serves the medical needs of our civilian and military community. Quality, compassion, and safety are the basic principles by which exceptional care is delivered at Samaritan.

About Excellus BlusCross BlueShield

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company’s mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 4,200 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health IndexSM. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com.

About Blue Distinction Centers
Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers’ need for affordable healthcare. Each provider’s cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans’ areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider’s in-network status or your own policy’s coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for noncovered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.

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