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Tower Health Aims to Raise Awareness About Importance of Maternal Health

Hospitals within the health system join together to provide best outcome for mom and baby.

Jan 23, 2024

by Reading Hospital – Tower Health

Photo courtesy of Reading Hospital – Tower Health

With maternal mortality rates on the rise across the United States and in Pennsylvania, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has designated Jan. 23 as Maternal Health Awareness Day or “1-2-3 for Maternal Health.”

Today, and throughout the year, hospitals and healthcare organizations nationwide are teaming up to share information about the importance of maternal health. This is particularly vital for Black women, who, in Pennsylvania alone, experienced a pregnancy-associated mortality ratio (PAMR) of 163 per 100,000 live births in 2022 – double that of white women, according to the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

While Tower Health has not seen the same rise in maternal mortality rates at its hospitals, our clinical leaders and staff remain committed to raising awareness, sharing life-saving information, and taking proactive steps to ensure equal outcomes for all maternity and neonatal patients regardless of race, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status, or social determinants. To recognize Maternal Health Awareness Day, department staff will be wearing a special sticker to encourage discussion about the topic among their colleagues and patients.

“Our priorities have been, and will remain, continuing to follow national guidelines, team communication, standardizing protocols across the system regarding maternal bleeding, and expanding our Maternal-Fetal Medicine program,” said Suzanne Wenderoth, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Tower Health, and Reading Hospital. “I thank our team members for their continued efforts to ensure the mothers in our communities have healthy and safe outcomes.”

Unfortunately, many areas of the country, including six counties in Pennsylvania, are considered a maternity desert, meaning there is no access to a hospital or OB/GYN care and services. Tower Health patients have access to high-quality care and medical experts at three premiere hospitals, including:

Reading Hospital, which offers birthing services, maternity care, and access to a Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU); Phoenixville Hospital, which serves the Pottstown and Phoenixville areas and offers birthing services, maternity center, and a Level II NICU; and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, which offers a Level IV NICU for the youngest patients.

With a continued focus on issues to improve maternal morbidity and mortality rates, our Maternal-Fetal medicine program offers advanced care for high-risk pregnancies. We offer preconception counseling, noninvasive prenatal testing, nuchal translucency screening, amniocentesis, and more. In addition, our hospital staff has received awards for exceptional maternity services, including:

Phoenixville Hospital

  • Five-Star Distinction for Vaginal Delivery for the seventh consecutive year (2017-2023)
  • Five-Star Distinction for C-Section Delivery for six years in a row (2018-2023)
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield Blue Distinction® Center+ for maternity care
  • Birthing-Friendly Hospital designation from CMS (2023)

Reading Hospital

  • Five-Star Distinction for Vaginal Delivery for the third year in a row (2021-2023) from Healthgrades
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield Blue Distinction® Center+ for maternity care
  • Birthing-Friendly Hospital designation from CMS (2023)

“Our team is proud of the care we provide to new moms and their babies,” said Mark B. Woodland, MD, Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Reading Hospital and the Women’s Health Service Line lead. “We strive for every family to have a happy and healthy start to a long, wonderful life.”

Dr. Woodland also encourages community members to share the following tips that can help pregnant women decrease the risk of maternal mortality:

  • Attend pre- and post-natal appointments as recommended by your physician.
  • Advocate for yourself during appointments. The journey is a shared decision-making process with your OB/GYN.
  • Consume a healthy diet.
  • Implement exercise as part of your daily routine, with your doctor’s approval.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Do not smoke or consume alcohol or recreational drugs.

Tower Health is a regional integrated healthcare system that offers compassionate, high-quality, leading-edge healthcare and wellness services to communities in Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. With approximately 11,500 employees, Tower Health consists of Reading Hospital in West Reading; Phoenixville Hospital in Phoenixville; Pottstown Hospital in Pottstown; and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, in partnership with Drexel University. Tower Health is strongly committed to academic medicine and training, including multiple residency and fellowship programs, the Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health, and the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences in West Reading. The system also includes Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing; home healthcare provided by Tower Health at Home; TowerDirect ambulance and emergency response; Tower Health Medical Group; Tower Health Providers, our clinically integrated network; and Tower Health Urgent Care facilities across our service area. For more information, visit towerhealth.org.

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